|AdminHistory||In the late 19th century, the East London Baptist Tabernacle Church (ELT) was part of the flourishing landscape of non-conformism in East London. Founded in 1861, its first home was in Stepney. In 1871 it moved to its present site in Burdett Road to facilitate a growing congregation. The new building could seat 2,500 people. |
ELT benefited from the leadership of pastor Archibald Brown, a friend of the celebrated Victorian preacher C.H. Spurgeon. Brown, who had pastored other churches, was struck by the poverty in which people lived. This inspired ELT to undertake a series of initiatives, including soup kitchens, orphanages and a holiday home on the Kent coast. The church's Saturday afternoon prayer meetings were said to attract up to 1,000 people. At one church meeting, seat holders agreed to stay away, so that there "may be room for strangers".* Pastor Brown wanted to fill the place with the working men of the neighbourhood*. Brown's sympathies were firmly evangelical, and he disliked what he saw as the church's abandonment of "its mission to preach God's word "** in order to embrace "the devil's mission of amusement"**, as a way to attract and keep members. As he pursued his cause against the "gospel of amusement"***, both in London, and other parts of the country, he detected a trend among churches to entertain rather than evangelize. He wanted to see a church which was "purely unsectarian ... distinctly evangelical".****
ELT is currently affiliated to the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, and Affinity (formerly the British Evangelical Council). Its intention is to continue to work with similarly minded evangelical organisations.
The original building was hit by a bomb in 1944 and it was replaced by its current building in 1954, with seating capacity for 500. It took on board societal changes in the area it serves, as well as the development of the financial district of Canary Wharf and the Thames Gateway.
ELT has always actively promoted missionary work and liaison with other churches, here and abroad. It currently supports missionaries in Namibia, Russia and South Africa.
Sources of Information:
ELT Baptist Church: Facebook
*East London Observer: 10th November 1877
**Archibald D. Brown (1889): The Devil's Mission of Amusement - The Church's Take - Entertainment or Evangelization (Tract)
***Sheffield Evening Telegraph: 11th January 1890
****London Daily News: 5th December 1903