Forest City Bible Church and Lambeth Bible Church had their roots in Wortley Road Baptist Church (formed 1888) in London, Ontario’s Wortley Village. In 1957 the church was going through some difficult times, and two families left to start a new church in the south Village of Lambeth. The first meetings were Bible studies held in people’s homes. On Easter Sunday, April 16, 1958 the Lambeth Baptist Mission held its first Sunday evening service at 39 Main St. E., Lambeth, Ontario, with Pastor Ron Mills and 33 in attendance. Some of the folk from the Wortley Rd. Baptist Church were also coming out to those evening services. Sunday School commenced on October 5, 1958 and on February 8, 1959 the church hosted its first foreign missionary family, John & Helen Dekker, before they left for Papua New Guinea. This started our long history of support for foreign missionaries.
On May 20, 1960, Lambeth Baptist Mission was officially received into the Associate Gospel Churches of Canada (AGC) and changed its name to Lambeth Bible Church (The AGC was chartered as a denomination on May 18, 1925 and in 1960 there were about 80 churches in Canada with a membership of about 5,000). In May 1962 property was purchased on Campbell Street in Lambeth for a new church home and then years later on Howard Ave.
In 1961, Wortley Road Baptist Church made a decision to sell the church building in Wortley Village and rebuild at the foot of Wortley Rd. on Commissioners Rd. E (changing the name of the church to Wortley Baptist Church). A number of the congregation felt there was still a need for a Gospel Church in Wortley Village. A total of 69 members met and voted to stay and purchase the property. Then a decision was made to also join with the AGC and name the new church group Wortley Road Bible Church.
In August 1962, Dr. M. P. Estabrooks, with wife Ruth and their four sons, came from Brant St. Bible Church in Burlington to be the first pastor. After five years, Dr. Estabrooks moved west to pastor in Dauphin MB. During those early years, we were grateful to London Bible Institute (later renamed London College of Bible and Missions until 1968) for their cooperation in sending students to help in the ministry both in Lambeth and Wortley Village.
Rev. Bill Milner from the Maritimes then pastored for a short time at Wortley Rd. Bible Church, but felt his gifting was in gospel music and left the pulpit. Pastor Streight, with his wife Alice and their four sons, came to the church for the next eight years. By this time, church attendance was declining with only a few young families and the AGC felt we should plant a new church in a new area.
Rev. John Dempster (a retired pastor) filled the pulpit during this time while we consulted with the city regarding new growth. The city confirmed that London north would be a high growth area. The Wortley Rd. Bible Church building was sold (to become a condo building) and services were moved to Masonville Public School. As of October 22, 1978, our new name, Forest City Bible Church (FCBC), was registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as a tax receipting charity.
At this point in the late 1970s, Rev. Verne Trafford with his wife, Diane and their three children, joined with us to lead the new ministry. While seeking land to build a new church, Pastor Benson and a board member from Forest City Baptist Church (located at 1889 Wonderland Rd. N.) approached Pastor Trafford regarding amalgamation as they were considering closure. The Forest City Bible Church congregation saw this as a real answer to prayer and accepted the offer. In 1982, the two churches merged and now together formally became Forest City Bible Church and incorporated under this name on August 16th with the Province of Ontario. Pastor Trafford stayed for five years.
After a one-year interim pastorate under Pastor Schmidt, Pastor Bob Drumm ministered at FCBC for two years. In 1988, Pastor Byron Hand was called to be the Senior Pastor, after completing a student internship at the church. Pastor Byron was here ten years and during that time he married Jackie and they were blessed with a daughter, Christina. In 1998 Pastor Byron received a call to a church in Moline, Illinois. During the time the church was without a pastor, Rev Stan Sadler and his wife, Barbara, were with us for ten months as Interim Pastor.
In July 1999, Pastor John Thompson, with his wife Doris and their three daughters and one son, accepted the call to Forest City Bible Church. In 2001, Pastor John took on the added responsibility of Lambeth Bible Church and filled the pulpit and responsibilities for both churches, with his usual openness and heart for the people. Since Lambeth Bible Church was getting smaller all the time, the decision was made by the congregation to join with Forest City Bible Church in north London. In December 2001, they officially became one family.
By 2004 our church was in need of more space. The AWANA Club that began in 1983 on Wednesday nights was growing to full capacity and the portables used for Sunday School were in need of repair. The decision to expand was made and volunteers came forward to help. Money was raised and the new addition was built to the Glory of God!
Pastor John Thompson retired at the end of April 2021, just short of 22 years of faithful service, and a Search Committee is actively seeking God’s direction for a new Pastor. In April 2022, we will celebrate our 64th Anniversary, God willing, with a new pastor.
As we look back over these many years, through the good times and difficult times, we can still say “The Lord has done great things for us, whereof we are glad.” Psalm 126:3.