There have been Baptist Churches in England since the early 17th Century. Due to the refusal of Baptists to become members of the State Church (the Church of England), they were called Dissenters and persecuted for their belief in religious freedom.
Baptists in Gateshead
The earliest reference to Baptists in Gateshead is a mention in the Record Book of St Mary’s Parish Church of a preacher from St Thomas’ Chapel in Newcastle (an early Baptist congregation) who was arrested for preaching in a house in Gateshead and taken to Durham Assizes in 1669.
As they had no church premises in Gateshead, Baptists living in the town worshipped with their fellow believers in Newcastle and, in 1720, it was a Gateshead Baptist by the name of George West who donated a building to the Newcastle congregation for use as a meeting room. There are records of Baptist Sunday Schools being held in Pipewellgate (1823) and Hillgate (1841), but the first Baptist church to be built in Gateshead was opened in 1877 at the junction of Durham Road and Gladstone Terrace.
The Birth of Beacon Lough Baptist Church
In the 1950s, a group of members from Durham Road Baptist Church started a Sunday School in the Beacon Lough area where new housing development had taken place. As the work grew, Church Services were held on Sundays in a rented scout hut at the foot of Beacon Lough Bank. By 1963, it was decided that Beacon Lough Baptist Church should be founded as a church in its own right and a group of 23 members embarked on a journey of faith to establish, with God’s help, a permanent witness in that part of the town.
Having been offered a plot of land by Gateshead Council, the members took a further step of faith in accepting this, convinced that God would supply the resources they required to build a church. With much prayer and hard work, their vision became reality with the opening of the Church in Southend Road in 1968.
The church has consistently worked towards its mission of showing God’s love and sharing the Good News of faith in Jesus Christ in the local community through various activities and organisations. A succession of ministers has provided preaching, leadership and pastoral oversight to the congregation.
Building for the Future
Towards the end of the twentieth century it became apparent that some church activities were being hampered through lack of space. An extension to the church building, giving extra meeting rooms, improved access and disabled toilet facilities was funded with donations by members and friends of the church as well as assistance from Baptist organisations and various charities. The extension opened in 2000.
We are grateful to God for his provision of the premises, but believe that the true church at Beacon Lough consists of the people who meet together in the name of Jesus Christ and as part of the body of Christians throughout the world who love and serve Him. The church welcomes all who sincerely seek God to join with us.