The Pentecostal movement began in Britain in 1907, originally in the Sunderland area. Men and women travelled across land and sea to attend the special conventions, held by Alexander Boddy and T.B. Barratt and others, which were marked by people receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in other tongues (Acts 2:4). By 1913, some of those present were from the city of Cambridge (see image above).
By the late 1920s, a Cambridge Pentecostal group had begun meeting in a small wooden building on Newmarket Road. The first minister was Cecil Frederick Smith and he led Hebron Pentecostal Church for over three decades. Those early years knew much blessing and, although small in number, it was not unknown for those who spoke in tongues to speak in recognisable earthly languages. Many of the prominent leaders in this new movement, men like Donald Gee and John Carter, visited and spoke at Cambridge as they believed it to be a strategic place for the Gospel. The Pentecostal experience and testimony in Cambridge, which is now widespread among the churches of the city, owes much to the faithful work of Pastor Smith (left). He never retired and died while serving in the ministry.
This is an advert for the church's Easter Convention from 1937, printed in The Cambridge Evening News. This building in Newmarket Road no longer exists but was close to the new site of the Tesco Superstore and the building where City Church (New Frontiers) currently worship. The "Wooden Hut" is fondly remembered by Cambridge author F.T. Unwin in his book "Gentle Tales of Old Cambridge" where he speaks with great affection about Pastor Smith and describes the church venue as "a cosy little church, made of wood, with a tortoise-stove sweltering away in its centre; with small, straight-backed whicker chairs, rodded together..." (p.126). It was, nevertheless, the home for the Cambridge Pentecostal group for no less than four decades.
In 1969, Mr Ralph Inskip (left) took on the work and within a few years had managed to secure a new and more permenant home for the fellowship in an old Baptist chapel in Tenison Road. The mortgage on the property was paid off very soon and the Assemblies of God has remained in the building to the present day. Ralph Inskip continued the strong Pentecostalism of the early days and many miracles were wrought through his prayerful hands. Pastor Inskip continues to minister for Jesus - now way passed retirement age, his current project is leading a small church in Gamlingay!
The leadership passed hands once again in 1993 when Dr. Glenn Balfour (right) and his wife Caroline moved to Cambridge from Newark to progress the ministry. Under Glenn's leadership, a much younger congregation began to gather to hear his inspiring teaching and the building began to be developed into a more flexible environment. After eight years of ministry at Cambridge, Glenn began to hear God's call to teach at Mattersey Hall Bible College, where he was later to become Principal. Seeking a successor, he contacted an old student of his, Peter Cavanna, who took on the central leadership role in 2001.
Throughout the 'noughties', the church continued to thrive with a surge of growth, spiritual fervour and numerous displays of Pentecostal power. By 2005, the Holy Spirit phenomena witnessed at the church was sufficently unusual as to bring it to the attention of the local media. With many people testifying to physical healing at the Sunday services, the Cambridge Evening News featured the church on its front page with the headline "Church Claims its Working Miracles."
Today, King's Church aspires to have that same supernatural dimension that was experienced in the early Pentecostalism of C.F. Smith and Ralph Inskip, combined with the inspiring teaching ministry and exuberance of Glenn Balfour. The wise balance of both Word and Spirit would seem to be both biblical and essential in the twenty-first century.
By 2012, the leaders took steps of faith to install a first-floor into the building, accommodating a larger worship space and a far wider community and midweek ministry. The opening months of 2013 in the new venue were accompanied by a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit with signs, wonders and a fresh passion for Christ. Plans were devised to launch a new Spanish speaking service. The story continues...