Hounsom Church grew out of an inspiration placed in the minds of members of the Sussex Pioneers.  The Pioneers were a group of men appointed by the Sussex Congregation Union and Home Missionary Society to spread the gospel throughout Sussex by planting missions and churches in strategic locations. 

 

One such was the land north of the Old Shoreham Road which we know as Hangleton.  In 1936, housing development was rapidly spreading as far north as the Hangleton Road.  Prominent among the Congregationalists of Sussex was William Allin Hounsom.  He was a wealthy businessman who owned land in West and East Sussex and was described as "a stalwart figure in Congregationalism and beyond".  He raised funds, gave land and donated a house.  Sadly, he did not live to see the church built.  The church in Hove, Cliftonville Congregational, of which he was a member, was given the task of organising and overseeing the work, and supplying the nucleus of a congregation.  This was supplemented by the results of a door-to-door canvas carried out by the young minister, fresh from college, Rev. Jason S. Wright B.Sc.  The first church secretary, Mr. Harold Wright, no relation, came from the membership of Cliftonville. 

 

 

History

The doors were opened for the dedication and commencement of worship as a Free Church on 17th September 1938, and was accepted into the Sussex Congregational Union in September the following year, a fortnight after war was declared on Germany.  Consequently, there was dearth of men in the congregation, but five of the six deacons served in a platoon of the Home Guard stationed at the local Greyhound Stadium.  They frequently appeared at morning worship in full battle dress after a night on guard duty.  

 

During this period the Rev. Jason Wright was called to another ministry and his place was taken by the Rev. J. Harvey Goldsmith who saw the church through the end of the war years into the long-for peace.  The Sunday School had started in a private house some months prior to the opening of the church and grew rapidly, especially with the influx of evacuees.  Even after their return to their homes, the Sunday School register contained well over a hundred names.  Life Boys, Girls' Brigade and Boys' Brigade were all formed  in the first two years of the church and in 1950 a new hall was built and opened to cope with the flourishing work among the children and youth of Hangleton.

 

 

In September 1939 a membership roll was formed comprising 70 adults, and because of the war the membership grew quite slowly. However, a Women's Fellowship was formed and met in the very first week of the church's opening.  They continue to meet to this day, albeit under the name Hounsom Fellowship, to cater also for men.  A second ladies meeting came into being in the late 50's to provide a meeting for those who could only come together during the evening.  This group also continues to flourish.

 

Throughout its history, Hounsom Church has tried to be innovative.  Drama and religious films were extensively used to proclaim the gospel during evening services.  It was one of the first churches in the district to introduce "family services".  Junior Church was adopted as a way of preparing youngsters for church services.  With peace came renewed activity and more rapid growth, reaching a peak of 120 members.  Ministers came and went, eleven, if we count the present incumbents.  That has meant a lot of changes including our name, for we are no longer "Congregational", but " United Reformed".  Changed?  Yes, but not at heart, for we continue to serve the One who brought us into being by His grace.