Article Index

1925 - 1949

After Mr Boyd’s departure, considerable difficulty was experienced in securing a new minister. The church was without pastoral oversight for two years, and during that time Mr G. H, Young acted as chairman of deacons and church meetings, as well as being spiritual adviser to the whole church and congregation Early in this period of waiting, the church began to face the fact that they did not possess a Manse. Attempts to find a suitable house having failed, an important decision was made at a meeting held on October 27th 1925. A resolution was presented by Mr Shipton, on behalf of the Finance Committee, that the church definitely build a Manse. Two schemes came before the church. One was for a small house costing £750, the other for a larger house costing £1,043. After careful consideration, it was decided to build the larger house. The scheme was taken up with enthusiasm, and from henceforth all sorts of efforts, including the distribution of collecting boxes, were embarked upon to raise money for the Manse Fund.

At length, after many disappointments in trying to settle a new pastor, the church became interested in a young student at Spurgeon’s College, then approaching the conclusion of his training, He, too, felt drawn to Harlow, and eventually the Rev. W. H. Biscoe, the student concerned, was ordained and inducted to the pastorate. The Ordination Service was conducted by Principal P. W. Evans on Sunday, July 3rd, 1927. Induction services were held the following Wednesday. So far as we have been able to trace, Mr Biscoe became the first man to take full pastoral charge of the church straight from College.

By this time the Manse was built. The church had resolved to build a house “worthy of the name of Manse" The resolution was not in vain. The house in St John’s Avenue is one of which many a larger church in our

Denomination would be justifiably proud. When Mr Biscoe settled in Harlow, the church owed about £1,000 on the Manse, suitable loans having been secured to enable the house to be built. It was a great act of faith on the part of a small church. It will be readily appreciated that in those day £1.000 was a far greater sum in value than it is today. Let it be realised, too, that the times there were hard. Poverty was no uncommon thing, The nation had emerged from the General Strike and was striving to throw off its repercussions, but money remained scarce. So did work In these unpropitious circumstances our church very bravely faced its heavy debt. The amount gradually reduced year by year, but it seemed an everlasting burden. The church was called upon to carry, in addition other responsibilities, and it is to the credit of Mr Biscoe and to the leadership of men of the calibre of Mr Young and Mr Shipton that the church was able to account for itself so well.

The debt on the Manse, however, was to be cleared sooner than anticipated. Mr Biscoe was followed in the pastorate by the Rev. William Joynes, a man of wide experience, who quickly set about raising money to rid the church of its debt, With remarkable rapidity the necessary money was raised, not a small portion coming from people in churches formerly served by Mr Joynes.

Harlow was to be the last church served by Mr Joynes. He came to us from Frinton, to which he had gone after twenty-nine years of distinguished ministry at New Southgate. During this time at New Southgate he became one of London's leading Baptist ministers, a fact duly recognised when he was elected President of the London Baptist Association Mr. Joynes is remembered for his cheerful disposition, his ready acts of kindness, and as a formidable preaching of the Word of God. He could preach with attractive sparkle and power, on occasions rising to heights of greatness, no doubt reminiscent of his heyday at New Southgate, Several of his sermons are remembered by the Editor of this history even now, His theology was strongly Spurgeonic; not surprising when it is remembered that he knew C. H, Spurgeon, who received him into College with the words: "We are glad to have you, and I hope God has put your heart near your skin".

Advancing age necessarily slowed down his pace, and in the autumn of 1942 he retired from the Baptist ministry. It had been his task to hold the church together in the early years of the Second World War. This he achieved amidst all the difficulties of the "black-out", air raid sirens, Sunday afternoon services in winter and increasing numbers of people caught up in all the turmoil of war.

It was during his time in Harlow that the diaconate was joined by Mr G, D. Hooper, who became Secretary of the Essex Baptist Association and a member of Baptist Union Council, continuing to serve on the Council until his death, which occurred some years after his leaving Harlow to reside elsewhere, Mr 3. T. Wallace was also by then a deacon, and in addition was rendering valuable service in the Sunday School. 1n those days, Mr Young, Mr Hooper and Mr Wallace often took turns in giving out the church notices, sometimes depending on whether or not Mr Young was required to play the organ.

During the interregnum caused by the retirement of Mr Joynes, a frequent occupant of the pulpit was Mr William Page, a church member at Harlow, who joined the London City Mission – a work in which for a great many years our church has taken a keen interest. In later years he became the Superintendent of the Leeds City Mission. Another frequent occupant of the pulpit during that time was a student at Spurgeon’s College whom Mr Joynes had baptised and the Harlow church, in the names of Mr Joynes and Mr Young, had sponsored for admission to the College. Little was it realised then, but nineteen years later that student was to become minister of the church.

A new minister did not come until 1944. He was the Rev. G. E. Simpson, who, after serving the Strict Baptists, came within the fellowship of the Baptist Union on becoming our pastor, having been strongly recommended to us by Mr Hooper. We always felt that whenever Mr Hooper spoke in church meetings it was like listening to the voice of the Baptist Union, and his undoubted authority in such matters as these was greatly respected. Before Mr Simpson would accept the invitation to the pastorate. he sent a letter setting out his theological beliefs, giving the church the opportunity to withdraw its invitation if it so wished in the light of his letter. Mr Young read out the letter during a Sunday evening service, and its frankness and sincerity  made a deep impression. There was no question that Mr Simpson was 'our man” for the hour.

With the end of the war, Mr Simpson set about putting the wheels in motion of a work the church had been in urgent need of for some while. When he came to Harlow, there were no youth activities in the church, apart from the Sunday School. Mr and Mrs Simpson together worked extremely hard to meet this vital need, giving themselves unreservedly to the task before them. A meeting for young people was started, also Boy and Girl Campaigner Clans, Even today we can say that we enjoy the fruits of the labours of both Mr and Mrs Simpson. They were responsible for placing the youth work on a good foundation. We still have Girl Campaigner Clans, but the Boys’ Clan was replaced by the Boys’ Brigade in later years,

Many people remember Mr Simpson’s ministry with appreciation. In 1949 he decided to uproot himself from Harlow – and, indeed, England – by going to Canada, the land of his birth, where with his wife he still exercises his ministry.

Today the end of the period which we have been considering Mr G. H. Young retired from the position of church secretary an office he had filled with grace and dignity for a great number of years. A life deacon, he was able to continue his service to the church until his illness and subsequent death, which occurred during the ministry of the Rev. R. S. Capel, who followed Mr Simpson. To be deprived of Mr Young was to be deprived of a great pillar of the church. We have already referred to the outstanding contribution of his family to the Church of Jesus Christ. Mr Young was part of the family tradition, We who knew him remember, with gratitude to God, his gracious personality, his devotion to Christ, his humility and his many acts of kindness which were done so quietly that even now they are still coming to light, How many can thank. God for His servant’s practical kindness it is impossible to estimate. Mr Young, like other members of his family, was a scholar of no mean order. His knowledge of the world of men and books was wide and impressive But it was in God’s Book – the Bible – that he gloried most. The influence of his Christian character went beyond the pale of the church to the whole town He was a Justice of the Peace – as was his father before him – and for some  years presiding magistrate. Another interest was the Boy Scout movement, which in Harlow he served with that  devotion and thoroughness that was typical of everything to which he put his hand, A fine musician, a flare for poetry, an able speaker, he was a man of many and varied qualities. To know him was an education.

Eventually his place as church secretary was taken by Miss M. A. Shipton. She is representative of the third generation of her family to serve our church, and it was her father who played such a prominent part in the building of the Manse, as described earlier in this chapter.