Jesus declared that he would build his Church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). We have seen the faithfulness of Jesus to his Word as All Nations Church became a reality in the summer of 2013. All Nations Church was birthed as Cornerstone Church joined Brickhill Baptist Church to further the mission Jesus has called us to in Bedford and beyond.
The church that became Brickhill Baptist was planted in 1793 by a group of pioneering believers from Bunyan Meeting Church, itself started by John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress. A passion to see people saved and regions transformed by the Gospel of Christ is very much part of our DNA. This group was led by a man named William Smith and originally met in Bedford’s town centre, at the ‘Old Chapel’ in the George Inn Yard, off the High Street.
As the congregation grew, a new venue was built in 1868 in Mill Street and the church became known as Mill Street Baptist Church. In 1965 under the leadership of John Cooper, a visionary move was made to relocate the church to a newly developing housing estate in North Bedford. It was a bold act motivated from a missionary zeal to see the people moving into this area impacted by the Gospel. Establishing a local church at the heart of this new community was the best way to do that. As the area became known as Brickhill so the church became known as Brickhill Baptist Church, and we still occupy this site today.
Sadly, John Cooper died not long after the move to Brickhill but this opened the way for new leadership. In 1969 Peter Ledger moved from Bristol to Brickhill and began leading the church. The church continued to grow, encouraged by Peter’s evangelistic heart. During this period many significant changes happened.
The church came into a fresh understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit and a radical spiritual transformation took place, leading the church to appoint elders, to enlarge the building as the congregation grew, and to church plant as part of the church’s mission. Open Door Church, St Neots was established in 1995 under the leadership of Tony Thompson, formerly an elder at Brickhill. Brickhill also became part of Newfrontiers, a family of churches working together on a mission under the leadership of Terry Virgo and his apostolic team.
Significant prophetic words shaped the direction of the church, emphasising God’s heart for us to be a resource church to the nation and nations, and for us to be a family of every age and stage, demonstrating God’s love and grace. In 1997 Peter Ledger stepped down as the lead elder and Paul Woodward, whom Peter had brought onto his team, began to lead the church.
Paul’s prophetic leadership established the church firmly on the foundation of God’s grace and continued to grow and develop leaders to strengthen Brickhill and also to send to other churches across the world. A further building extension took place in 2006 as the work and mission expanded.
In 2009 Paul Woodward moved to lead Jubilee Church, Teesside and Richard Green, whom Paul had brought onto his team in 1999, was recognised as the lead elder at Brickhill in 2010. Richard’s evangelistic heart and passion for the nations continues to motivate and equip All Nations as we move forward with the vision of being a “diverse people, growing and going for the glory of God, in Bedford and beyond”.
Southside Family Church was planted out of Woodside Church into south Bedford in the early 1990’s with a call to make a difference to that part of town. One of the foundational words was to counter the perceived wisdom that ‘nothing good comes out of south Bedford’. Southside initially met in what was John Bunyan School which is now Bedford Academy, the new site for All Nations, South. It then spent many years based at Harrowden Middle School where it’s Sunday meetings were held.
The church was led initially by Tony Smith, who left in 1998 to plant a church in Leeds, and then by Phil Dowling, who then in 2005 was called to plant a church in Rushden. In 2006, Andy Woodward stepped into the leadership of Southside. Over many years and in many ways Southside worked in south Bedford to impact the lives of local people. In 2012 God gave Southside a new name and a fresh mandate and they became Cornerstone Church with a desire for the church of Jesus Christ to be the cornerstone of a new community in south Bedford.
This has now found its fuller expression in Cornerstone Church giving itself to what God is establishing through All Nations Church in south Bedford.
Increasingly the church is reflecting the ethnic and cultural diversity of Bedford, and people from many nations (over 40 at our last count!) now worship as part of our family. This is a major focus for us as the Bible reveals God’s heart to have a church made up from every tribe and people group on the planet, reflecting the new humanity created in Christ.
God has also shown us that we need to be “good news” as well as preach it. As the overflow of our mission, God has given us grace to counsel the broken and care for the needy. Through ministries such as the Grove Crisis Pregnancy Advice Centre, Operation Tanzania and the Bedford Foodbank we seek to demonstrate God’s love in practical ways.
As one big diverse family made up from many ages, social standing, and nations, we seek to bring glory to Jesus by reaching out to our community, sending people and resource into our town, our nation and the nations.
Come and join us and be part of this continuing story.