In the heart of London's West End there stands a permanent memorial to God and to the generosity of Seventh-day Adventists throughout the world. Their financial interest in evangelism channeled through the General Conference, made it possible for a famous downtown cinema to be converted into the New Gallery Evangelistic Centre. Thus for the past twelve years the Centre has stood as a well-appointed auditorium where the thronging millions of London may enter and learn of Christ. To many, this is the first introduction to the One who can mean so much to their future life. For others, it is a reunion with Him whom they once knew and may have lost along the way.
George Vandeman officially opened the New Gallery Centre on Friday, October 23, 1953. The press, the secretary of the Westminster Chamber of Commerce, and other city representatives were present to extend their best wishes for its successful future.
Two days later on Sunday, October 25, the first evangelistic services were held. The subject "Why God Will Not Permit World Destruction by the Hydrogen Bomb," was presented at four consecutive services by Pastor Vandeman. The New Gallery choir under Robert Link—the tenor soloist—and the British King's Heralds' quartet cared for all the music for these meetings. Press comments were numerous. One of London's papers under the headline, "Hymns Now on Cinema Wurlitzer," gave a colorful, yet fair comment on the entire evangelistic program.
Since these glorious beginning days many outstanding evangelists have uplifted Christ before the people. The rostrum has been favored with such men as E. J. Folkenberg, H. M. S. Richards, R. A. Anderson, A. G. Ratcliffe, R. M. Kranz, K. Lacey, D. J. Handysides, and A. C. Fearing, who has just concluded the 1964-1965 greater London evangelistic campaign. All these men have received the blessing of God in their public evangelism programs at the Centre.
In the summer of last year V. W. Schoen from the General Conference Home Missionary Department conducted a very successful lay instructors' training school. One of the objectives of the training school was to prepare the members to be soul winners during the evangelistic campaign beginning in September. During the two weeks of concentrated training inspirational lectures were presented by Pastors Dorland, Handysides, Pearce, Vine, and Schoen. Fifty-three graduated. These in turn conducted similar courses in their own churches, resulting in 227 more trained graduates. Their missionary endeavors added greatly to the success of the evangelistic meetings.
Many interior and exterior renovations were undertaken to ensure the maximum comfort for those who would attend the New Gallery Centre. Posters and advertising boards were all prepared and used as much as possible. Direct mail, however, was the principal mode of advertising. Members of the Central London church combined with the evangelistic team in the preparation and distribution of thousands of envelopes containing letters of welcome and advertising brochures. Small inserts were placed in several newspapers. Most of the papers in central London are national and not city papers. This rather unique fact makes the expense involved for advertising evangelistic meetings prohibitive over long periods. However, for several weeks advertisements occupied a few column inches in the national papers, and inserts were also made in several of the suburban papers where midweek meetings were being held. Diligent work was accompanied by fervent prayer, and the result God had in His control.
More than seventeen hundred people listened attentively to the dynamic inspirational preaching of Andrew Fearing as he presented a message of comfort, assurance, and hope during two meetings held on September 27, 1964. As a prelude to the address Kathleen Joyce inspired the audience with two beautiful contralto solos. The New Gallery choir of seventy, conducted by the writer, sang several stirring choral pieces.
Each Sunday thereafter, to the close of March this year, Andrew Fearing conducted two identical evangelistic services on Sunday evenings. Hundreds have returned each week, thirsting for more truths —searching for a clearer glimpse of their Saviour. They have not been disappointed.
Aside from these services, Pastor Fearing, the writer, and local ministers associated with him, conducted midweek meetings on four consecutive nights in four locations in the suburban areas of London. These meetings were also blessed with a regular attendance. On Sabbath morning F. J. Wilmshurst, pastor of the Central London church, which meets in the New Gallery, opened his eleven o'clock service to Andrew Fearing for special evangelistic services.
Throughout the entire series Andrew Fearing, assisted by Veronica Warren, held special Sabbath morning baptismal classes. To the time of writing eighty-four souls have been influenced to baptism by the Holy Spirit, many of these through the combined efforts of the evangelistic staff.
This evangelistic center was designed to feed its converts into the churches already established in the London area. To some degree over the years this objective has not always been accomplished. However, during this past season the original and ideal plan was put into full operation. Five churches, besides the New Gallery Central London church, have received members into their family who were baptized at the Centre. The ministers of the surrounding churches were invited to perform the baptismal ceremonies. (Pastor Fearing baptized no one throughout the entire series of meetings.)
Supporting the evangelist has been a team made up of the following ministers: A. R. Crouch, Peter Dible, D. Markham,F. J. Wilmshurst, C. Martin, John Shaw, Mark Leeds, and G. S. Crutchfield. Five were only part-time members, being themselves pastors of churches in the London area. There were four Bible instructors on the evangelistic team: Mrs. D. Clarke, Miss A. Metcalfe, Miss D. Nunn, and Miss V. M. Warren. Many hours of faithful visitation were given by these associates. Other ministers gave various lengths of time as observers. Their inspiration and association was appreciated.
Dr. Bernard Richardson made a large contribution to the health program of the evangelistic meetings. Each Sunday evening Pastor Fearing interviewed the doctor in a popular ten-minute health quiz—discussing both general and specific points of health of interest to all. Gratitude must also be expressed to R. R. Mudford, business manager, who cared so ably for the financial burdens of the campaign, and to all those whose names seldom appear in print, the lighting technicians, caretakers, and cleaners. Without the contribution of these people the evangelistic program would suffer much.
Thus another chapter in the evangelistic history of the New Gallery draws to a close. Later this year the page will be turned again and another chapter will begin, focusing on the work and ministry of one of Australia's leading evangelists, Pastor J. H. Coltheart, as he begins the 1965-1966 series.
The abundant facilities that the London New Gallery Centre offers are utilized for many other meetings of public service. Three successful antismoking clinics have been operated, the first of which was under the direction of Pastor B. F. Kinman and Dr. B. Richardson. The last two were conducted by Pastor Jack Mahon and Dr. S. Guest. A clinic for alcoholics meets in the Centre on Thursday evening, and two major welfare societies with their willing workers channel out clothing and foodstuffs to many parts of the world.
The London Society for the Blind uses the Centre once a week for their gatherings. Their patron, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother, were present at their centenary celebrations held in the auditorium during the spring of last year. The Council for Education and World Citizenship hold annual meetings in the auditorium. These programs are designed for sixth-form students of schools throughout London. The National Blood Transfusion Service are invited to use the basement facilities monthly.
More than one hundred enthusiastic men and women attended a very interesting and valuable cooking school conducted by Mrs. M. Leeds with associates, Mrs. E. Tolman, Mrs. D. Richards, and Miss M. Hutt. They unanimously requested that more such projects as this be undertaken in the future.
Daily at the Christmas and Easter seasons, special films are screened in the auditorium. Over the past six months daily midday organ music has been played on the giant Wurlitzer organ. The New Gallery choir presented special concerts for blind institutions and the United Nations Children's Organization. All these foster good public relations and help greatly in destroying barriers of prejudice.
On the first Saturday evening in each month Pastor G. S. Crutchfield, the youth director, guides the "Best Saturday Night in Town"—a variety program designed for Christian youth.
This has been but a brief panoramic view of the continuous programs in the New Gallery Centre. Much careful planning, organization, and behind-the-scenes preparation are essential to the smooth running of such an institution. This Centre, embedded in the midst of a world of professional productions, seeks only to present the best of religious programs, believing that only the best is good enough. With this objective the Lord will surely prosper in the future as He has blessed in the past. The good that this Centre does is immeasurable, and its blessings will be fully realized only in the eternal home of tomorrow.