History of the Adventist Church in Bury St. Edmunds.
By Robert Buckley
In 1985, Robert Surridge, the pastor from Gorlseston, near Yarmouth, and Jonathan Gallagher, pastor in Cambridge, joined forces to bring the Adventist message to Bury St. Edmunds. They did house-to-house visitations and contacted known S.D.A. Believers in and around Bury, as well as those on the U. S. Air force bases at Lakenheath and Mildenhall.
The group of interested persons started meeting for worship and Bible study in the Guildhall, about September that year. As Robert Surridge writes, “Jonahan and I found the Guildhall whilst trying to get out of a rain storm and I know that it served the church well as a home for many years.”
The group was officially organised by Pastor Sven Ohman as a “Church” on 12th October, 1991 with 24 charter members. Many have moved away and one has died, but we still have eight of the original members. Other pastors have been Bernie Holford, Victor Marley and David West.
For many years we met in the Guildhall, but always our aim has been to have a church building of our own – and a fund was gradually built up for that purpose.
In January, 2001, we were told that it was planned that the Guildhall would be used for other purposes and we would have to find an alternative meeting place.
Fortunately, the St. John Ambulance Association , kindly allowed us to rent their Hall until we could find a permanent place.
In October 2001, two of our members noted an advert in the Bury Free Press concerning the sale of the Fornham Road Free Church. We understood that, due to the increasing age and decreasing numbers of the membership, the Trustees had decided to sell the building.
It seemed Providential, to us, that this lovely house of worship was available for purchase, as our Church Group had, for years, been searching for a suitable building to purchase.
So we contacted the estate agents and put in a bid for the church property. On the 16th November 2001, we heard that the sale had been agreed but it was 22nd March 2002 before we got the keys.
On Sunday, 24th March, 2002, we had a praise and thanksgiving service in our own Church building, and have been meeting there every Sabbath (Saturday) since then, even during the renovations.
We realised that considerable work (although probably not how much) would be needed to make the outside of the building presentable, as it is a Grade 2 -Listed Building. We had to obtain special planning permission for the renovations.
Fenner Builders carried out the restoration and after various delays the scaffolding came down in May 2005.