Most in our culture today see history as a waste of time. I was one of those. However, over the course of my theological studies I came to appreciate the study of those who have gone before us with much gratitude. Those of us who live today, in many ways, stand upon the shoulders of those who have gone before us. This is true of the sciences and is true of the Church as well. At SBC, we recognise that we do not stand on our own, as though we are some sort of pseudo-omnipotent institution, but upon the foundation that was first laid down by our Lord Jesus Christ, followed by the apostles and those godly and faithful individuals who came after.
As I dug my way through a pile of material that would pass as an archive for most Churches I found the following Words. It is the earliest known account of the Church.
Authorities differ on the date when the Baptist witness in Springs commenced. The East Rand express of December, 1921, the pioneer paper of Springs, asserts that the services started as early as the first colliery workings, sometimes after 1897, and that regular services were began in 1904. The Baptist Union Handbook takes the latter date of 1904. Whichever date be preferred, both are early enough to do justice to the forces that shaped the human moulds into which the pioneer Baptist spirit was poured. To a certain extent it may be said of all churches that they reflect that economic and social tendencies about them. Apart from a few farmers there was little to suggest the future greatness of Springs until in 1888 coal was discovered, leading inevitably to the extension of the railway line from Boksburg in 1893. Where would one look for coalminers? In Wales, of course; as so there sprang up a community of Evans’, Thomas’s, Davies’, Lloyd’s. Jenkins, Hughes’, and Williams’; a clannish, musical and religiously inclined group.
How times have changed. For those of us who stay in Springs there appears to be a remnant of what was the ‘greatness’ of Springs. Old buildings bear the marks of early English architectural design; the numerous sports fields cry out with a sense of nostalgia; even the fountains now appear thirsty, longing for what once was. Many people see Springs as that small town on the edge of the earth, the blackhole on the edge of space where things go to slowly decay into nothingness. Unfortunately this is the sentiment of those who stay here.
But by the grace of God many things have remained true, unchanged by the economic fluctuations and the ever changing demographic. One of those things is the Church. While SBC could boast in almost 115 years of existence, we by no means attribute any of this to the strength of men. We boast in the faithfulness of God to the Church and the community of Springs. Our past, like many people in this community, is marked by days of grandeur and lowliness, joy and despondency, comfort and pain, success and failure, but it is only by His grace that we exist and it will be by His grace that we continue to exist.
On to the broader fields of holy vision,
On to loftier heights of faith and love,
Onward, upward; apprehending wholly,
All for which He call thee from above. (A.B. Simpson)