In The Beginning

It began in the troubled years of the reign of Charles I and the Civil War when the cry was for radical change in state and church. Elizabeth I had passed Acts the effect of which was to declare the Sovereign supreme ruler of the church as well as the state and to require everyone to observe the rites of the Church of England of which she was the Head. James I had strengthened these Acts and had declared that those who dissented would be made to conform ‘or else’. The ‘or else’ meant either the forfeiture of one’s goods or a lengthy term of imprisonment, in many cases for life.

But there were people who believed that Christ and Christ alone was the Head of His Church. As they saw it, he did not come into the world and die on a cross for His Church to become a tool of the State. To them ‘the Crown Rights of the Redeemer’ were paramount. They believed, too, in the right of local churches, meeting with Christ and guided by His Spirit, to order their own affairs. And they believed that people should be free to worship as their consciences directed.

They were people of conviction, with faith and courage of a high order. Of such would have been the men and women who founded this church and were the first members. Known as Independents, together with Baptists and Presbyterians of those days they were also known as Dissenters. They did not believe a state church with the monarch at its head was true to New Testament principles, nor could they believe in a priesthood, except that of all believers. Their spiritual leaders they called Ministers.

Here in Sandwich they would have attracted support from Flemish refugees and Huguenots who had fled from religious persecution on the Continent, and the Dutch church in the town would not have been unsympathetic.

Site built by Chris Wooldridge - ICT Faculty - Sandwich Technology School