Many people are unaware that there is a church building in Stafford Road, Forest Gate. Nestling in among the terraced houses, it is easily missed by passers by.
The story of Hope Baptist Church began in 1889, when a small group of believers began meeting together in one of their homes in Forest Gate. They continued to meet for some 15 years in this way, moving to another home in Katherine Road at some stage. In 1905, they were by God’s grace, able to commence a Sunday School, with such results that soon a larger meeting place was required. A plot of land was secured, and in December 1906, Hope Baptist Chapel was completed, and is the meeting place of the church today.
Though not elaborate in its architecture, some have pointed out that its clean, simple lines, and white paintwork, suggest the typical New England design of church buildings of 18th century America.
The area around the church has changed much during the last 100 years, mainly in its ethnic make-up. Whilst there is still a small remnant of the white “east end” population that originally surrounded the church, the area is now home to a wide range of nationalities speaking many different languages.
Some houses next door to the chapel needed completely rebuilding after one memorable night of WW2 bombing raids, whilst the chapel survived despite one explosive landing on the roof and rolling into the sideway without exploding.
We have known ups and downs over the years, trials and blessings, times with pastoral leadership, and also long periods without. Sometimes we have wondered how to find more space for those gathering for worship, and at other times we are saddened at the small numbers in our meetings. But in all these experiences, we thank God that we are able to continue to make the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ known in our neighbourhood.