Toxteth Tab

Toxteth Tabernacle Baptist Church was built in 1871 for its star preacher, William Lockhart, to accommodate the thousand people who were attending his Sunday evening sermons. Opened by Charles Spurgeon himself, it was the first church in Liverpool where all the pews were open to everyone, with no rents or fees charged. Its noticeboard and website confirm that it has lost none of its evangelistic passion or commitment to gospel truth. The physical construction is a typical nonconformist chapel emanating high Victoriana. Upon approach, I was relieved to see it had not become a snooker hall or showroom; I was gladdened to see the gospel texts and continued witness.

I was also struck by the tight security measures surrounding the chapel: tough steel fencing, sharpened spikes, round-the-clock closed circuit television coverage. For Newby Hill upon which our chapel sits, this might be deemed excessive; Liverpool’s district of Toxteth doubtless warrants such precautions. Like the Hebrew tabernacle after which Toxteth’s is named, security is high, and one may not casually enter its environs at will. Yet each week, the gates are unlocked and the doors thrown open: whosoever will may come. I offer no criticism of Toxteth Tab’s security; rather, I commend it. Churches must guard against that which would threaten them, be it thieves, false teachers or deceiving spirits.

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking [h]perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch… Acts 20:28-31a