[Source: Baptist Times Published: Thursday, 24 April, 1980]
Story by Lewis Misselbrook
“I always believed the Acts of the Apostles was true but I never saw it become a reality until I came to Bugbrooke”.
This was said bv David Hawker, an Oxford graduate who is now a member m the Jesus Fellowship Church centred in the Bugbrooke Baptist Chapel.
Bugbrooke is a village five miles out of Northampton. In 1969 Noel Stanton, the lay pastor, entered into a classic charismatic experience of “baptism in the Holy Spirit” and there began a period of transformation in the life of the church.
The membership grew rapidly and drug addicts, alcoholics and drop outs found acceptance and new life in Christ in a way that no ordinary Baptist church could parallel.
The fellowship and the commitment are deep: Intellectuals and people of humble abilities live happily together. Six doctors are in membership and many teachers.
The stated aim of the church is to proclaim and practise New Testament Christianity. Its theological position has changed over the years and it now claims to be “both charismatic and Reformed “.
From 50 members it has grown to over 500 Christian believers. From the beginning the church has remained in membership with the Baptist Union.
While the church rejoiced in revival it could not be content to stay still. “We began to recognise”, they say, “that God was calling us to go further and deeper. The Spirit began to open our eyes to the reality of the life-style of the primitive (Jerusalem) church where all who believed were together and had all things in common.”
Since 1973 they have bought 20 or so large houses within a fifty-mile area in which many members (averaging about 20-25 per house) live together in community -in fact a community of communities.
The houses include families and single people, men and women, young and old and people from very differing backgrounds.
This social mix sets itself under Christ to work through the tensions and the nitty-gritty of relationship to learn to love one another and grow to be of one heart and mind.
People and families have their own rooms but live, eat, play and worship together and family life seems rather to prosper than be weakened by the extended relationships.
In addition to the large houses, there are, in the village of Bugbrooke, a number of smaller houses occupied either by single families or by extended families in membership.
So a variety of different types of community living are practiced but all keeping to the basic of principle of holding all things in common.
A second community, born of Bugbrooke, sprang into being in Warwickshire last year. This has about 60 members. Another is about to begin in Leicestershire.