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Grace blows out 374 candles!

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One of the longest serving members of one of the country’s oldest Baptist church helped it celebrate a very special birthday.

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Grace Sparks is 90 and the oldest member of Abbey Baptist Church in Reading’s town centre. She blew out the candles at a special birthday tea held at the church on Sunday, July 27.

The church is 374 years old and has planted most of the Baptist churches within the Reading area.

Grace was joined for the birthday party by the Revd David Kerrigan, general director of BMS World Mission, and the Revd Paul Burnish, current minister of the church.

Special guests from Baptist churches around the Reading area came along for the tea, including visitors from Anderson and Sindlesham Baptist churches.

Dr Kerrigan was the guest speaker at Abbey’s morning and evening services.

The Revd Paul Burnish said: “Grace has been a member of 22.17% of the time that Abbey has been in existence.”

The church, in Abbey Square, is situated in the shadow of The Blade and behind Reading’s Central Library. It was founded in 1640, at a time when being anything other than an Anglican was dangerous – some contemporary churches had ejector seats built into the pulpit, so preachers could escape if the authorities came.

Next year, the church will celebrate its 375th anniversary.

For more on the church and its history, log on to its website.

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