A group of dissenters from the established Church of England met locally in 1770. They were known as Non-Conformists and they called themselves the Independent Society. They persuaded one of their kind, Abraham Austin to preach to them. He was a great success and as a result the numbers meeting increased substantially.
In 1774 leading members of Longford [Salem] Baptist Church visited Sutton Coldfield. They had heard about Abraham Austin. They came and talked to him and found that they were all closely connected in their faith, though Austin had never heard of the ‘Believer’s Baptism’ in the Baptist Church. He visited many Baptist Churches in the surrounding counties and became convinced that the ‘Believer’s Baptism’ was completely scriptural and so he was baptised by a Rev. F. Smith at Melbourne Baptist Church. Rev. Smith was later asked to baptise other members of the fellowship and as a result, the group left the Independent Society to form their own church at Muffins Den, Slade Road, Roughley which was consecrated as a Baptist Church in 1774.
In addition in 1776 Little Sutton Baptist Church set up a mission church in Bloxwich, Walsall where services were held every fortnight. The charismatic Mr Austin attracted a following in both Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield and a further mission church was founded in Lombard Street in Deritend but although he was considered to be pastor of both churches, he left before it opened, to minister in London. His place was taken by Mr. John Green who frequently preached at Little Sutton Baptist Church. These two churches were considered to be one church until 1800. Whilst Lombard St thrived, Little Sutton had problems with leadership and Lombard Street supported them as a mission station to Lombard Street. The Little Sutton Baptist Church building was becoming dilapidated and young people were attracted to the ever growing expansion of Birmingham.
After much fund raising a new Chapel was built and opened in 1869 on the site in front of the 1774 building which was refurbished as a room for Sunday School and a small graveyard lay behind the new chapel. The chapel served as Little Sutton Baptist Church until 1956 when the existing church premises were purchased in Grange Lane. The old derelict chapel was finally demolished in 1965.
The premises in Grange Lane were formerly The Hollies Collegiate School and it was the new Minister’s [Rev’d H. D. Northfield] task to oversee the conversion into the new Little Sutton Baptist Church and move the fellowship from the old building to its new premises.
The new church in Grange Lane was officially opened by Rev. Principal R. L Child, [Ex-president of the Baptist Union] on 20th July 1957. In 1972 Little Sutton Baptist Church was renamed Four Oaks Baptist Church.
Ministers since 1957 have been:
Rev. H. D. Northfield 1956-1964
Rev. Malcolm Hilley 1964-1969
Rev. Gordon Price 1969-1971
Rev. Gordon Smith 1971-1973
Team Ministry with Rev. Stephen F. Winward 1973-1977, Rev. Gordon Luton 1977-1980 with each Minister co-ordinating services between Sutton Baptist Church and Four Oaks Baptist Church and joined by lay pastors, Mr. Edward Hughes and Mr. Brian Windsor and Rev. Aubrey Hathaway [retired Minister]
Rev. Stephen F. Winward 1980-1986
Rev. Simon Chevill 1987-1999
Rev. Andrew Phillips 1999 – 2015
During the Rev. Winward’s tenure many changes were made in the interior of the church and the ambiance of the sanctuary area was vastly improved to provide an exceptionally welcoming church. In 1991 the church was given a grant from Sutton Municipal Charities and that and further fund raising was used to update the facilities and provide a new frontage. The church, as it stands today, was finally completed and opened in 1998.
With grateful thanks to Isabel Holder, Don Checkland and Pat Newman for their book ‘The History of Four Oaks Baptist Church’ Published December 2001 by Touchpaper Ltd.