History

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Three hundred years ago, largely as an outcome of the Reformation, there was considerable spiritual activity in Turners Hill, and in the surrounding district. Regular meetings for worship took place in cottages very near to where the present Free Church stands. In June 1712 two local men represented Turners Hill at a large Baptist Assembly in London. Between 1731 and 1759 over 100 names are recorded of persons in membership with this local church. With the passing of the years however, numbers declined and this, the first church of any kind in the village, passed from the scene, only to be "reborn" some years later.
 

In 1824 members of Zion Chapel, which had recently been formed in East Grinstead, came to Turners Hill and helped form a church. Zion Chapel was linked with a number of other churches in different parts of the country which had come into being largely through the influence of Lady Huntingdon, who herself had been greatly blessed in the 18th century Evangelical Revival. The Church at Turners Hill was originally called Bethel Chapel and was for many years the only place of worship in the village, the nearest Parish Church being at Worth. In 1906 the original chapel was replaced by the present building and four years later the Manse was built for slightly less than £800.00. During the present century the church has been served by a number of different pastors, including the Revs. F.A. Walker, J.H. Cooke, A.H. Clay, F.M. Dawe, W.G. Tulley, A.W. Hill and W. Turton.
 

At the end of the Second World War the Minister was the Rev. A.W. Hill who also had charge of Copthorne and West Hoathly Chapels. Mr. Quinton DeAth, an insurance broker, who with his family had evacuated from Croydon, was appointed as assistant to Mr. Hill. After Mr. Hill's death, Mr. DeAth became Honorary Pastor of the Church. During his ministry, under God, the work began to revive. Mr. DeAth continued in office until 1957 when the Rev. Gilbert W. Kirby M.A. came to the village. Under Gilbert’s ministry the work continued to prosper.

Mr. Kirby was also the Principal of London Bible College and relinquished his ministry in 1970, when the College moved from central London to Northwood, Middlesex. The Ministers who followed were the Rev. A.W. Rainsbury M.A. and the Rev. Eric S. Fife. Prior to his departure for missionary service in Malawi, the Rev. John L. Horder served the Church temporarily. He was, with God's grace, able to unify a Church that had gone through a difficult period. Whilst they were in Malawi the Church was able to financially and prayerfully support John and his family.

After 18 months without a minister, in the summer of 1980 the Rev. Arthur D. Leitch M.A. settled with his wife and family. During the 10 years of his ministry, the Church continued to grow as a "Family of God" with all ages being represented in the weekly congregation. It experienced God's blessing in many areas and enjoyed a flourishing youth work. The style of worship changed with the introduction of contemporary hymns and songs.

In the 1980s the vestibule was enlarged and the Church Hall extended. Selina House was partitioned to provide further rooms accessed from the Church Hall. Selina House was then sold.

Following the departure of Arthur Leitch the church was without a pastor for some while until the appointment of Richard Mozer in 1992 an American studying at the London Theological Seminary. Sadly, Richard's ministry ended after little more than a year and the leadership once again sought God's will for the future.

In January 1995, Paul Asterley began his ministry at Turners Hill and was formally appointed Pastor in May 1995. Later that year Stuart Leitch (Arthur’s son) was appointed as an Evangelist and began a part-time course at Spurgeon’s Bible College. A period of consolidation followed these appointments with a greater emphasis on reaching out into the community.

We give thanks to God that during these more recent years the church has grown spiritually and numerically, particularly through encouraging, developing and using the many gifts that exist within the congregation. A number of our members were called to serve the Lord elsewhere in the late 1990’s. In January 1999, our secretary, Keith Linzner, was appointed Pastor at the Connexion church in Woodmancote, near Cheltenham. In July 1999, Stuart Leitch was appointed Pastor at Bethesda Chapel, Clifton, Bristol.

In January 2012 Paul Asterley retired and was succeeded by Geoff Chapman as pastor and he and his family took residence in the Manse in February.

The Church has been and continues to be blessed under the ministry of Godly men who seek for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached and taught , with the objective of the Church functioning according to New Testament principles. Whether becoming active Church members or passing through as visitors, the leadership look to God's blessing being imparted and lives being transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit.


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