Courage, Conscience and Conviction
Newport Congregational Church started when Robert Tutchin, the Minister of the Parish Church, was ejected on 24th August 1662 . He took some of his Church of England congregation with him to worship in local fields and barns.
In 1689, the Act of Toleration which allowed some freedom of worship for non-conformists meant that the congregation of around 20 were able to acquire a building in the centre of Newport, and the new church became a reality.
Such was the respect for Robert Tutchin, the Minister of the Puritan Congregation, whose traditions still live on today, that when he died in 1671, he was buried in the Parish Church. The funeral sermon was delivered by its vicar. Clearly, although there may have been differences in worship style, they were one in Christ.
Building Church and Community
A succession of ministers led the church through the next 2 centuries, although in the early 1800’s a split occurred, and a separate chapel was built in the town. In the mid-Victorian era, a chapel was built a few yards from the old one, and the two congregations united in the new building. This chapel continued in use until 2004 but, with its structural condition deteriorating, an offer was made to purchase the building and a decision in faith was made to sell it, not fully knowing the future. When a new site became available in the town centre which comprised of a shop and a car park, it was purchased. The shop was used for worship until the building work was finished.
Unity in our Diversity
What took place 350 years ago was painful for many. Those who dissented and those who remained both experienced loss. However, out of that time there came an expression of Christianity distinct from both Roman Catholic and the Anglican traditions. Since then, many other expressions of Christianity have emerged such as Methodism, Baptists, The Salvation Army and many more.
Dissent is not necessarily a bad thing, especially where fellowship between different parties remains respectful and warm. Most Christian churches celebrate their diversity and unity, working together whenever possible, and we are proud to be a part of this today.
A Church with a future
We would acknowledge that, out of the pain of 1662, precious pearls have been formed. What some saw a a setback, we see as an advance in the Kingdom of God in how we build church and community today – proud of our past but looking to the future to serve God and His Kingdom.