A brief history of St John's Community Church

St. John's Community Church began in 1884 as the mission church of St John within the Parish of Chasetown, St Anne. On the left is a late picture of the old St John's Church building. From the records of St. Anne's Church, Chasetown:

"On August 4th 1883, the committees of the mission room which had just been decided on, met to fix a site. Just over a month later, on September 29th there was a further meeting in Chase Terrace, specifically about building the Mission Church. And it was on August 4th 1884 that St John's foundation stone was laid by Miss Hussey of Wyrley Grove", said the Revd George Poole.

Revd. George Poole also recalled, "There was some difficulty in actually getting the stone to the church because the road had not yet been made up, despite the fact that High street dates back to 1868. The church was completed by 1886. What church goers must have had to put up with is evident when you look, at the fact that improvement of the road was not started until the First World War. At which time prisoners of war were employed to lay a cobblestoned surface.

Mr Sidney Bradbury one time Treasurer of St Johns who died on 23rd May 1998 aged 87 wrote of the old St John's: 

"How often have we in our youth got up on a Sunday morning and gone to church whether that be in our own parish or that of a friend, heard the birds singing or the lark whistling in the sky? Maybe we had to hurry to beat the bell so we could be in church before it stopped ringing. In the church we have watched the congregation go in double file to the altar to receive the blessed sacrament before going home to a warm and appetising breakfast.

What joy of it all! As you go 'through the years' I hope that you can find some joy in the life of our church. I regret that I cannot give you a true and full biography of St Johns. This is due to the fact that so much of what happened and its recordings have been lost. So one had to depend on one’s imagination and on memory. I was looking at old photograph of the interior of the church and on the east wall, over the pulpit, were the words, "Come, I have a message from God, given unto thee.”

But like the recordings of the church, time has scrubbed out these words - but the invitation stands. God has a message for thee. So why not accept his invitation. And remember, there's none so poor as those who lack the knowledge and the grace of God."

The building was completed by 1886 - a structure of brick and tile with bath stone dressing. It consisted of chancel nave, one aisle and north porch and a turret on the west end of the roof. The turret contained the bell. It was known as "The Church on the Hill". The Very Reverend Dean of Lichfield donated 12 chairs and a Mr Austin donated the use of his American organ. It was completed with processional cross, pictures hung on the walls and red curtains.

From Staffordshire Towns and Villages 1899:

'Chase Terrace Church'

'The pretty little church of St. John's, Chase Terrace, which serves as a Mission Church to Chase Town, is situated in a district composed of a large mining population estimated at three thousand persons. Unfortunately the inhabitants are many of them still suffering from the effects of the strike which occurred a few years ago, and also on account of the recent stagnation in trade.

The church, however, does not seem to have suffered so greatly as might have been expected, as we understand that, thanks to the earnest co-operation of the churchwardens, Mr. J. J. Cooper and Mr. Charles Wright, with the priest in charge, the Rev. W. H. Hopkins, the heavy debt upon a new two-manual organ, which was some time ago placed in the church, has been cleared off, and a new heating apparatus provided. The Sunday school children and members of the surpliced choir have also been provided with new hymn books and Psalters, and funds have also been provided for the purchase of new surplices and cassocks.

This work has been successfully carried out since the appointment of the present priest in charge, whose earnest efforts in connection with the work of the church have been keenly appreciated. There is, moreover, plenty of life about the church. There are, in addition to the Sunday services, frequent services during the week; celebrations of the Holy Communion on Holy days and Thursdays, and classes are also held on three evenings during the week. There is an excellent Sunday school, and all the services are well attended.'

The Revd William Henry Hopkins, MA was curate in charge of the new mission church. Also pictured is the altar taken in 1963 by Mrs Beresford.

The bell tower proved to be to heavy for the building and was later demolished, and the bell re-positioned. A stained glass window of St John latter added to the building. This window was later incorporated  as a feature in the foyer of the new St John's Community Church building. The original bell is also in the porch.

The Church Room was in Ironstone Road.

The chairs were later replaced by pews, as seen opposite. In the 1960's church member Nancy Webster became the first woman Chair of Burntwood Parish Council, and helped the church obtain a strip of land to the side of the church. Useful for a possible extension!

"In late 1997/early 1980", says one time Lay Reader Michael Jeffs, "at a church committee meeting it was agreed we needed a toilet - and a kitchen would be a useful facility".

A building fund was started. Then in 1984 the Town Council decided to sell the Chase Terrace park keeper's cottage which was situated behind the church on the south side, to the highest bidder. The committee thought it would be a good site for a church hall or vicarage, and made a bid of £19,000. The building fund stood at £5,894.18 on 31st December 1983. Prayer became more intense. More money came in during 1984. "Give until it hurts", the congregation were asked when the news came that the bid for the cottage had been successful.

A special Harvest Festival gift day was arranged for 7th October 1984, and an astounding £8,400 was raised in gifts and pledges. The land where the cottage once stood now provides parking for the new building. In 1989 the church had bad news. Many thousands of pounds would be needed just to keep the present church standing. Much prayer then had to go into a decision of either attempting a repair of the mission church or demolishing it and building a much needed multi- purpose built building.

In 1986, the centenary year of the mission church, the congregation officially became the District Church of St John in the Parish of St Anne's Chase Town. The mission church also owned the property called "The Church Room" in Ironstone Road, Chase Terrace which needed some serious renovation. This renovation was undertaken by members of the congregation. For safety reasons the congregation then moved from the church and worshipped in this building, St John's Churchrooms for just over five years.

They also decided to demolish and rebuild St John's church. Building a church more suitable for both church and community use. The proposed new building was therefore named St Johns Community Church. Work commenced on the new building in February 1997,  with the foundation stone being laid in April. Church members held their first service in the building on Sunday 21st December 1997. Members of the public were invited to attend the first  "Christmas Special Service" on the afternoon of Wednesday 24th December 1997.

The building was dedicated on Sunday 11th January 1998 at 3 pm, still minus the sliding dividing wall between the hall and worship room and other more minor items. On All Saints Day, 1st November 2000, St. John's Community Church became a Parish Church. Then at 8pm on Tuesday 5th December 2000, St John's Community Church hosted the service for the institution and induction of the incumbents for all three parishes in Burntwood Town. The Revd Duncan B Leake became the first incumbent of the new parish of Chase Terrace and Boney Hay, St John.

By 2001 Sunday School Teachers were unhappy about the amount of room for their classes. Other user groups of this community building also wanted more room for activities. The photograph on the left shows the extension of a meeting room and additional disabled toilet being added in June 2003. At 5pm on Sunday September 28th 2003 the "Harvest Celebration and Official Opening" of the new meeting room took place.

St. John's Community Church today

The gallery includes a front view of the newly extended St John's Community Church; a photo taken on April 9th 2010, after the War Memorial has been renovated and erected on a more substantial base; and a side view of the front of the building... And so the story continues!