An ecumenical exchange

It's an 'answer to prayer for both congregations' as a Baptist and an Anglican church in Bristol swap buildings.

Horfield Baptist Church and B&A Church in Bristol have moved into each other’s buildings after discerning they were more suited to their respective missions and ministries.

Horfield Baptist Church had been looking for premises more suitable to its current needs without having to relocate away from the Gloucester Road where it was based for over a century.

Meanwhile, the nearby B&A Church has split its activities across two sites for several years and had been looking for somewhere it could host community activities and Sunday services under one roof.  

The two buildings are a couple of hundred metres apart, and throughout 2022 the churches discussed the possibility of a buildings swap. 

Both congregations approved the proposal, and following an evaluation process by a series of professionals and leaders from both the Diocese of Bristol and the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the exchange completed on 31 March.  

“This is an almost unprecedented move between denominations and an answer to prayer for both congregations,” said Rev Sarah Phillpot, Minister in charge. “It should also enable both churches to better serve the local community.” 

Sarah highlighted more of the background to the swap in a post on the church website. While the old suite of buildings are “beautiful” and the premises “extensive”, they were nevertheless “no longer suited to our mission to and ministry in our local community.”

“Instead of enabling our call to tell people about Jesus, this building has become a burden on our time, money and resources,” she wrote.  

Rev James Stevenson, Priest-in-Charge at B&A Church, echoed his fellow minister’s enthusiasm for the swap, “We are excited to have found a solution that will enable both churches to continue to be based in the heart of the community they serve and to thrive and grow in the long-term.”

A longer version of this story first appeared in the Baptist Times.