In the near 200 year history of the chapel, there have only been two Pastors.
Mr John Shaw
Mr John Shaw was one of the founder members of the cause at Nateby and as we see in our History section, he held services in his home, was instrumental in purchasing the land for the chapel and ministered to the congregation when the original chapel was opened in August 1839 but in December 1839 he was taken ill and went to be with the Lord.
We are told of John Shaw’s ministry, “though plain, it was at times solemn, pointed, and searching, and at others shrewd and confounding.”
On one occasion a number of singers in a neighbouring township decided to go one Lord’s Day to hear John preach and demonstrate their singing prowess. After John had given out the first hymn but before giving out the first two lines for singing, he looked steadfastly at the visiting singers and said, “Friends, I wish it to be clearly understood that no person has any right to sing this solemn hymn but those whom the Holy Ghost has quickened, and written God’s law upon their hearts.” The singers were abashed and thwarted in their aim.
Such was the impact of John Shaw’s ministry that Arminian churches raged furiously against him calling him an Antinomian and took great offence to the ordinance of baptism. John Shaw invited people to attend an address on the subject of baptism which took place in a barn which was literally packed to the rafters and contained many of his critics. Mr Shaw was able to set out scriptural truths.
It seems in his earlier life, John Shaw was himself an advocate of Arminianism until he read a work by William Gadsby entitled “Gawthorn Brought to the Test” and was brought to the truths of sovereign grace.
One of the early members at Nateby wrote of John Shaw, “We appointed him Pastor over us and the Lord was with him and blessed him, and honoured him as a ram’s horn trumpet in His hand to gather in and build up some of his elect family. His doctrine ‘dropped as the rain, his speech distilled as the dew’. He often stood behind the old chest (before the chapel as built) which he had for his pulpit, with his soul filled with the glory of God’s sovereign salvation, his eyes sparkling, and his arms stretched out at full length, and with heavenly glee he would exclaim, ‘Saved! Saved! the Church of God is saved with a heavenly salvation’.”
He suffered for many years with the disease which ended his life. He felt that the pain he endured was chastening for his sins. As he approached the swellings of Jordan, he often commented that he wished for a comfortable place for his brethren to meet and this of course was granted.
The last time he preached, he seemed to feel that his departure was at hand and preached in the morning from Mat 26 v13 and in the afternoon from John 21 v17. During one of these sermons, he stated, “I thought I would preach the Gospel today, lest I should never preach it again.”
The last time the brethren visited him after he was confined to his home, he told them,” I am going little before you, and you will lose a friend and a well-wisher, but you have a comfortable place to meet in, and you may consider yourselves blessed of the Lord.”
Mr George Rose 1873-1965
In his remarkable book, “Remembered Mercies Recorded,” Mr George Rose who took the pastorate in 1941, recounts many of the favours of the Lord and the many trials and afflictions he suffered as he traces out his path of pilgrimage.
Born and brought up in Gorsty Hill near Birmingham, George Rose had a difficult upbringing with an alcoholic father but a Godly mother. At the age of four, he had a terrifying experience when he was nearly trampled by a herd of cows. This shock he believed was God’s mercy as it left him with a nervous affliction which left him unable to socialise easily and thus prevented him from falling into sin with ungodly acquaintances.
Working in a foundry from a young age, he recalls the many injuries and accidents that occurred. On one occasion, hot metal got into his eye. On another he was severely scolded by molten metal. On yet another he suffered a severe bout of peritonitis and was 25 days without food. (Another apparently hitherto, healthy man with the same condition was persuaded to take a morsel and was dead within a week). But the Lord spared George Rose.
Baptism, Marriage and The Ministry
George Rose was married in 1895 to Mary Ann Worton (known as Polly). Mrs Rose was much afflicted suffering prolonged periods of physical and mental illness. The words “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” were powerfully impressed on her mind. They were married for 52 years before Mrs Rose was called home in July 1947. In the last week of her life, the clouds were lifted and she was granted a close experience of God. She is buried in the grounds of Kirkland Chapel.
In his early working and family life, the rigours of working in a foundry proving difficult, Mr Rose found new employment with the Birmingham Corporation at Harborne (a suburb on the west of Birmingham). As there was no strict Baptist cause nearby, he attended St John’s church under the “plain, experimental and searching” ministry of Thomas Davis who had a trying pathway as he was separated in life and practice from every other Church of England minister in Birmingham.
It was around this time that Mr Rose began to be encouraged to pray at public meetings and indeed his first public address was to the congregation at Harborne though he felt himself unworthy of the task due t his lack of formal education. Thomas Davis, who was absent on this occasion, had written to him to ask him to address the meeting and there being no other alternative, Mr Rose read from John 10, leant on the Lord and was enabled to speak without fear of man.
Due to a conflict with Birmingham Corporation over working on a Lord’s Day, Mr Rose was soon removed from Harborne back to the foundry at Old Hill. Though he first came under conviction of sin in 1890 when the visiting preacher was Mr Edwin Greenwood of Halifax, it was not until a few years later after many doubts and fears that he was compelled to come forward for baptism encouraged by the words, “Fear not, thou worm Jacob, I will help thee”. Mr Clack of Wantage presided at the baptismal service when ten persons in total were added to the church at Old Hill.
It was not long before Mr Rose began to be exercised about the ministry when these words were made powerful to him, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints is this grace given, that I should preach mong the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” In answer to pray, more revelation was given in the words in Matthew 21 v1-11 but struggles and fears persisted for a long time until finally the words from Isaiah 33 v18-21 were made plain.
At this moment however Mr Rose tried to defy his calling and took another seemingly secure position at a school in Harborne. It quickly proved to be fruitless as did another employment in a metalwork. In providence, Mr Rose returned to work in a foundry at Gorsty Hill where he sat under the ministry at Old Hill and came to the attention of Mr Walter Brooke then Pastor of Windsor Road Strict Baptist Chapel, Cardiff who used to supply at Old Hill and invited Mr Rose to preach at Cardiff. At the same time, Mr Rose received an invitation to preach at the Coppice and the words received from Matthew 21 v1-11 were being fulfilled. The way was made clear as the church formally approved Mr Rose’s call to the ministry but other matters resolved themselves; Mr Rose’s sister came to live next door to help care for Mrs Rose and the young family and his employer gave Mr Rose leave to accept preaching engagements some of which required his absence for up to three weeks.
The Call to Cranbrook
The first call to preach at Cranbrook came in 1906 and Mr Rose was very exercised as Cranbrook was not a strict Baptist cause and the ordinances had never been observed. Mr Rose felt a gracious liberty in Preaching at Cranbrook. This was the beginning of a work of grace that was to receive fulfilment when Mr Rose was invited as resident minister from January 1908. Mr Rose also received an invitation from Wolverhampton and viewed naturally, Wolverhampton had much to commend it being an established strict baptist cause and a Black Country congregation that Mr Rose was familiar with. Regarding Cranbrook, Mr Rose was given the words, “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries”. In May 1908, Mr Rose received a unanimous call to the Pastorate.
By 1909, God had moved when a number of souls came forward for membership and a church was formed on 14 October by Mr J. Kemp of Biddenden. As an established Pastor, doors were opened to Mr Rose to supply other churches in Kent and Sussex and this he did cycling up to 6,000 miles per year in the process.
Severe Trials and Afflictions
Not long after the all to Cranbrook, Mrs Rose was suffering form severe pain and had to have surgery at Guy’s Hospital in London. Whilst she was recovering, George Rose had a serious accident when cycling to visit his wife at Cobham. The concussion had a significant impact on his brain such that he was unable to handle his own correspondence for another 19 years. Indeed the medical staff did not expect him to survive. Providentially, Mr Rose was able to witness to the staff and patients whilst in hospital. After a month he began to recover. To set this in chronological context, this period coincided with the coronation of King George V on 22 June 1911.
His wife’s on-going illness and the lack of secular employment put a strain on the family finances but they were mercifully provided for in all circumstances as daily manna from heaven.
The Call to Tamworth Road, Croydon
After 12 years at Cranbrook, Mr Rose began to feel a withholding of the Holy Spirit which manifested itself with a constraint in preaching at Cranbrook. Some noticed that Mr Rose was able to preach with much greater liberty at other causes. Mr Rose pleaded with God that if it might be His will that he could continue the work at Cranbrook for the rest of his life but ultimately bowed to His will when it became clear he was being removed and the call came from the church at Tamworth Road, Croydon.
As well as the parting being evidently painful. Croydon was in a low state both in terms of the congregation and the church building. Mr Rose recognised that it would take many years to build up and had begged that he might be spared such responsibility being personally in a poor state of health and his wife much afflicted.
Despite his natural reluctance, with respect to the work at Croydon, Mr Rose was given the words, “Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages.” The work at Croydon flourished with many additions to the church and the hand of providence in supplying the material needs of the building.
Once again Mr Rose was to suffer a serious road traffic accident whilst travelling on a new motorbike to preach at the Rotherfield Thanksgiving Services in 1930. He was taken to Crowborough Cottage Hospital where staff were amazed at his relative well-being. Mr Rose was granted peace of mind during his hospital stay and inevitably used the experience to witness to fellow patients. The doctor treating his case commented “They tell me you are a minister and I cannot understand how you can preach, because I can see you have no power of application” (owing to his previous cycling accident in 1911). But in fact Mr Rose stated that this second accident removed the constant pain he had suffered since 1911 and restored his mental acuity enabling him to read and write again proving that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.”
Nevertheless, the second accident did seem to exacerbate the rheumatoid arthritis Mr Rose had been suffering to such an extent that he was advised by doctors that his was a hopeless case and he would be left in state of paralysis. This led to much darkness of mind.
Once again the Lord was to undertake for Mr Rose in the time of his affliction. A friend asked him if he knew Professor Wakeley at King’s College Hospital as Mr Rose had been referred there by this doctor. Through this contact Mr Rose was able to secure a consultation and Professor Wakeley confirmed that his was a very bad case but advised that if he maintained strict diet and if the Lord will bless the means, there would be some improvement in three months. Mr Rose began to improve gradually and just over a year later felt quite cured.
With much exercise of mind, Mr Rose felt that the words given to him at the outset of his pastorate at Croydon had been remarkably fulfilled “Take this child away, and nurse it for me” and the following words had been applied, “I have finished the work Thou gavest me to do.” The cause had indeed prospered. Nevertheless Mr Rose felt that he was being called on a trying and strange path yet recognised that he was the Lord’s servant and must do according to His will. Mr Rose did not speak to anyone about these exercises for a long time.
On the second Lord’s Day in September 1938, Mr Rose was engaged to preach at Kirkland Chapel, Nateby near Garstang after an absence of some years and was overwhelmed with the thought that it might be the Lord’s will to take him there as pastor. Naturally speaking, Mr Rose had little in common with a northerly, rural community but prayed that if it be His will that he would lay the matter upon the people at Kirkland.
The Call to Kirkland Chapel, Nateby
Within weeks Mr Rose received a letter from William Kelsall, the senior deacon, asking whether he was settled in the pastorate at Croydon whilst not wishing to cause injustice to the work at Croydon but feeling that the church at Kirkland had been divinely led.
It was not until October 1939 that Mr Rose after much prayer and exercise raised the matter with the members of Tamworth Road and whilst they were grieved they listened graciously to Mr Rose’s leadings. The matter was left with the Lord for a good while until the words, “I have set before thee an open door” were given to Mr Rose together with, “And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee.” The burden of the exercises put a strain on Mr Rose’s health and he had to give up many engagements as a result. By January 1940 the words of John 12 v24-26 were powerfully applied and Mr Rose felt that it was confirmed that as Jesus gave Himself up entirely to do the Father’s will then so should he and Mr Rose’s resignation from the pastorate at Croydon was announced to the congregation on Lord’s Day 14 April 1940. The senior deacon spoke his thanks to God for the testimony Mr Rose had borne and for bringing him to them as pastor and the meeting concluded with hymn 512 from Gadsby’s and prayer. Mr Rose now felt able to accept the pastorate at Kirkland from January 1941.
The Kirkland Pastorate 1941-1952
Mr Rose’s autobiography was completed in 1945 just after his golden wedding anniversary which was only a few years after the start of his ministry at Kirkland. We are very grateful to Mr G. Chewter who added a continuation to “Remembered Mercies Recorded” which covers some of the Kirkland pastorate.
The removal to the North was a complete change for Mr Rose and not unwelcome given the horrors of the Blitz in wartime London which had caused severe nervous strain for Mrs Rose. With fewer local opportunities for itinerant preaching, Mr Rose became established in the community and enjoyed visiting his members and congregation in their own homes. To this day, these visits are remembered fondly. Mr Rose would pray with families and children, encouraging some to learn passages of scripture. Mr Rose was renowned for being able to turn any conversation to spiritual matters even with those who professed no belief. Despite now being in his 70’s, Mr Rose still managed to labour at harvest time and carry out many practical tasks at the homes of his congregation.
One favourite story concerns his remarks to one of the local farmers who was complaining about a spell of particularly foul weather. Mr Rose rebuked him for criticising the Lord’s creation.
Whilst it is thought that Mr Rose may have been discouraged that more believers did not come forward for membership at Kirkland (it is believed there were only two during his pastorate), the work was well respected as faithful and godly. Mr Rose was mindful of the texts, “Except the Lord build the house. they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Psa 127 v1) and “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not” (Gal 6 v9).
Mr Rose was not doubt greatly encouraged by the baptism of his member Mr John Pearson and the sending forth into the ministry of Mr John Hesketh but faced a trial in 1947 only two years after the golden wedding anniversary when his beloved first wife “Polly” was called home after many years of affliction and experienced a peaceful end.
Approaching 80 years and having remarried in 1948, Mr Rose moved back to the South in 1952 as the responsibility of pastoral ministry was felt to be too great for him. Retirement however was out of the question as Mr Rose continued his preaching ministry until 25 December 1963, returning form time to time to preach at Kirkland.
Mr Rose was called home on 5 March 1965, a faithful minister of the Lord.