With Oakhall growing in number over the years, the need for a new premises was clear. For our Morning Services over 25 years Oakhall used the facilities at de Stafford School.
Oakhall has always been a Church family keen on serving and being a part of our local community but has also been passionate about serving in areas right across the world.
Over the 125 years, Oakhall has supported worldwide mission projects in Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, France, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Bolivia, Burundi, Peru, Haiti, Pakistan and Malaysia. Aid has also been taken to Poland, Latvia, Ukraine and Yugoslavia.
During the Yugoslav Civil War (in the 1990's), many from the church perpared thousands of boxes of vital supplies. Teams travelled with Oak Hall coaches to distribute the aid to the refugees.
Oakhall Church has always enjoyed being in café environments and in 1984, Oakhall renovated an old coffee shop in Caterham High Street. It was called the Acorn Coffee Shop and became an ideal meeting place that was popular with lots in the community.
By 1970, Oakhall Church had continued to grow with 140 members of the Youth Group alone. There was a need for more space and the Victorian building that stood on Francis Road was rebuilt by the Church members themselves.
Just as Mr Pickard had written hymns especially for the opening of the original building, so Margaret Philipps wrote a hymn specially for the occasions:
Thy love hath brought us to this day
Oh Father, hear our prayer
That Thou wilt take our new built home
And make thy dwelling there.
Unless Thy Voice alone is heard
Unless Thy way made plain
The years of toil have fruitless been
The labour all in vain.
Give us a love for all mankind
Whatever tongue or race
May all who seek Thee truly find
Thy glory in this place.
Take this Thy house, make it Thine own
Guide Thou our future days
And great will be our blessing Lord
And Thine shall be the praise.
The Oak Hall Youth Group had the ambition of going away. They collected old newspapers around the streets of Caterham. These were sold as waste and used to buy an Old London Ambulance. Later in the year they travelled across to Europe in the old Ambulance for what would be the first of many expeditions to come!
125 years in Caterham
The story of Oakhall Church is an exciting one! The Church started as a mission hall recognising Jesus Christ as Lord and the Bible as His instructions for life. Through these 125 years, the message of Jesus has been faithfully shared, enriching and transforming many lives.
At a cost of £32 and 10 shillings, a piece of land in Francis Road (then known as Elizabeth Road) was purchased for the building of Oakhall Church on 12th May 1894.
The Caterham Free Press reported on the opening of the new building saying:
'There was a very full meeting, followed by a substantial tea, and a very good and hearty feeling characterised the proceedings'
Mr E E Pickard, who spoke at Oakhall Church at the start, wrote a moving letter to Mr Best saying:
'My first tears have been shed in the new hall today. I sat meditating upon one of the texts, and praying to God to hallow the spot; when the text came "What hath God wrought".
My heart went out in silent praise and worship too God. With much love from my wife and self to you both.
Your faithfully in Christ,
With the outbreak of the First World War, Caterham was host to huge numbers of soldiers at the Guards Barracks. Massive overcrowding in tough conditions resulted in Oak Hall being opened as a writing room for the young recruits. Tea was served and the Christian message shared.
For many it was the last opportunity to hear the message of life in Jesus Christ before they went to face death on the battle-fields of France and Belgium.
Towards the end of the First World War, the hall was packed each Sunday night with soldiers who had come to listen to the service. On one occasion, Mr Luff-Smith was preaching in his quiet way when he suddenly raised his voice with a challenge, "Which company do you belong to?". A sleepy Scot jumped to attention in the middle of the hall and called out "K Company, Scots Guards, Sir"
In between the World wars, Oakhall Church continued to grow and in 1939, the Second World War began. The 1940's brought tough times with most men being called up for military service. Caterham was prime target for the Luftwaffe and later, the V1 doodlebugs.
Although not hit directly hit by bombs, the roof of the building in Francis Road was lifted by the blasts. On 16th June 1944, a V1 bomb destroyed Cook's Printing Factory on Heath Road (the site that would become the site of the current Oakhall Church building).