The history included in this project has come largely from the information collected for the 30th Birthday events held in our church in 1995.  As we approached our 40th birthday, we again became more aware of our history.  This project as originally produced for the “Course in Christian Studies” in 2003, and was updated during 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2011.

History Outline


The Church

In 1932 the St. Albans and Chelmsford Church Trust purchased a plot of land in Perry Street, on the northern outskirts of Billericay, for £300.  The plot extended 420ft from the road.  A mission hut was built the following year, to cater for those who lived in the new housing that was being built in the area.  The area was then part of the parish of Ingatestone with Buttsbury.  In 1965 the mission hut had served for 32 years but was no longer suitable for the regular use of the congregation, the foundations having deteriorated, and a church was built.  The consecration service was held on 11 December 1965.


The mission hut

The picture shows Peter Sandberg, at the time of the building of the new hall.

A wider view of the mission hut.

Inside the new church the choir process.  There are movable chairs at the front and pews from the old church at the back.

The fund for the new church opened in 1961.  In order to keep the cost of the building down to £32,000, in 1964, the building plan was simplified.  £12,000 was provided by the diocese, to use this money a survey was required, to count the local Anglicans, and determine their support for a new church.  After the occupation of the new building, the hut was used as a Church Hall until 1982. 


Occupation does not mean stagnation, and the church has continued to develop.  Originally, the font was fixed, but was mounted on wheels when the carpet was laid.  The pews were replaced with chairs, and the wooden and metal chairs were replaced with upholstered ones.  The heating was changed, and then upgraded.  Amplification was added, and later a loop installed for people with hearing difficulties.  The sound system has been adjusted and upgraded a number of times.

The Hall


By 1980 it had become apparent that the hall (the old Mission Hut) in its present form also required replacing.  Plans were drawn up, and fund raising began.  The plan for the site can be seen here, but is no longer to the scale indicated.  The new hall opened in 1982, with some severe restrictions on its use, as once again cost cutting had taken its toll.  The ‘plan’ to the right is not entirely accurate, and in 2004 we completed the next phase, by joining the two buildings.

The inside of Christ Church around this time has changed very little since 1965.

Buildings today, and plans for the future

Above: Three pictures to show the outside of our building, avoiding trees and notice boards.

Below: New blinds to make use of the OHP easier, banners to improve decoration, and eliminate some of the ‘strobe’ effects of the screen, new art work by a member of the congregation.


After a period of relative quiet, shortly after the millennium serious consideration is given to filling the awkward gap left between the church and the hall.  Following new regulation our kitchen and toilets do not meet the standards required, so further changes to our buildings are planned.


An atrium now fills the gap between the church and hall.

Along with the Atrium, the hall kitchen, and toilet facilities were re-appoint, an additional fire escape provided at the back of the church, and the storage area at the back of the hall can be accessed from the church or the hall.


The Atrium was built as a community project.  Some funding was provided by Landfill Trusts.

The computer simulation is very realistic, although we do have a better taste in colour schemes

The Atrium as it is in 2010.

Community Events and Activities

Christ Church, Billericay is part of a team ministry, with Emmanuel, Billericay, St. Johns, Outward Common, and St Mary the Virgin, Little Burstead.  We are also members of “Churches Together in Billericay” (CTB).  It is through CTB that our most notable community events have occurred.  As part of mission ’84, in July, CTB produced “The Christ” – The story of Jesus’ life performed throughout the town, starting in Lake Meadows Park, with his Baptism, and working through the High Street, and finally to Sun Corner, where the crucifixion and resurrection were staged.

Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees, in Lake Meadows.

In the High Street.

The crucifixion, on Sun Corner.

The town has become used to the Christians and their “Walk of Witness” blocking the High Street on Good Fridays, but there has been nothing like this.  On a blazing hot Saturday in July, the Christians re-enact the life of Christ.  A huge number of people who came to watch, and followed the scenes as they moved through the town.  As almost everyone in the churches seemed to be involved in some way, the majority of the spectators must have been interested in seeing what we were up to.

Mission ‘89

Also organised by CTB, but largely driven by Christ Church, because Rob, our vicar was chairman at the time.  Mission ’89 invited J. John, to come and speak to the town.  This was a serious mission, and the Christians in the town were organised into local areas to pray for their street.  There was a tent on Sun Corner, and we invited those we knew to come along to one or more of the evenings.


This idea is promoted by the Children’s Society and is used by them as a fund raiser.  It has proved enormously popular since being move to Christmas eve.  Christ church now runs three Christingle services in Christmas eve, catering for the very young in the afternoon through to the older and adult in the early evening.  The Christinge is a symbol, helping us remember the truth of the gospel:

·         The orange reminds us of  world.

·         The candle stands tall and straight and gives light in the dark like the love of God.

·         The red ribbon goes all around the 'world' and is a symbol of the blood Jesus shed when he died for us.

·         The four sticks point in all directions and symbolise North, South, East and West - they also represent the four seasons.

·         The fruit, nuts, sweets represent the fruits of the earth, God’s gift to and for all of us, nurtured by the sunshine and the rain.



Launched in 2008, Eastingle is intended to pick up on the popularity of Christingle.  It was developed at Christ Church by the youth worker and several of the Children’s team.  Instead of an orange, a hot cross bun is used to remind us of the Easter story.



A Saturday morning event for Dads and small children.  Breakfast and fun are available.

Major Events Summary


11 Dec: Consecration of Christ Church


Debt for church cleared


Purchased organ from St Johns Mountnessing.


A scout hut was built on the Christ Church site.


Land was sold to build a vicarage next door to church.


A parish mission was lead by Peter Ashton, who would later be rector.


Christ Church Financial Times first published.  Amplification added.


Billericay parish becomes a team ministry, and is joined to the Basildon deanery


The heating was replaced with electric infra-red units.


12 Jun: The Hall Opens

The BBC Songs of Praise program comes from Christ Church.  This is a youth event.


Mission ’84: The Christ


The Christ church office opened.

Christ church had its first church weekend away.


In November the resurfacing of the car park was completed.  Much of this work was done by the congregation and as a result an estimated £36,000 was saved.


The Church Urban Fund target allocated to Christ Church was exceeded.


Mission ’89.  J.John comes to Billericay.  Billericay wide prayer cells


30th Birthday Year: Arts Festival


Flower Festival


Appointment of first youth worker - Carrie


Christ Church web site launched. Here is the first ever page


Chairs replaced


First visit to Tanzania


The original 1965 lighting is finally replaced.


Atrium completed

Appointment of second youth worker - Mark


40th Birthday Year – Various Outreach Events.  Most notably the Murder Mystery


May: Church Weekend Away, lead by Stephen Dinsmore

Christ Church has a Reader for the first time in many years - Jane


A second Reader is licensed - Pete


Eastingle Service Launched
Church Weekend Away
A third Reader is licensed – Margaret




A new projector was installed in the early part of the year, making it possible to show video properly for the first time.

Christ Church TV – a youtube channel was launched.

The remainder of the projection equipment was installed in time for Christmas, with fold-back monitor, professional screen and remote control.

Staff at Christ Church

Dec 1962 – 1968

Barry Williamson

1968 - 1972

Edward Pilkington

1972 – 1983

Peter Sandberg, Curate, and later Team Vicar

1984 – 1991

Rob Richards, Team Vicar

1985 – 1991

            Ron Bradford, Church Army Captain.

1991 – 1998

Gavin Wakefield, Team Vicar

1997 – 2001

            Martin Howard, Curate.

Feb 1999 – Mar 2006

Paul Hinckley, Team Vicar

Sep 2000 – Jul 2004

            Carrie Leslie, Youth Worker

Sep 2004 – Jul 2007

            Mark Pape, Youth Worker

Jun 2006 -

Warner Pidgeon, Team Vicar

Jun 2007 -

            Liz Fisher, Youth Worker


The need for building?

Some of the decisions taken in 1965 still affect us today.  The heating system was inadequate, and cause cracking of the walls.  The proposed gallery at the rear of the church changed the nature of the space entirely.  It would have prevented us from doing many of our current activities.  However, the vision of building a church of this size in the ‘God is dead’ decade of the 1960’s is truly inspired.

The question we must address time and again is “To build, or not to build?” and “What are our buildings for?”.  Are we, as the bishop[i] says in the consecration service, building to show Gods glory and somehow expecting Him to stay in the building, or are our buildings merely a tool?  In the 30th birthday video 1 Kings 8:22-61 is shown, (see Appendix 1).  This seems like a useful passage; it reminds us that God cannot be contained in a building (v27), but concentrates on the use of the building as a focus for the people.  So that, for example they may pray towards the building and God will hear them.  This does not mean that the building itself is prayed to.  In a society such as ours, where not everyone is convinced even of the existence of God, building to His glory provides a focal point in the community.  It has to be noticeable in its own right to achieve this.  In our case this is the illuminated cross on the top of our building.  It also has to be used, and available, and we have a number of events that do this … both regular youth outreach, and various one off’s, like the 30th Birthday arts festival.

The church (and its people), is also a place people can turn to, to encounter God and experience his forgiveness (v33 & 34).  In Samuel’s case, this was for the nation, in our case it applies to the individual.  This is because our building is not of national importance, but it does have an importance to the local community. 

Gods Promises

The 1 Kings passage also reminds us that God has kept his promise, something that we have seen many times in our life at Christ church.  The vision of David to build for God, is paralleled by the vision of those who purchased the land, in the 1930’s (it was much too large for the hut, or even the current church), and the people who built the church in 1965.  Even in a growing area the church was enormous, but God has fulfilled his promises to us also.  Christ church provides a reasonably flexible worship space.  However many compromises had been made from the original design, enabling us to do things that would never have been dreamt of like the art exhibition, a 3D obstacle course for a youth event, and various concerts.  All easily fit in.  The building has been useful in gathering the congregation in a developing area, and attracting people to see who God is (we hope), through the people who worship there.  There were 400 baptisms in one year, in the late 60’s.

Christ’s Church

Throughout the building process, the fund raising and the difficulties and disagreements, the things that people remember the most are the fellowship.  God has built His community around the church, just as He had in Samuel’s time.  Hopefully we are easier to join than the Jews turned out to be.  Indeed, we have a reputation for being friendly and ‘adopting’ people, at least that is what some of our visitors tell us.  An example of this occurred during the 1980s when a local independent Christian community broke up.  Most of them joined our church, and many of them are still with us.


Not everything we do is covered by one Old Testament passage.  We must also consider the New Testament commands of Jesus.  Particularly the command in Matthew 28:19[ii] to make disciples.  We have been obedient to this in a number of different ways:

  • Supporting ordination candidates
  • Regular events for Mothers and Toddlers, Children after school, and the early teens.
  • Supporting missionaries, both from other areas and our own church.


Our congregation is organised into Home Groups, for mutual support, and mutual study, in this way we are obeying Jesus command in John 13:34[iii] to love one another.  Not everyone will join a Home Group, but those that do not are asked regularly as the Home groups change and new ones form.  Special provision is always made for them when Home Groups run events, such as the Maundy Thursday Agape meal.

There is also an opportunity to ask for and receive prayer in the services.  In the past, this has extended to practical help, although sadly we no longer do this.

Appendix 1: 1 Kings 8:22-61 – Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication or the Temple


22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands towards heaven
23 and said:  O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below--you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.
24 You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it--as it is today.

25 Now LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, 'You shall never fail to have a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons are careful in all they do to walk before me as you have done.'
26 And now, O God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.
27 But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!
28 Yet give attention to your servant's prayer and his plea for mercy, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.
29 May your eyes be open towards this temple night and day, this place of which you said, 'My Name shall be there,' so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays towards this place.
30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray towards this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling-place, and when you hear, forgive.
31 When a man wrongs his neighbour and is required to take an oath and he comes and swears the oath before your altar in this temple,
32 then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty and bringing down on his own head what he has done. Declare the innocent not guilty, and so establish his innocence.

33 When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and confess your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple,
34 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their fathers.

35 When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray towards this place and confess your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them,
36 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.

37 When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come,
38 and when a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel--each one aware of the afflictions of his own heart, and spreading out his hands towards this temple--
39 then hear from heaven, your dwelling-place. Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men),
40 so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our fathers.
41 As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name--
42 for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm--when he comes and prays towards this temple,
43 then hear from heaven, your dwelling-place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.
44 When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the LORD towards the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name,
45 then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.
46 When they sin against you--for there is no-one who does not sin--and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to his own land, far away or near;
47 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their conquerors and say, 'We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly';
48 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you towards the land you gave their fathers, towards the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name;
49 then from heaven, your dwelling-place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.
50 And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offences they have committed against you, and cause their conquerors to show them mercy;
51 for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace.
52 May your eyes be open to your servant's plea and to the plea of your people Israel, and may you listen to them whenever they cry out to you.
53 For you singled them out from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, O Sovereign LORD, brought our fathers out of Egypt.
54 When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the LORD, he rose from before the altar of the LORD, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out towards heaven.
55 He stood and blessed the whole assembly of Israel in a loud voice, saying:
56 Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.
57 May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us nor forsake us.
58 May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep the commands, decrees and regulations he gave our fathers.
59 And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day's need,
60 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.
61 But your hearts must be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.


[i] Enter, 0 Lord, we beseech thee, this house which is built to thy glory, that it may be hallowed by thine abiding presence, and within the hearts of thy faithful people establish for thyself an everlasting habitation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.


[ii]Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."


[iii] Jonh 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (NIV)