The centenary celebrations at Toxteth Tabernacle and the church today
Celebrations were held in 1971 with a number of special meetings held prior to the Centenary Day on 20th November. Two weeks prior to this, a week of prayer was held from 4th to 8th October, followed by a weekend of ministry by Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones. The following week there were a number of special guests including Rev Herbert Carson and Rev Geoffrey King, with a Centenary Tea held on the following Saturday, and then on the following Wednesday the Centenary Day – a Thanksgiving Service.
Between 6th and 14th November a Missionary Conference was held leading to the weekend of 13th/14th November at which the special speaker was Rev Duncan Campbell, whom God used powerfully in the Hebrides Revival. Between 27th November and 12th December a City Evangelistic Outreach was held.
A special booklet was put together for the occasion entitled "Amazing Grace" from which I have extracted some of the information for this booklet. In the foreword Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones said that in days such as these when the church is fighting for her existence, it is good to be reminded of other days which were very different and when churches were flourishing and extending. The contrast between a hundred years ago and today, he said, should not discourage us but rather drive us back to the realisation that the great and glorious past is not to be explained in human, political or sociological terms, but in terms of the power of the Holy Spirit and the unchanging Gospel.
In the booklet, the pastor of the church then, Robert Rowland rejoiced in the establishing of the church from a local community to its world-wide influence, with missionaries being sent out from the church to many countries of the world and also in the number of church plants that had taken place throughout Liverpool, from the Tabernacle.
Toxteth Tabernacle Church today
Toxteth Tabernacle is again a very much different church from what it was in 1971. Because of the changing situation in Liverpool and particularly in Toxteth it is no longer a "preacher’s church"¹ as it used to famously be known, but it has become a centre for community activity, open six days a week, and a church of all ages and nationalities that (to quote) "seeks to make Jesus known in a relevant way today." It employs three full-time staff, a senior pastor, a Children’s Family Worker, a City Ministries Outreach Worker, and also has a fairly large leadership team. Like it was to its founder, prayer is a very important part of the life of the church today, and presently meets for prayer on a daily basis for 1½ hours each morning with other Christians, and is also participating in a substantial way in Prayerfest during 2009.
1. I remember well going to the church sometime in the late 60’s/early 70’s when the church was packed to capacity. The speaker was Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones, who spoke inspirationally for 1½ hours from two verses in the Acts of the Apostles. I could easily have listened for another 1½ hours!