Today, 2 December 2020 is the end of an era in the life of Belle Vue Baptist Church.
The Southend Mission Support Workshop finished refurbishing its final tools at the end of November 2020 and the Workshop will be vacated today.
Just under 40 years ago, the Workshop began its life at Belle Vue Baptist Church. An initiative of a deacon in the church, Jack Norwood, it was part of the beginnings of Tools With a Mission (TWAM), which developed out of Operation Agri, the Baptist Men’s Movement and BMS. TWAM is a charity that refurbishes second hand tools for mission work. From its small beginnings, TWAM is now a huge operation.
The Southend workshop began life in what had been a small room for Bible Class meetings, before in the late 1980s moving to a larger room in Friendship House, also part of the church’s premises. In the early years it was at the centre of the TWAM operation.
The workshop has been centre of activity, with thousands and thousands of tools — chisels, planes, drill bits, etc., being cleaned and refurbished and packed into tool kits. A team of men, usually retired, could be found hard at work. For the last fifteen years it has been led by John Bailey and a few others supporting him.
The history of Belle Vue Baptist Church has been one that has helped begin new missional ventures and its involvement with TWAM through the workshop has been one of its longest running ones.
As a church BVBC are grateful to have been part of this story and we’re proud of all those who give their time and skill — including Jack Norwood, Allan Cox, Roy Hornsby, John Ward, Florrie Lovell, Len Sidaway — and most recently, John Bailey, David Sims, John Wootton, Neville Beale.
It’s been a wonderful source of fellowship, mission and practical action that has had a massive impact around the world.
(The early history of TWAM can be found in ‘Inasmuch …’: The Story of Tools With a Mission by Allan Cox, 2004)