I was involved in the London Bible study class that Thera Barber was teaching back in the 1970’s. When Thera came back from her visit to the States and suggested that we start this CBS class, we all thought it would be a great idea to try it and see how we got on with it.
Those first few years we met at St Paul’s, Robert Adam Street. The class grew in numbers and we had a children’s programme that ran as well. Because a great number of the class members were Americans, in the UK because their husband’s work was here for a while, we regularly had new people coming and others leaving, but the friendships and fellowship were very warm and strong.
Eventually, St Paul’s became unavailable and we moved to Westminster Chapel, but it turned out to be difficult for people to get to, and the facilities were not what we needed, so the decision was made to move to the American Church in Tottenham Court Road. This proved to be a good meeting place and the class numbers continued to grow.
By this time, we had formed a National Servants’ team consisting of the leaders of the four classes. Joyce Bromley, Hilary Fenby, David and Gillian Mason and myself. We set up our first training session and then our first Conference at Hothorpe Hall in Market Harborough, Leicestershire which was a lovely venue. We set up Area Visitors and we each visited developing classes to support and encourage the leaders. I had the privilege of looking after the Virginia Water and Woodford Green classes.
Thera was always looking for British ladies to take leading roles so that it would become a British CBS. Around 1980 we were able to go to America for training as class leaders and discussion group leaders. It was a wonderful experience and gave us the background and logistics of how CBS classes were run. We met some very lovely people and one of those ladies was Lee Campbell whose vision it had been originally to begin CBS.
Back in those days the class leader was also the teacher, which meant that not only did the leader have to run the class and train new leaders, she had to prepare the talk as well. In 1989 I became the Leader of the London Class and delivered my first talk. I was the Assistant Leader at the time our Leader was sent back to the States and so it fell to me to take over from her. We had an excellent Coordinator in Rene Barker and she remained in that serving post long after I had moved on to set up another class in Frinton on Sea when we moved there.
In Frinton we had been running ‘Breakfast for Women in Clacton’. Harriet Win-Jones, the Rector’s wife, suggested to the committee that we should not only tell the ladies about Jesus and His salvation but that we should teach them in a Bible study. At that time, I was travelling to London every Tuesday to teach the class there and when a new lady became available to teach the London class I suggested that we try CBS in Clacton. The Rector of St James Church, Clacton, said we could use the Parish Hall, so we announced that we were starting a class and about 30 women signed up. Our Coordinator was Joyce West and the Assistant Teaching Director was Francis Wood. I taught the class until we moved to Swindon 16 years ago.
We were also adapting some of the lessons to British spellings and style – my husband Maurice helped with Anglicising some of the studies.
One of the joys of working in CBS was to see how God raised up people when they were needed with the right talents and abilities. One of these women was Veronica Alvarez. Her mother was in our Clacton class and Veronica became interested and joined the London class. She took over as the leader, has gone on to develop a host of classes and today is involved in the leadership of CBS in Europe as well as the UK.
I am now a member of the Reading class which was started by Hyde Yodie formerly a member of the class in Virginia Water. When she moved to Twyford, Berkshire, she started a class in Reading and it was a real blessing for us to find a class here when we moved to Reading 6 years ago.
I can never express how much CBS has meant in my life and I thank God that He placed a desire and a vision into the hearts and minds of all those who are responsible for the organisation we have today.