Visit the Heritage Room at Fuller Baptist Church and discover links between Carey and other great men. Along the road is the 'Mission House' – now a residential home for the elderly – where the BMS was founded. Opposite is the home of Thomas Gotch for whom Carey made shoes while at Moulton.
It was at Olney that William Carey first met Andrew Fuller. Carey was a young Christian and Fuller was preaching at the Northamptonshire Baptist Association meetings there. This was the beginning of a life-long friendship and commitment to world mission. While living at Moulton, Carey would walk to Kettering every two weeks to bring boots he had made for Thomas Gotch, returning with leather for the next batch. (Gotch's home, Chesham House, is in Lower Street almost opposite the Mission House.) But when Fuller first visited Carey in Moulton and saw how hard he was working, he spoke about his concerns to Gotch who was one of his deacons. The shoe manufacturer agreed to pay Carey a small allowance from his private purse, teasing him with, 'I don’t mean you to spoil any more of my leather.'
In 1789 Carey moved to Leicester to become minister at Harvey Lane. He continued to campaign for world mission and was invited to preach to the Association meetings in Nottingham in May 1792. He chose Isaiah 54:2,3 as his text and called on them to 'Expect great things from God: attempt great things for God.' His message was well received but called for action, which made men hesitate. When discussion was turning to other affairs, Carey tugged Fuller's sleeve, 'Is there again nothing going to be done, sir?' Fuller suggested that they should meet again in October with a view to setting up a mission society.
This meeting was held in Kettering in Widow Wallis' back parlour. Her hospitable home was called 'Gospel Inn' and is now the Carey Mission House, a home for the elderly. A group of 14 men agreed to form the society, later known as the Baptist Missionary Society. Fuller passed round his snuffbox to collect financial pledges of support, which amounted to £13 2s 6d. All Carey could realistically promise was the proceeds from his newly published Enquiry, but when a volunteer was invited to become the first missionary, it was he who offered. Andrew Fuller was appointed Secretary, a job which he would have for the rest of his life.
The Heritage Room at Fuller Baptist Church is a rich source of memorabilia of this period. There is a banner recording two centuries of local missionaries serving with the BMS. The church contains memorial plaques and a stained glass window. The graveyard is also of interest.
So at Kettering:
- The Baptist Missionary Society was born in a leap of faith, which seemed more than a little crazy!
- At last Carey's vision began to be realised.
- Fuller wrote The Gospel Worthy of all Acceptance – presenting a powerful case for world evangelisation.
- Fuller became one of Carey's staunchest supporters, raising money for the Mission, corresponding with India and communicating news and needs all around Britain.
- William Knibb, greatly inspired by the work of Carey, left Kettering in 1824 as a missionary to Jamaica, founding churches and schools and playing a major role in liberating slaves.
Church AddressFuller Baptist Church
51 Gold Street