History and beliefs
The Worthing Tabernacle Church is located in the town centre of Worthing opposite the Town Hall. It was founded in 1896 by Pastor Douglas Crouch. For reasons of conscience he and others were led to sever their connections with the Baptist Union owing to its absorption of liberal views on Scripture (the Downgrade Movement) – thus the Tabernacle Evangelical Free church began and it has endeavoured to be faithful to the original concept. The church considers itself to be Christ-centred, Bible-based, and Spirit-led. We also believe the Bible is the Inspired, Infallible, Inerrant word of God. Our aim is to Win, Build and Send. We hold to the FIEC Statement of Faith and are used to powerful, uncompromising preaching. We are not cessationist and offer prayer for healing after an evening communion service and operate the practice in James 5:14-15.
Premises and services
Our building is a Grade II listed building which will hold some 500 people in the main auditorium which consists of a ground floor with almost semi-circular pews radiating out from a platform housing a full-immersion baptistery. There is a raised pulpit area above the baptistery accessed by two curved staircases. Around the main auditorium is a first-floor ‘horse-shoe’ shaped gallery. To the back of the rear gallery are the control desks from which the audio-visual equipment is operated. We currently hold two main services on a Sunday. On one Sunday a month the morning service is preceded by a devotional type communion service. Our service style is conservative in ‘feel’, however many of our congregation are at ease in raising hands during the singing of songs but not at the point of dancing in the aisles. We endeavour to maintain a balance of old and new scriptural hymns and songs. Our three music groups would like more instrumentalists but are very faithful in their leadership of our singing.
Leadership and ministries
Our constitution requires that we hold communion every week – this is done at different times to accommodate the varying availabilities of our congregations. We have always offered refreshments after the evening service and have recently introduced coffee and tea after the morning service. We have a crèche, Sunday School and small teenage youth group. The leadership of the Fellowship comprises of a Pastor, Rich Owen, four Elders and four Deacons at present. We have a small, salaried, staff team led by a part-time Administrator. The church family is divided into 10 Home Groups headed up by Pastoral Group Leaders and these meet on alternate Wednesdays in people’s homes for fellowship, prayer and bible study. On the intervening Wednesdays we hold a ‘Down-town’ prayer meeting at the church for the whole fellowship.
As a Great Commission Church we have a history of involvement in mission supporting a number of folk/families who have been sent out by the fellowship to locations at home and abroad. We financially support some 45 Indian Dalit Pastors and have strong association with overseas ministries in India and Africa. We have a concern for the lost and to that end we operate a weekly outreach in the Town centre shopping precinct distributing tracts and engaging people in conversation as appropriate. We join with the residents of the Town in the Remembrance Service around the War Memorial opposite the church and serve the people with teas and coffees afterwards.
Our church Foyer is open seven days a week so that people can come in for advice, prayer, literature etc. We have a bible on permanent display outside the front of the church on which a new verse is indicated on daily basis. Our premises are quite extensive and we operate a Coffee Shop and Gift Shop/Bookshop with volunteer staff. Other ministries in the fellowship include Men’s Fellowship, Christianity Explored & Discipleship courses, Mothers and Toddlers (CAMEO), International Language School, Home Communion for housebound etc. and each of these is headed up by a ministry leader. Our membership is currently around 222 plus children plus a regular flow of visitors.