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Golden era celebrated for iconic Birmingham church

STILL STANDING: The New Testament Church of God, known as The Rock

A CHURCH which has been one of the main foundations for worship for the African and Caribbean community in Birmingham celebrates a golden milestone on Sunday August 20 as it rejoices in its 50th anniversary.

The New Testament Church of God, known as The Rock in George Street West, Hockley, is a testament to its own success over the decades because the original church pioneers have had to move several times to accommodate the growing congregation.

The Sunday celebrations begin with a special service at 11am, followed by an anniversary gala dinner at the H Suite, also known as The Venue, 100 Icknield Port Road.

It’s a humbling success story for those first founding fathers who were just ten in number and were sent out to evangelise in the Ladywood area of Birmingham back in 1966.

In August of that year, Reverend Dr. G F Barnes commissioned ten members of the New Testament Church of God in Handsworth, led by Reverend P. Williams and Sister L. Williams to plant a little church in Ladywood. They were supported by eight other members: Brother Bailey, Sister Bailey, Sister Grant, Brother Duncan, Sister Parkes, Brother Riley, Sister Fearon and Sister McIntosh.

In January 1967 the church was formally recognised by Reverend Barnes as they ‘Ladywood church’ which was first based in Sterwart Street, and among other locations Barford Road.

HISTORY: Some of the young members of The Rock congregation

Sharon Atkinson, a spokesperson for The Rock and its anniversary celebrations, said:

“The church soon became a place of great growth and fellowship. It continued to grow and the congregation was able to buy a Methodist chapel in New Spring Street.

“The fellowship continued to grow and eventually again became too large for the New Spring Street location – at the time it was a wonderful problem to have.

“God was with us and the church was able to buy the large St Peter’s Anglican Church on George Street West in 2001 – this landmark church now represents for us the manifestation of decades of hard work and a great dream. We have come a long way together.”

The gala dinner, led by Reverend Jonathan Jackson, has been specially thought out to comprise five courses with each course representing a decade of the church’s life.

Atkinson added:

“Within the serving of each course will be remembrance of each decade in a unique format. By the time the fifth course is served we will look at a vision of the future of NTCG the Rock and our relevance as we the community of today.”

The evening will include entertainment from award-winning choirs, TV contestants from a popular TV programme, a comedian, together from the Rock’s own house band.

“There will also be storytelling, but delivered in a very unique way, unquenchable fun and high level entertainment. No one should leave this event disappointed,” said Atkinson.

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