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Record-breaking baptism of teenager on 216th anniversary of Ilford church brings hope for future


A Baptist Pastor in Ilford has been jumping with joy over the exciting prospect that faces him over the next few days. Ilford High Road Baptist Church (IHRBC) which was the first free church in Ilford celebrates its 216th anniversary on Sunday.

Ian Morris the church archivist described the history of the church, he said:

"High Road as a church is 216 years old, the fellowship itself is a little older going back to 1796 when a  few men from London engaged two small rooms for nonconformist worship.

"Two years later the fellowship meet in Mr Pratt's front room and it was on land that he owned the first chapel was built in 1801 being opened on Sunday 27th September near Ilford Hill. The first sermon was from Gen 28:17 'This is none other than the house of God".

Mr Morris explained how in 1803 the church then moved to the heart of Ilford Town Centre, near where the current Ilford Exchange Shopping Mall has been built. He provided an image:

Pastor Andrew Willis who has been researching the history of the church since joining IHRBC in Januay 2016 at their current building which was built in 1901, spoke of his delight that the same message of forgiveness and life in Jesus Christ is still being taught today but in a more contemporary fashion.  

He evidenced how the message was still relevant by sharing the wonderful news that  Hannah Chowdhry, who is 13 years old is about to tell her story of faith, at her baptism on the 5th November 2017, at 10:30 am.

Pastor Andrew, said:

"The church usually baptises people of faith once they reach the age of 14, however in the case of Hannah we are convinced that her faith is very real and she is ready to be baptised."

He added:

"It is a great way to celebrate our anniversary as baptism is very symbolic of the requirements of our faith." 

Pastor Andrew explained that Christian baptism brings us to the heart of our faith. We believe that Jesus died to set us free from sin and evil and rose again to give us eternal life. The practice of Baptism symbolises the washing away of our sins and rising into new life. It must be understood that the water itself does not purify a person or 'save them from their sins'. We receive forgiveness and life through faith in the Lord Jesus.


Hannah Chowdhry's baptism is creating a lot of excitement in the church as she becomes the youngest ever member of the congregation of the church over more then two centuries, to declare her faith openly by this rite. 

Hannah Chowdhry, said:  "I want to be baptised becasue I want to be a part of God's family and to be a daughter of Jesus.  

"I want to be spreads God's message of hope that can transform lives and hope that this will inspire others to be baptised,"

Hannah believes that the Gospel message is the same today as it was when Christ began his ministry.  She believes that the Christian faith does not have to prove its relevancy in modern society to her and bilions of Christians across the globe the truth is always relevant.  However by taking this decision to be baptised so young she sends out a clear message that God's simple message of hope is still shaping hearts and minds millienia after the gospel was brought to earth.

You can watch her give her testimony here:

The symbolic washing away of Hannah's old life

Mother Juliet Chowdhry read out a Bible verse in Urdu (High Road Baptist Church is an extremely diverse church)

The church was well attended as befitted the 216th anniversary

Hannah with her father and uncles as they celebrated her 'new birth'

Image of Hannah Chowdhry at an Asian and African Fusion Event held at Ilford High Road Baptist Church on 23rd September 2017 (click here)

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