13 November 2023

Whaddon Way Church
In West Bletchley was
the first ecumenical
church in Milton Keynes

Whaddon Way Church on the corner of Whaddon Way and Beaverbrook Court in West Bletchley, Milton Keynes (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023; click on images for full-screen viewing)

Patrick Comerford

I took part in a lunchtime meeting last week in Whaddon Way Church, on the corner of Whaddon Way and Beaverbrook Court in West Bletchley in Milton Keynes.

West Bletchley is in the south-west of Milton Keynes. Bletchley takes its name from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Blecca’s Lea’ (‘meadow’ or ‘clearing’). It was originally bounded by the Roman Watling Street, the River Ouzel, an ancient Roman trackway and Rickley Lane.

Bletchley was originally a twin-centred village that grew up around the parish church of Saint Mary’s and to the south-west around the area marked as Far Bletchley. It grew and developed in the Norman period, along with Water Eaton.

Although they were connected throughout several centuries by land ownership and the church, these settlements did not grow together until the late 20th century, when they joined with Fenny Stratford.

Whaddon Way Church opened as a new building in June 2012 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

With the development of Milton Keynes, Bletchley provided some of the early vital services. Parish Councils were formed in 2001 for all areas under Milton Keynes Council. However, Bletchley was considered too large to be served by a single parish council and it was split into two – West Bletchley Council and Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Town Council.

West Bletchley covers that part of Milton Keynes that is south of Standing Way (A421), west of the West Coast Main Line and north of the Varsity Line. The parish has a population of over 15,000.

The districts and neighbourhoods in the parish include Church Green, Bletchley Park, Far Bletchley, Old Bletchley, West Bletchley, and Whaddon Way – not to be confused with nearby Whaddon in Aylesbury Vale.

Whaddon Way Church, a combined Anglican/Baptist church, was the first ecumenical church in Milton Keynes (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

The Revd Leslie (‘Les’) Jell (1933-2022), who died last year, was closely associated with setting up Whaddon Way Church in West Bletchley, which was founded by Spurgeon Baptist Church, Water Eaton, and Saint Andrew’s Baptist Church, Bletchley, in the 1960s. His wife, Dorothy Jell, was the founder and first chair of Willen Hospice.

Whaddon Way Church opened as a new building in June 2012. It is a combined Anglican/Baptist church and was the first ecumenical church in Milton Keynes. The members originally came from a variety of traditions, much wider than Anglican or Baptist, and they came together to form a united congregation drawn from all ages and a variety of backgrounds.

The Revd Peter Landry, who welcomed us to the meeting last week, is the Pioneer Minister at Whaddon Way Church. ‘We seek to share the love of Jesus in all that we do, and we want to bless our local community through the activities and events that we run as well as through our worship services.’

Sunday services at Whaddon Way Church are at 10:30 each week (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

The worship at Whaddon Way Church draws on the riches of both the Anglican and Baptist traditions, so that sometimes it is liturgical and sometimes it is freeform. The music is mostly what is described as contemporary.

Church members are encouraged to take part in many activities. Several people lead, pray, read and they take part actively in worship. Members play an active part not just in services and church governance but in the many different activities that take place in the Church Centre during the week. The church also has close links with several mission organisations, both local and world-wide.

Sunday services at Whaddon Way Church are at 10:30 each week. During the week, church activities and programmes include home groups, prayer ministry, a seniors’ group (‘Time for You’), a toddlers’ group (Noah's Ark), and a youth group (CafĂ© on the Way).

The members of Whaddon Way Church came from a variety of traditions to form a united congregation (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

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