For many years now, the minister of Sawston Free Church has also been the minister of Little Abington URC. In 2016 the Synod asked our minister to also take care of Castle Camps and so our church family increased to three.
Castle Camps United Reformed Church
Castle Camps is about eleven miles east of Sawston. The wonderful old non-conformist church is in the heart of village life. The congregation that meets each Sunday morning at 10.30 is not very big but they are deeply engaged in the community, running Songs of Praise every couple of months in the evening and sharing regularly with the Anglican congregations at Shudy Camps and Castle Camps. They interact with the school and are always looking at ways of “getting out there.”
Read the entry on the Castle Camps village website
Little Abington United Reformed Church
(All footnote references refer to the Cambridgeshire Council history pages.)
On September 15th 2019, Little Abington United Reformed Church held its final service. It had been increasingly difficult to do all that is physically and financially required to continue as a church and so it was that the church passed a motion at a church meeting on July 21st 2019, giving thanks to God for the worship and witness of the church in this village since 1888 and paying tribute to the ministers, deacons, elders and members who contributed so much to its life and vitality throughout its one hundred and thirty one years of history, and resolving that the church be dissolved from 15th September 2019.
In 1675, six people were presented for not coming to church at Great Abington. (fn. 521) In 1676, six dissenters were registered in that parish, but none at Little Abington. (fn. 522) In 1678 a Quaker member of the Amy family was imprisoned for refusing to pay tithe on wild pigeons (fn. 523) and then in 1728 Great Abington was said to have five dissenting families and Little Abington six dissenters; (fn. 524) in 1783 only Little Abington had a dissenting family (fn. 525) but then in 1798 a house there was registered for dissenting worship, although (fn. 526) the parish still included only two dissenting families, both of long standing. In 1825 the only recorded dissenter at Great Abington was one labourer. (fn. 527)
In 1826, two men registered their houses for dissenting worship, and then a preacher from Linton in 1833, (fn. 528) but neither parish had any permanent non-conformist congregation until after the 1870s, (fn. 529) when the Congregationalists from Sawston began mission work at Little Abington, (fn. 530) having a preaching station there from c. 1888. (fn. 531) The vicar believed their main audience to be drawn from immigrant labourers, (fn. 532) and although the meeting-house had 60 sittings in 1899 there were only seven full members in 1905 and 10 in 1916. (fn. 533)
In 1920 the cottage (preaching station) was sold and an ex- WW1 army hut was purchased and officially opened as a Place of Worship on the 14th April 1921. In the 1930s many non-conformists came from the north-east of England to the Land Settlement and numbers attending services rose dramatically.
Daphne Hannah writes: “When I first came to the church in 1954, Miss May King was its leader. She was a dedicated Christian woman who lived her life for the church and the community. Mrs Mabel Germany was Church Secretary, a post she held for 40 years. Attendance has fluctuated over the years; it has been down to four or five, sometimes up to sixteen or seventeen. In the 1980s we had twenty five children on the Sunday School register.”
In 1972 Little Abington, combined with Linton, Haverhill and Castle Camps to form the Haverhill Group of United Reformed Churches under the ministry of the Rev. Bill Clement. In 1996 it was agreed to split the group and in 1997, the Rev. Alex Jacob was appointed Minister. Little Abington later became linked with Sawston Free Church under the ministry of the Rev. Peter Ball and then in 2009 and 2010, under the ministry of the Rev. Bruce Waldron, Lt. Abington URC held a local craft display, some Songs of Praise Services in the evenings, and for a short time hosted an ecumenical Play Group working with the Village Rector. For the last seven years the church has continued to have weekly services on Sunday mornings, except that the third Sunday service each month was moved to the afternoon so that the minister could have regular monthly worship with the congregation. It was a great privilege to host the first every shared service with the Parish Church only a few years ago and that relationship has gone from strength to strength.
Daphne writes: “We have been very fortunate to have had many inspiring lay preachers and ministers to lead worship over the years. It is with great sadness that we feel we can no longer effectively run the church. Jesus said “Do not be afraid little flock.” I’m sure we are not. When we lock the door for the last time, God is not locked inside. Thankfully he is with us always. We can step forward in Faith, Hope and Love.
At the meeting where the decision was taken to close this church, representatives of the Parish Church attended and extended both their sympathy and a very warm and heartfelt invitation to join with the Parish Church. The final act of worship was a Communion Service, led by the Rev. Bruce Waldron; the speaker being the Rev. Paul Whittle, Moderator of the Eastern Synod.
Our prayers and sympathy are extended to the congregation of Little Abington United Reformed Church.