Rev. and Mrs.Theo Bamber
The Life of my father Theodore Mark Bamber:
He was born on 6th September 1891 in Bow, London, the sixth son and youngest child of Ellen (nee Andrews) from Torbryan near Newton Abbot, Devon, and Roland Bamber who was a London City Missionary. His father died when he was still a youth and resources became limited. Leaving school he secured employment with the South Western Railways in the Accounts Department. Very early on he was aware of the Lord's calling and undertook small preaching engagements and at the same time continued with his education at night schools. Finally with the help of one of his older brothers, Arnold, he was able to borrow sufficient money to enable him to enter Spurgeon's College in South London in 1913 and to study for the ministry for four years. While in his final year he was student pastor at Wythes Road Baptist Church in Silver Town, in the East End of London.
At the close of his studies in 1917 he received a call to the Centenary Baptist Church in March in the Fens district. He married my mother Margaret Morris of Brentford, London in November 1917. They had known each other most of their lives even living in the same road for awhile Both their fathers were London City Missionaries and both had lost their fathers at a comparatively early age.My parents lived in March until 1921,where their daughter Margaret Joan was born in October 1918, and their son Hugh Christopher Morris was born in June 1921.
In 1921 my father accepted a call to Frinton Free Baptist Church in Frinton, Essex where he remained until 1925.Late in 1925 he received a call to Rye Lane Baptist Chapel in Peckham, London which he accepted. Their third and last child-Theodora Clarice-was born as they were planning to leave Frinton in December 1925. My mother and the baby were both unwell and their arrival in London was delayed for a few months. They arrived at the Church Manse in Therapia Road, Forest Hill early in1926 and my father's recognition services took place on 14th/16th March 1926.
.During the Second World War on 23rd January 1943 the chapel was extensively damaged, the roof was torn off and the School Hall was in a state of devastation. Not until July 1948 was the chapel officially re-opened.During that homeless period a local empty church, Queen's Road Methodist was made habitable and became a temporary home and later Brunswick Chapel, another local church was used.
In July 1940 my parents suffered the grievous loss of their only son, Christopher, just 19 years of age, who as a Bomber Pilot serving with the Royal Air Force was shot down and killed on a lone mission over Belgium and is buried in the Cemetery at Bruges.
My father remained at Rye Lane despite many invitations to churches in England and abroad; after the war several overseas visits were made to Australia, New Zealand, United States of America, Zaire and Europe until his retirement from Rye Lane, though not from preaching, in 1961.
P.S. In 2003 the Southwark Council in South London named a new road in the Borough after my father. It is interesting to note that Bamber Road is close to Moody Road, located off Southampton Way in Peckham S.E.15, not far from Rye Lane Baptist Chapel. Apparently it is a new development of apartments and houses on a shared ownership basis for local people. Mr.John Beasley was responsible for suggesting this name and my thanks is to him.
An appreciation by the Church Secretary given on the occasion of his 35th Anniversary at Rye Lane Chapel, Peckham, London.(1961)
"In 1926 the Rev.Theo.M.Bamber of Frinton-on-Sea commenced what has proved to be the longest and most eventful ministry in the 142 years' history of Rye Lane Chapel. Coming as a young man who had already had two fruitful pastorates it was clear that the hand of the Lord was upon him. His early ministry, giving special emphasis to the Lord's Second Coming and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, soon began to bear fruit. Large crowds gathered Sunday by Sunday, and there were times when the crowds queued an hour before the service in order to find a seat. Many were those who testified to a new-found spiritual experience and these together with new converts steadily increased the membership. The Baptismal Pool has been opened nearly every month throughout the last 35 years and many hundreds have confessed their Lord in this way.
During the present ministry thirty young people have gone forth to the foreign field and seven into the home ministry. A visit to the Congo (Zaire) to see the Field there added zeal and fervour to the Missionary challenge which has been continually emphasised. Other visits abroad have included the United States and Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Inspiring leadership has always been given even in the most challenging conditions. During the war the Fellowship was scattered by evacuation. TheChapel and School Hall were most seriouly damaged and for over five years we were homeless. The under-shepherd, however, still led his flock to pastures new and with encouragement in every situation enabled us to return to a restored Chapel in July 1948.
Spiritual blessings received brought material benefits as well. Pre-eminently Mr.Bamber has been a man of the Word. He has been an expositor and has made the Bible a living book to many who have sat under his ministry.There has always been the manifest mark of the most complete thoroughness about all his utterances. He has never looked for, never wanted, never expected a foremost place.He could not be the man and the power he is today if he had done this. His humility has been one of his most endearing graces.
His outside interests in the Baptist Revival Fellowship of which he was one of the founders (and is now known as the Reformation and Revival Fellowship),Advent Testimony and Preparation Movement (now known as the Prophetic Witness Movement International) and similar bodies have not detracted from the Pastoral side of the ministry, in which he has always had the ready and valuable assistance of Mrs. Bamber. His business acumen is evidenced in Council Meetings and committee work generally, whilst his presiding genius will be greatly missed.
Once again the vision of building possibilities was seen, and the new block of premises at the rear of the Chapel will always be a reminder of the practical and spiritual leadership which the Fellowship of Rye Lane Chapel has enjoyed under the pastorate of the Rev.Theodore Mark Bamber.
At the Memorial Service held in Rye Lane Chapel shortly after his death in March 1970 over a thousand persons were in the congregation including one hundred ministers who met to thank Almighty God for the life of such a faithful and gifted servant.