TAUNTON Baptist Church in Silver Street is now 200-years-old.

The occasion was marked by a special service when over 200 people, including the Mayor and Mayoress, were welcomed by Minister the Rev Phil Marsden.

A number of former ministers and members had returned to the town for the occasion and the preacher was the Rev Jonathan Edwards, former General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain.

During the service several members took part in prayer and in sharing their personal stories, and a special song had been written by Andrew Wallace. Children were included in the celebrations too. Afterwards a large number had lunch together at the church.

The previous evening a celebration meal was enjoyed at the Taunton and Pickeridge Golf Club when members and guests shared stories and memories.

Former Ministers Gordon Glover, Stuart Andrew and Edwin Penman congratulated the church on its milestone, and encouraged it to go forward strongly.

The church, with its congregation of all ages, provides a wide range of activities from children’s and youth groups to a weekly women’s afternoon meeting.

Many new members have joined during the past year and visitors are always welcome.

On Sunday afternoon local Christian leaders the Rev Rod Corke and Matthew Jeanes joined with the church for a discussion on ‘Looking to the future’.

All felt that challenges lay ahead, but agreed that churches had a mission to serve God in their communities.

They encouraged each Christian to seek to grow closer to God and to take the opportunities in life to serve God.

The Mayor of Taunton Deane, who with the Mayoress attended all the weekend’s events, encouraged the church to be more outgoing in the community.

He was pleased that the church strongly supported Taunton Street Pastors, the Town Chaplaincy and the Taunton Foodbank.

David Corry, one of the church leaders, said: “The weekend was very successful and hit the right balance between being grateful for the past and preparing to go into the future in a changing world.

"We look forward to the next phase of the church’s life and opportunity.”