On 7th November 1970 Waterford House Evangelical Free Church was inaugurated and an official membership roll established. Sunday School and youth group meetings had already started at the church in 1967, and soon after this, Sunday services had begun. These meetings were all held in the original Waterford House, a three-storey Dutch Barn style house on Rede Court Road, Strood, the services being held in the two downstairs rooms.
Membership had been increasing since the first services, and by 1972 the membership were able to call their first pastor, Daniel Webber, a young man from London who had studied at the European Missionary Fellowship School of Biblical Studies. Daniel accepted the call from the church and so he, his wife, Zurilia and daughter Anna moved into the upstairs flat of Waterford House.
The following years saw numbers continuing to increase, with the overflow room in frequent use. 1973 saw the commencement of the Women’s Meeting and Young People’s Fellowship, and soon the church was finding that the downstairs rooms of the house were unable to accommodate the Sunday congregation – an alternative venue was required. This was found in the local junior school – Bligh Way Junior School, where morning services were held while the next challenge was undertaken – the building of a new church building.
In the local town of Strood, the compulsory purchase and demolition of the Zoar Independent Chapel (established in 1785) entitled a reinstatement award to be used on a suitable replacement property and ministry. This money was awarded to Waterford House, and so work commenced in 1976 to construct a new building at the back of the garden of the old house. As the shell of the new building took shape, the old house was finally demolished, the front of the site to eventually become the carpark. By April 1978 the rear hall of the new building was complete, and Sunday services commenced in this part of the church. The first service held in the completed, 200 seater, main hall was in September 1978.
Membership continued to grow, and additional works of a Wednesday Children’s Club, Playgroup, Men’s Meeting and Holiday Bible Club were started. Support for missionaries and Christian works across Europe, Africa and Asia commenced at that time and continues today.
The year 1990 saw pastor Webber receiving a call to become mission director of the EMF and, with the church’s agreement, he took up this post, where he remained for the next 15 years. The Waterford House congregation called one of its elders Ken Huxtable to replace Daniel, and he remained in this post until retirement in 2004. After a couple of years, the church called Norman Hopkins from Bethersden to the post of pastor, preaching at his inaugural service in 2006. In 2014 Waterford House Evangelical Free Church became a registered charity.
Throughout its history, Waterford House has supported the pastor and the work of the church with a number of elders and deacons, and at present we have four elders and eight deacons.
The church has always focussed on the faithful preaching of God’s Word with application to show its relevance today. The aim is to strengthen, teach and encourage God’s people and to share the call of the Gospel to others by whatever appropriate means.