The mission in the area now known as Southchurch Park, began in 1893. A Miss Brightman delivering magazines on behalf of the then town church of Cliff Town, saw a spiritual need in the area. Services first began in the open air on the beach. As winter approached, an old open ended boat house was rented for 25.6d per week (12 1/2p today). However this was so draughty that the candles keep blowing out (no electricity at that time). As a result, an upper room was rented so that services could continue, followed by the building of a tin hut.
Eventually a Mr Dowsett gave the church a piece of land on which the present church now stands. After many meetings problems and prayers, the vocation of Cliff Town was realised and the church was built at a cost of £1,300. The new building known then as Southchurch Park Congregational Church was opened on 30 January 1908.
In that year a Girls Life Brigade ( now The Girls’ Brigade) was formed which continues to this day, and a choir was begun in 1909, now sadly no more. An extension to the church was erected in 1923 to accommodate children’s work. Other activities included a Fireside Circle designed to appeal to Young Men Considering Church Membership. Also a Young Men’s Fellowship and a Young Ladies Fellowship (separate of course!). A Scout group was started in 1943 and is thriving today. A further extension was added to the side of the church in the early 1970s.
The church has always been generous in its charitable giving especially to local charities.
Numbers in the church have fluctuated, especially during the second world war. Today we are a small congregation of around 10 – 15 people, but we do have a very successful and flourishing Girls’ Brigade.
The church has continued, and will always continue to offer spiritual refreshment to all who enter our door or if necessary outside its doors. In 2019 we celebrated our 125th anniversary.
We have had several Ministers over the years, each with their own brand of service. Our present minister is Rev Sohail Ejaz from Pakistan. Married with 3 sons and 1 daughter, Sohail has degrees in economy and business studies and has even been a taxi driver as well as a teacher of English in Pakistan. A man of the world indeed.
We also have a Ladies Group meeting on Tuesday afternoons in term time, and Scouts and Cubs have a hut in our church garden. Our premises are hired to an excellent playgroup which is open during term times.