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Loudwater Baptist Church closes
A CHURCH which has served Loudwater since the late 1800s has closed after its congregation was reduced to just two members.
Sunday services at Loudwater Baptist Church stopped last year, but members still held regular bible studies in the ‘tin tabernacle’ building on Station Road.
The church is now set to be sold by the Baptist Union, with the remaining members invited to join Wycombe Marsh Baptist Church, where most of the books and furniture have already been moved.
Hilda Slater, one of the remaining members, said: "I really loved the little church and I’m very sad about it. I’ve been going for 12 years but it was impossible to carry on.
"We did have about 11 members but some people passed away. When we had the last service in June it was two members officially who were left."
It is thought the church first opened around 1891.
Regional minister Rev Colin Pye, also minister of Little Kingshill Baptist Church, said Loudwater was kept going for many years by a "dear lady" called Miriam Martin, but she died about a year ago.
He added: "Although I’m presuming the building will still have a community use we hope to sell it to Christian church of some sort. But we can make no guarantees about that.
"With St Peter’s it’s got a really excellent church on its doorstep, so I’m glad there’s still a really positive Christian presence in that area. It’s always sad but the reality is in this day and age that people aren’t going to church as often."
More about the Baptist Church:
The first Baptist congregation was in Holland in 1609, when Church of England minister John Smyth performed the radical act of baptising himself by pouring water on his head.
Smyth and fellow reformer Thomas Helwys had left England after being persecuted for wanting to purify the Church of all traces of Roman Catholicism.
They believed the Bible, not tradition or religious creed, was the guide in all matters of faith and practice, and said the church should be made up of believers only, not all people born in the parish.
They also said the church should be governed by those believers, not by hierarchical figures like bishops.
Baptists reject infant baptism, believing the ritual should involve full immersion in water and should only be performed on those who can personally declare Jesus as the Lord.
It is the fifth largest Christian movement in the world, with a large proportion of members in North America. There are about 150,000 Baptists in the UK.