Years of Faithful Service (continued)

Zion owes many thanks to Mr Guthrie MTh, DB, a tutor at The London Bible College (now the London School of Theology) who supplied the pulpit on alternate weeks throughout the interregnum between pastors. Pastor Gould and Pastor Garrard also served the Church very faithfully through these years.
Zion’s third pastor was William Miles. The report of his appointment makes delightful reading and shows what a step of faith it was for both Church and Pastor. The minute books records:

“Our financial position is weak and anyone coming in acceptance of this position would come to a Church that has much to demand and very little to give, but this is the Lord’s work and so normal conditions, knowledge and financial problems did not apply.”

Mr Miles was previously engaged as a Missioner with the London City Mission and was well known to the folk at Zion as he had preached on a number of occasions over the previous fourteen years. A Manse at 10 Rockliffe Avenue was purchased on mortgage for the new Pastor and his wife. With the Church unable to support him financially Mr Miles took up employment with the Post Office. The Recognition Service was held on 10th September 1955 with Pastor Bennett and Mr Guthrie giving the charges to Pastor and to Church. Pastor asked the assembly “to remember this day in our prayers, asking the Lord to make it a time of rich blessing and that souls might be led to our Saviour throughout his ministry”. Unfortunately, circumstances did not allow his time with the Church to be as harmonious as he had wished. In April 1956 the secretary, Harold Freeman, met with the Pastor who records that it was “suggested that I resign my appointment as Pastor, owing to divisions in the Church of which I was the source”. A special meeting was called which was held in the most orderly way and decided that a reconciliation could be brought about, and that Pastor Miles’ ministry should continue. In December 1956 Pastor Miles wrote saying “It is with deep regret and bitter disappointment that I tender to you my resignation as your Pastor as I can no longer carry on in this capacity”. In a later letter he gave his reasons as “matters relating to Trust Deeds and Church Rules”. He and Mrs Miles resigned their membership on 13th January 1958.

Despite the difficulty of two pastors resigning within a short time the Church’s desire to call a pastor has remained undiminished through the last fifty years. Several men were viewed but without success. Most notable among them were Mr Chiltern of Watford, Mr Don McDonald of Ware and Mr Richard Hart who was then Assistant Pastor at Akeman Street Baptist Church in Tring. Whilst these dear brothers in Christ did not feel a call to Zion was right for them, they each supplied Zion’s pulpit for many years by providing sound ministry to the congregation. Other notable preachers through this period included Mr Bruce (Watford Tabernacle) who also presided at a number of functions including marriages and funerals, Pastor Chapman (Tring), Mr Groome (Colporteur), Dr Guthrie, Pastor Jenner (Chesham), Mr King, Pastor Lewin (Potten End), Pastor Ninnis (Beulah), Mr Sears, Pastor Sanderson (Two Waters) and Mr Whittington (Watford). What blessing the Lord gave to Zion in providing such rich ministry from so many faithful men over such a long period.

The people of Zion
There is no way of telling how many dear folk have come to worship at Zion during the last two centuries. William Upton’s survey of 1846 gives an inflated figure of 100 attending Sunday worship. Upton’s work also tells us that the total population of the Parish of Kings Langley was 11,629 of which 800 lived in the village. He makes the following comment under the heading “General Observation – Kings Langley is a respectable place, houses and residents above the common order. Generally moral, but very little real religion.” He rather disparagingly adds his thought of the “Parish Minister the Reverend J.W. Butt, that he is of bad character. Few will hear him”. However, as far as Church attendance is concerned the more reliable account is found in the 1851 Ecclesiastical Census which lists attendance at Zion as 34 in the morning, 54 at the afternoon service and 44 in the evening with 33 scholars attending the morning Sunday School and 27 the afternoon Bible Class.

Various Church rolls tell us that membership has fluctuated throughout the years from a low of 3 to a high of over 50, also Sunday School attendance has often been above 40. If we then take into account the numbers supporting the Fellowship of Youth, the Women’s Meetings and the Men’s Club the overall number must be quite significant. But among these people there are those that stand out from the records because of their selfless service to the work at Zion.

Richard Gulston
It was through the generosity of Richard Gulston that Zion Chapel was built. He gave the ground in 1835 and in the Deed of Transfer he specifically asked for a pew to be reserved for him and his family. Sadly, he was not able to avail himself of his “commodious seat” for long as he was called to Glory on 22nd May 1836, just six weeks after the opening of the Chapel. His son Richard (junior) was one of the original Trustees and he and his wife had two children baptised at Zion. The Gulston family remained in fellowship with the Church at least until the mid-1870s with a Mr and Mrs Gulston coming into membership in 1856, shortly before Richard (junior) died in the Spring of 1857.

Thomas Crane
We first read of Thomas, who was a miller by trade, as early as 1860 and he was succeeded by two more generations bearing the name Thomas. Each of these Thomas’s served as trustees and deacons through to 1904. The Crane family retained their “independent” Church stance even when all others had moved toward the “Strict Baptist” persuasion. We are told that the last “junior” Thomas was deceased prior to the “indenture” reconstituting the Church in 1922. Miss Ada Crane and Mr L. Crane were still in attendance in the mid-1930s.

George Davis
The records have no real information about this dear servant of God who served Zion so faithfully for the latter part of the 19thcentury. We know he first came in 1871 and there is no mention of him after 1908. Previously he had ministered at Woodlands Road Chapel, Woolwich and it was they who released him to faithfully serve the Church at Zion. The only reference we have to him is that “He was a humble servant but a powerful influence in the work for God”.

William Butler
Mr Reed records that William Butler became a member in 1873. He was not the first Butler at Zion for Mrs Elizabeth Butler was a member in 1864. William served as deacon and also as Sunday School Superintendent. He was a man of high principle and inflexible purpose”. Pastor Burrage of Salem left two interesting comments about this great servant of God. He said “How often, as I came into the sanctuary to preach, our brother’s bright face and cheery message would give me just the assurance I needed”. He was a man of deep prayer and much Bible study. Again, Mr Burrage records, when visiting him on his sick bed before he passed into Glory, he was asked to read a chapter of the Bible. Mr Burrage asked if he “could bear it”, to which William replied “Bear it, why it is my life, I cannot do without it”. William’s granddaughter Joy said of him “When publicly praying, tears would flow down his cheeks as he talked to God at the throne of Grace, and he would take others with him to the very gate of Heaven”.

John Butler
Although he had attended Zion from about 1885 John didn’t become a member until after his baptism by immersion in 1909. From that time he quickly became Church Secretary and a Trustee and also took over responsibility of Zion’s finances, and with the help of his wife Joy he supervised the Sunday School. Although he did not feel it was his calling to preach, he was constantly on the look out for promising young men he felt were fitted to preach. He was a great encourager of such men and a gentle critic of their first messages. All these functions he faithfully carried out for 40 years until he suffered a severe stroke in 1938. It is recorded that under his leadership the Church maintained a good witness to the power and grace of God. His daughter says of him “He was a kindly man of few words and punctilious in all his ways; folk in our road could put their clocks right by father’s movements”.

Several other Butler men were involved with the work together with the women folk of that industrious family. Colin and David Butler did not hold office in the Church but their constant and faithful service to the young people’s work over many years, right through to the 1960s was a blessing to all. John and Joy’s daughter, Joy also served as a Sunday School teacher and was active in the Women’s Fellowship until she moved to Yately in 1959. Mrs A, Mrs J, Mrs O and Miss J. Butler were very much modern “Marthas” in their generous hospitality and the comfort they brought to many as they visited homes. They served the Women’s Meeting in a number of capacities from its start in 1946 well into the 1970s.

The Surridge family
There is no mention of the first Surridges in the Church accounts but other records tell us of John(1) 1761-1848 and John(2) 1788-1866. John’s(1) wife Sarah bore him ten children which they raised even though they were very poor and were subject to a Removal Order in 1794, into the hands of The Church Wardens and Overseers of the poor of the Hamlet of Dagnall in the Parish of Edlesborough in the County of Buckinghamshire. By mid-1810 the family had moved to the Langleys, settling in Bedmond. Reuben(1) Their second son Joseph, 1789-1891 lived for 102 years, with the last 40 years in difficulties because he lost both legs in an accident. John(2), the eldest son, married Mary, an Abbots Langley girl and they were blessed with nine children between 1812 and 1830. Philip(1) 1828-1896 was the second youngest of this second generation. His wife Elizabeth brought five children into the world which included John(3) 1861-, Reuben(1) 1865-1918, who married Lois(1), (pictured left) and Mercy 1871-1926. It is from these three that the generations of Surridges at Zion most came.

We are uncertain when the Surridge family first came to Zion but Philip’s(1) sister Ann married William How in 1850 and there were members of the How family attending in the early days of Zion. We know that John(3) and Reuben(1) were attending in the early 1880s and that John together with William Butler led Zion in the change from a Calvinist to a Strict Baptist persuasion. Those two men were baptised together by Mr Burrage at Bedmond Chapel on 7th June 1896.

John became a Trustee in 1904, the first of five Surridges’ who served in this capacity from 1904 to 1977. John(3) was one of three original members of the new Zion Baptist Church and served as Secretary and Sunday School Superintendent. He removed to Harlesden in London a little before the second World War.

It was the grandson of John(2) and brother of John(3), Reuben(1) whose family became core servants at Zion throughout the middle period of the 1900s.

Pictured left, the Surridges in 1961. From left to right: Philip, Thomas, Lois(2), John(4) and Reuben(2). God has surely blessed the “seed” these faithful servants sowed in Jesus’ name.
Lois and Thomas were much involved in the fellowship but later both moved to serve Churches in Hemel Hempstead, but Philip (1955-1981), Reuben(2)(1939-1974) and John(4)(1947-1986) all served as deacons. Thomas accepted the appointment of Trustee of Zion in 1922.

Lois and Thomas were much involved in the fellowship but later both moved to serve Churches in Hemel Hempstead, but Philip (1955-1981), Reuben(2)(1939-1974) and John(4)(1947-1986) all served as deacons. Thomas accepted the appointment of Trustee of Zion in 1922.