Camp Hilll History
History of the Camp Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church
Note: The report below was written to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the building of the new Camp Hill church. It was first published as a small leaflet and was uploaded to this web-site on 16 September 1999. Parts of it have been transcribed while other parts have simply been scanned.
There are probably about 10 current members of Camp Hill who can still remember when it was called South Birmingham SDA Church.
In those days they had no church in which to worship so they met wherever they could, over a butcher's shop on Stratford Road, in a Co-operative Hall or in a large private house in Mansell Road, Small Heath. (Mansell Road was nearly bought as a church but various matters arose which made it not totally suitable as a church building). Back in 1953, Pastor Jesse Clifford, the then minister, bought a corner of the grassland by Ravenhurst Street and Lowe Street in order to build a church. However, planning permission was refused so he sold it back to the Council. The land is now occupied by an electricity sub-station. Due to an increased membership from two large Birmingham evangelistic campaigns run by Pastor T J Bradley and pastor K Lacey, the need for a church building for the South Birmingham members increased tremendously. Eventually, a building was spotted for sale by several members. It was originally a Presbyterian Church that had been bought by the Christian Scientists but was then standing vacant. In 1955, this church was purchased by the Seventh-day Adventists for the sum of £11,000. It was in need of much renovation, cleaning, altering and painting but the members and Pastors worked hard on it and on 2nd April 1995 the Camp Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church was opened. An official dedication came later on 14th May 1955 with 61 charter members. From this modest beginning the membership has grown to the present figure of 535. Since its opening in 1955, many ordained ministers and Bible workers have served the congregation and young men starting their ministerial careers have been assistant ministers and youth leaders. Each has contributed faithfully and well to the increasing membership and evangelistic work of the church. Plans had been in consideration for many years for a road improvement scheme in the Camp Hill area. Before the 'Old' Camp Hill church was bought, assurances were given that it would not be affected by any road alterations. However, Councils, leaders and policies change as time goes on and in 1979 compulsory acquisition orders were served on Camp Hill. In co-operation with the members, the long, hard work of planning for a new building began. Sadly on Monday evening, 5th January 1987, the 'Old' Camp Hill was gutted by fire. The cause of the fire is unknown but thankfully the minister of St John's Church of England, church council and members of St Johns helped in our time of need and allowed us to use their Church in Sparkhill. After years of negotiations, committee work, architectural planning and fund raising, building work began in 1986 and on 10th May 1987 the 'New' Camp Hill Church was opened.
THE REST IS AS THEY SAY, HISTORY
A Musical Church
Camp Hill has been long known as a musical church. From local church services to Conference Sessions and Union Sessions, and television Camp Hill musicians have blessed congregations with their music. Their God-given talents using their solo and combined voices, traditional and unusual instruments are remembered as we look back at those who have been involved in this special area of ministry.
The Male Voice Choir With Bro Groce as its original leader.
Paul & Geoffry Belton - Male Duet
Exodus Camp Hill origins
J.V.G. Junior Voices of God (Georgina Sinclair Janet Smith & Velda Welch)
Lameer - The band of the late 1980’s.
A.Y.Singers A choir out on its own on Songs of Praise and throughout England with their perfomances.
City Of Refuge - Broke the mould of instrumental music in the 1970’s.
Sweet Inspiration - (Maryline Sinclair, Yvonne Smith & Linda Welch)
Church Choir - Consistent and long serving leaders & singers.
Sis Hutson & Sis Walton - An early pair singing duets.
Spirit & Sound - Produced an album.
Young Hope - The current official children’s choir.
The Proclaimers - Singing Jericho Road and Peace In The Valley.
Serenity - Yvonne Smith, Elma Morgan, Robert Brooks, Jackie & Diana Sinclair.
Selwyn & Patrick Anderson - The singing Anderson boys
The Ladies Group - Led by Sis Brooks over many years.
Bro Peters - With his singing saw.
Sinclair Sisters - Individually and together.
Youth Orchestra - Came together at Christmas and special occasions.
RSV - Album makers with David Burt
Youth Choir - The choir of the 1960’s and 70’s.
The Quarries - The harmonising family voices of Fredrica, Larrissa, Andrea, Linda and Worth (eventually).
"Serve the Lord with gladness:
come before His presence with singing.’
WHAT I REMEMBER MOST
Over the past year a number of the young people at Camp Hill have been going around the membership asking for their memories of being at Camp Hill. Many memories were happy but others were sad, serious, funny and in some cases strange. Whatever emotions they bring up, they were all part of being at Camp Hill.
‘Going on marches to Town on Sabbath afternoons on Youth Days.’
‘I will always remember the Pathfinders selling magazines on Sunday mornings and getting tips. We always had a card that said:
"We are members of the above society and in order to raise funds for camping equipment we are selling these wonderful magazines, Health & Happiness (2s 6d), Good News (2s) and Happy Hours (1s 6d)"
"The Church trips were unforgettable when Bro Batchelor used to get 6 Bowens Coaches and the whole church used to go to the seaside."
"I remember the play "Esther put on at Digbeth Hall with Bro Peters as Hamaan and Eslynn Mullings as Esther."
"Bro Ferguson's green and beige van that seemed to take everyone everywhere."
"Bro Tappers Zephyr 6 and his "I like Spike" sticker in the back window."
"Coming back from the Pathfinder Camporee with the shield as usual we would always sing ‘We are nearing home’ just as we are getting to the flyover."
"Remember the Koinonia Club in Stratford Hall on Monday nights?"
"What was the scene painted by Keith Piper in Stratford Hall? I forget."
"I’ll never forget that hole in the kitchen floor in Stratford Hall where mice lived."
"I remember Sis Dyer would always cut her cake up with it still in the tin!"
"Do you remember the "We need a church school" song?"
"I remember the Stewart’s Concerts and days of fellowship at Digbeth Hall"
"The games we used to play - Spin the Plate, Rachel and Jacob, Round the Table (table tennis where everyone plays with whatever they can find), Beat Your Wife (you couldn’t call it that today though), Pass The Ring, Musical Islands, Nelson Eye, The March - Three Step (every New Year), Love Train (the shame game), Prince of Wales, Pass the Current, Bigamy (how do you play that again?), Blanket Game, Boots Without Spurs, Numbers, If I Loose, Rhythm, and so many more.
"Bank holiday outings to Lickey Hills where everyone went and played games
"The man who lived next door to the church who had a motor bike with a side-car shaped like a coffin."
I remember the Flyover just at the bottom of Stratford Road."
I remember Sabbath afternoon summers when we rarely stayed in church but went to the Lickeys, Lichfield Cathedral, Clent Hills, Hopwood Reservoirs, Cleo Hills.
"Le Chateau was really good, the talk of the country. Remember the Le Chateau Song? What about the Le Chateau fashion show."
"Its not that long ago but I will never forget the Lake District retreat."
"The all night car convoys were good."
"I remember when pigeons were flying about in Divine Worship."
"No way. Everyone must have some memories about The Balcony. If anything went on it started on the balcony. What about that time when a young couple got caught kissing on the balcony!"
"The radiator at the bottom of the stairs - the warmest place church."
"I remember trying on Bro Hewitt’s headphones at the back of church."
"I remember tasting samples at Sis McIntyre’s cookery workshops."
"What about Farmer Morgan’s Field where we used to go camping and he used to take the cows out of the field the morning we arrived!"
"I’ll never forget The Witness musical. Squash meetings were good."
"Christ for the Crisis Crusade with Pastor Flynn sticks out for me."
Pastor Bryan’s ‘Dead Men Do Tell Tales’ used to go on every Sunday."
"The film, ‘I Beheld His Glory’ was awful. It was shown every year!"
"No-one can ever forget the smell of the men's toilet in the old church."
"Remember we even had our own health food shop. I remember buying small bags of cashew nuts, Sunnybisk, Meatless Steaks that tasted like rubber and Nutbrawn that looked like dog food."
"I remember all the young people going to Aberdaron every summer."
"Years ago on Saturday nights we would bake potatoes in the open fire in the Stratford Hall and sing around the electric camp fire."
"I used to hide from Bro Robinson after Pathfinders in the film room."
"Remember we had a big mothers' room the full width of the church?"
"We used to have 5 people playing one song on the piano downstairs."
"Shame! Pastor Antonio ‘ambushed’ an Adventist party once. You should have seen those young people run! So I hear, I wasn’t there."
‘Pastor Haydens frank meetings until late after his crusade meetings.’
"Remember how the bus drivers would drop you outside church before the bus stop. And what about the furniture shop by the bus stop on the way to town."
Last updated 25 June 2001.