Burlington Baptist Church Ipswich (1921)

Ipswich, Monday, May 30th — Friday, June 3rd.

The meetings continued on the same lines as those held at Lowestoft in March. A prayer meeting in the morning was followed by a Bible reading in afternoon and an evangelistic service in the evening. The venue was Burlington Baptist Church whose pastor, the Rev, Louis Parkinson was eager to have meetings in Ipswich. He had the enthusiastic support of Canon Herbert Hinde. Vicar of St. John's and a convinced evangelical, and also of the Rev. John Patten, Minister of Tacket Street Congregational Church. No particular preparations had been made and the meetings were not extensively advertised, although there had been preparations of a deeper kind. For more than a year, free church ministers had met weekly to pray for revival. There had been prayer meetings for many years on Friday afternoons for the same object, and cottage meetings in connection with the church had been going on for many months. Louis Parkinson had been In Lowestoft to give Bible addresses, and Hugh Ferguson had been to Ipswich to give an account of the revival in Lowestoft. A series of Advent Testimony meetings in Ipswich, at which Douglas Blown should have been the speaker, was cancelled, leaving the way open for the historic meetings that were about to begin.

The Daily News carried a report of the first meeting headed: ‘Brake Loads Coming'. It described the meeting as quiet and undemonstrative, ‘with hymns of a devotional rather than a revivalist type'. Before the meeting began a tele­gram from Lowestoft was read: 'Lowestoft sends heartiest greetings and best wishes for a great ingathering.' According to The Christian the first meeting was unforgettable. 'Eleven hundred people filled the church; Mr Brown's ser­mon was on revival and what it means, and at the close two hundred and fifty Christians rose in response to an appeal to give themselves to God in a new dedication.'

It was soon evident that this was another movement of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of prayer was so intense that the prayer requests spilled over into the afternoon Bible readings. Numbers at the meetings increased and included three 'char-a-banc' loads from as far away as Frinton in Essex. Although people were blessed and sinners were converted, Ipswich was not an easy place to move, and it was not until the last evening — Friday — that the real break­through came. At the beginning of the service Douglas Brown stopped the singing of 'Tell Me the Old, Old Story', to remind the congregation of those who had heard Paul and Silas in prison singing at midnight, saying, There are people outside Burlington Chapel. I would that they were inside. Often the sermon will fail when the praise of God succeeds.' Douglas Brown had announced that he would go into the school-room where he would see inquirers. As the school-room was separated from the church by a private house it meant that inquirers had to go out into the street, but they were undeterred and a steady stream led the building.

An after-meeting was held in the church under the guidance of Mr Ferguson and Mr Parkinson. Speaking to the Convention at Keswick in July, Hugh Ferguson related his experience:

'I shall never forget the after-meeting on the Friday night. When I was appealing to men and women to come to Jesus Christ, to my intense surprise a young woman stepped up on to the lower platform and confessed her love for Jesus Christ and in a few minutes, one after another, young men and women openly confessed Christ as their per­sonal Saviour.’

While preaching in Great Yarmouth the following week, Douglas Brown told the story of that young woman:

'Last Friday night I knelt in a room with a dear girl sixteen years of age. As she knelt at the form she told me her story. She said, 'While you were preaching last night I heard Jesus call me. I ought to have come, but there were two of my friends sitting in the pew and I was frightened to pass them. I could not sleep a wink last night and I have been waiting all day for business to close I have come tonight and I want to make up for being a coward last night' I said, 'My dear young friend, what do you want?' She replied, 'I was such a coward last night: I want to face it before all the people' The schoolroom where we were was two doors higher up the street than the chapel. It was a pouring wet night and I walked back with her to the church. I wanted to stand by her but she did not wait for me. She walked up the three steps on to the platform, turned around and smiled at eleven hundred people. Mr, Fer­guson was speaking: he had to stop; and that dear girl looked that congregation in the face and said, "Friends, I love Jesus Christ. I have given my heart to Him."’

Some of those who responded that memorable night were so overcome that they burst into tears before they could find words to express themselves.

The Ipswich gatherings only lasted five days but the work of revival was none the less real. Although Douglas Brown returned to London on Saturday morning there were prayer meetings in Ipswich that evening, and again on Monday, 'of great numbers and power', and conversions continued.

From, 'A Forgotten Revival', by Stanley Griffin, pages 43-44, with permission from the publishers, DayOne Publications.