Our History

The Baptist Movement 

Baptist Believers emerged from the ‘State’ church (Church of England) in the 17th Century because they believed that Christ, and not the reigning Monarch, was the Head of the Church.  They held to 3 core beliefs that have gone on to shape Baptist Churches today: 

1. The Bible (not church tradition or religious creed) is the guide in all matters of faith and doctrine.

2. The church should be made up of believers only – not all people born into a local parish.

3. The church should be governed by believers (“Priesthood of all Believers”), not by hierarchical figures like bishops. 

The term “Baptist” was given by opponents to this new movement because of their practice of baptizing people by full immersion in water.  It wasn’t until the 19th Century that Baptists accepted the use of the label to describe themselves. 

Baptists became known as “non-conformists” or “dissenters” as they attempted to get back to a more Gospel-centered faith that focused on an individual’s need for personal salvation by grace through faith rather than being born into a “Christian State”.  Throughout the 17th Century these pioneer Believers were persecuted for their beliefs, but they persisted and saw churches begin to grow.  In 1792 a small group of Baptist church leaders formed the first Evangelical foreign mission organization – The Baptist Missionary Society – and sent William Carey, their first missionary, to India the following year.  The BMS continues today under the name “BMS World Mission.”  The 19th Century saw significant growth among Baptist churches in the UK as great preachers like Charles Haddon Spurgeon drew crowds in their thousands.  Women were ordained in the Baptist church almost 100 years before the Church of England ordained women priest in 1994.  Today, more than 100 million Christians worldwide would identify themselves as belonging to Baptist-style churches. 

Sunday School Tent Mission, Kingfield 1929

New Life Church at Kingfield 

Baptist witness in Woking began in 1879 with a small group meeting in a home in Goldsworth Road, as a “Branch Mission Station” from Addlestone Baptist Church.   This eventually became Woking Baptist Church.    

In 1929 Woking Baptist Church (now Welcome Church) planted a Sunday School tent mission which soon attracted adults.  In 1930 a chapel was built (and still forms the main worship area of our present building).

In 1956 Kingfield Baptist Church was formally established as an independent Baptist Church with 91 Foundation Members. 

In 1986, following a difficult period in the life of Kingfield Baptist with only 12 remaining church members, it merged with another group called New Life Church that had come out of a local Anglican church a few years previously.  The 2 churches merged, taking on the premises of Kingfield Baptist (our current premises) and the name of New Life Church.  Since then, there have continued to be ups and downs in the life of the church with periods of significant growth and painful divisions.   

In 2008 the Church’s 10th and longest serving Pastor, Andrew Kane, retired and – following a long and painful “interregnum” – our present Pastor, Alan Nelson, was appointed in January 2012.  

Every new Pastoral appointment brings with it new challenges and opportunities.  One of the experiences Alan Nelson, with his wife, Karen, brought to New Life was the healing of hurtful histories in church life.  With God’s guidance and the support of the Elders and other leaders, Alan & Karen led the church through a prayerful process of identifying areas requiring healing and uncovering the original God-given building blocks of the church – our “Foundational DNA”.  This process, and the confession and forgiveness of past hurts and mistakes, enabled us to celebrate all the good in the past, while working to bring healing for the pains and reconciliation. 

Re-centered and re-invigorated, we have since made significant and positive progression pursuing our vision and call to mission.  

In November 2013, as a response to emerging needs, the church set up South Woking Community Foodbank that has made an impact on the lives of many families over the years.  The Foodbank continues today with a committed team of volunteers who collate the weekly client list, shop, pack and deliver to families who have been referred by schools, social services, etc.  An average food parcel contains over 75 items and costs in excess of £50.  We are currently delivering up to 10 parcels a week.  We are grateful to individual church members who donate money and food items, but we have also received significant funding from local government and charitable funding.  In addition, we provide special Christmas Hampers which also include gifts for children.

In 2014, following research into local needs, we made provision for a local independent Christian Pre-School to operate from our premises.  This is highly respected in the community and has consistently received the highest “Outstanding” report from OFSTED.

In 2018 New Life Church changed its legal status and became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. 

Following the Covid-19 Pandemic when churches were closed, we have struggled to bring everyone back into church life and regular worship.  From April 2020 to June 2021 we live-streamed our Sunday services online.  Like many churches world-wide, we found some folk were excited to return to live worship while others had become accustomed to not meeting.  This has had a significant impact on children, youth and families and we are striving to recover and rebuild.