Jessie Carter-Orser wrote her memories of the beginning of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sutton in Ashfield for its 50th anniversary in 2006. We thought we would put them on the website as they include memories of the town that may interest other people.
The first meetings conducted by the Seventh-day Adventist church were in the Sutton Public Baths. Jessie reports that her mother Mary Hughes Carter and her friend Mrs Marsh attended these meetings regularly and enjoyed them.
In spite of the disapproval from her mother’s family members who thought she had gone off the deep end, Mary Carter was persuaded that the Seventh-day Adventist teachings were Biblical. She became an active church member until her death in 1965. Eventually as the years progressed, she was respected by her neighbours, business people in Sutton and particularly her extended family.
I was born on the 29th November 1924 at 7, Percy Street in Sutton in Ashfield and I remember my church family better than my own dad who was killed in the Bentinck Colliery on the 12 th September 1928 when I was three years old.
I remember mother telling me about Mr Fred Archer, a colporteur, and his family. He was imprisoned as a conscientious objector during World War 1. He was allowed to spend the Saturday Sabbath at my mother’s home.
I well remember having meetings in our home – which was now 10, Garside Avenue. Prayer meetings and young people’s meetings were also held in our home and other members’ homes. At that time we were just the Sutton in Ashfield SDA Company. Mother was treasurer for the “Sutton Company” and then the Sutton church for about 60 years. As a child I remember mother hiding the church monies in the coal house. She has to remember to remove the money before the coal was delivered.
My mother was a stickler for being punctual. She would set the clock 30 minutes ahead to make sure we were on time for church. Many times the carter family (my mother Mary, and my sisters Rosemary, Lilly Olive and her two children, Donald and Marian and I) were the only ones to begin church on time. Some of the church members that came to mind from that era are Auntie Mary Bonser, Hawksley, Marsh and Surridge, and her children Ronald and Doreen.
In 1919 Pastor George Hyde conducted an evangelistic effort and the Sutton SDA church moved to rented upstairs room at the Bainbridge Hall. It was here that the Sabbath services were held. As a result of this effort, several new members were baptized; among them were Mr and Mrs Clark and daughter Vera, much later Pauline was born; Mr and Mrs Cobb and their children, Connie, Florence, Iris and David; George and Annie Hardy from Huthwaite; Mr and Mrs Shaw and their children Albert and Iris; and Tom Stendall and his two daughters Edith and Margaret. Prayer meetings and young people’s meetings continued to be held in members’ homes. As a youngster I will never forget the smells from the kitchen that drifted into the room where we were worshipping. We all knew when lunch was being served when we heard the calls from the people working the dumb waiter.
In the early 1930’s the “Sutton SDA” company moved to a rented, small single roomed building on High Pavement. This building had previously been a fish and chip shop. The members worked hard to line and fit out the corrugated zinc building to make it presentable. Mrs Hawksley was a talented decorator and made this small building a place of reverence. The word “Reverence my sanctuary, I am the Lord,” are still engraved on my memory. As a young person I worshipped here with my family.
During this time new members joined us at our new church site: Mrs Armstrong and her two children, Sonny and Marie; Mrs Berrisford; Mrs Brown and her son Bill; Mr Samuel hardy; Mr Cyril Thompson and Mrs Wagstaff. Some of these were members meeting at Mansfield, and eventually the two companies combined.
Vividly I remember Mr Shaw, – an excellent musician, he played most of the hymns by ear. His piano skills enhanced the worship service. Mr Tom Stendall had an impressive memory. He could quote passages from Paradise Lost.
I talked with Tom’s daughter Margaret Stendall Whiting, now living in Lincoln, Nebraska. She is 85 years old. Margaret remembers worshipping in Bainbridge Hall but she has clearer recollections of meeting at the High Pavement location.
Mrs Berrisford and Mrs Wagstaff travelled from Alfreton by bus. If mother knew they were coming to church she would insist that I meet them at the bus. Then it was my duty to see them safely back to the bus. (Bill Brown married Doreen Surridge.) Mr Samuel Hardy rode a three wheeled bicycle to church. He enjoyed taking part in the service. One Sabbath he chose the opening hymn for Sabbath School; it was “Now the day is over.” As a teenager, I was embarrassed and fussed to my mother. She said, “Stop fussing – the old man likes that hymn and you should too!” (I liked the hymn but do you sing it at 10 in the morning?) He was a kind old man and loved to study his Bible.
My sister Lilly was killed on the Watford bypass on 19th July 1934 at the age of 16 years. She was living in Edgware with the wife of Pastor W.T. Bartlett, as a live-in companion, when the accident happened. My invalid sister, Rosemary, died in 1944 at the age of 21 years.
I wish I could say that Melvin and I were married in the High Pavement Church on the 4th June, 1945. But we were married at the Baptist Church, just down the street. Unfortunately our church was not large enough to hold the expected guests. The Baptist church was full. The news apparently had got around the town that a Sutton girl was marrying an American serviceman that did not smoke or drink. Such an American was an oddity during World War II. The story is told that the bank and many shops closed long enough for the employees to attend the wedding.
Sixty years ago our oldest son, John, was born in Chesterfield, was dedicated when he was two months old at the church located on High Pavement.
I will always have ties to the Sutton in Ashfield church – from early childhood, I was surrounded by special people who worshipped with us. Although mother was a widow, visiting ministers would come to our home to stay overnight, or over the week-end to enjoy mother’s delicious Sabbath dinner with us. While mother was preparing the meal, I would sit on Uncle Arthur Maxwell’s lap (Uncle Arthur was the author of Bedtime Stories) and he would tell us stories. (In the late 1940’s Uncle Arthur visited Melvin and me when we were living at pacific Union College, California. He remarked, “sometimes my face turns red when I think of all the young ladies that have sat on my lap.” Of course, they were little girls then.) Dr.W.G.C Murdoch, Pastor Madgwick, Dr. Edward E.White and his wife Marjorie, Bernard Kinman and his wife, John Cannon and his wife, Pastor W.T. Bartlett and his wife and so many others considered No.10 a place to relax.
During World War II, American servicemen also worshipped at our church. Merton Searle and Harold Krutz would leave camp at 5am and visit mother until time to return to camp. They often spent Sabbaths at our home. Harold was best man at our wedding.
After I left for the United States in 1946, my mother and Sister Olive continued as members of the Sutton in Ashfield Seventh-day Adventist Church. I saw my sister Olive for the last time in 1971, at that time Olive was responsible for the church flowers.
The history of the Sutton in Ashfield church is so closely woven into the fabric of whom my family was and of who I am, that it is hard for me to separate the two. So although I cannot be present to celebrate this special anniversary with you, you are in my thoughts and prayers.
Along with the Psalmist we say:
“I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the House of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1.
Melvin and Jessie Orser.