Alma Church

Alma Church History

Alma Church, Bristol is part of the Evangelical Alliance. The congregation is about 100 people - small enough to be able to make friends and get involved easily and large enough to have plenty of exciting things going on!

The church has its roots in the Brethren movement. The original Bethesda Chapel was situated in Great George Street (1832) - and was led for a time by George Muller. The Alma Road church was erected in 1872 as a daughter congregation and became known as Clifton Bethesda to distinguish it from the parent church (which was destroyed during WWII).

Our general purposes as a church are outlined as:

  • Helping people understand and respond to this message.
  • To be a worshipping, biblical, welcoming, caring and growing community.
  • To meet together regularly to encourage discipleship, spiritual life and personal transformation.
  • To equip members for life and ministry in the church, home, workplace and world.

General History

In 1832 a group of Brethren believers began meeting in a building on Great George Street (off Park Street) and became quite a large congregation. The group invited a German-born man, George Müller, to co-ordinate the work at Bethesda Chapel as it was known. George Müller later went on to found the Orphan Homes. As the congregation became larger, it was decided to create "daughter" churches in other parts of Bristol.

In Alma Road, Clifton, there was a plot of land owned by a wealthy Bristol shipbuilder. A notice offered it free to any group wanting to erect a church building. So, by 1871, a building was erected in Alma Road and became known as Clifton Bethesda, to distinguish it from Bethesda Chapel in Great George Street (the original building was destroyed during World War II).

The church work at Clifton Bethesda grew and continued and in 1972 celebrated its centenary. As the original Bethesda no longer existed, the name Bethesda Church was assumed instead. However, over the years, because of the location in Alma Road, it became known as Alma Church.

Alma Church has always been evangelical in character and Mission work has always been an important part of church life. Alma was involved in setting up the alliances of Bristol Churches, and is now a part of the Evangelical Alliance.

Many students have found the church suited their approach to worship. The increasing numbers of overseas students to the UK has caused many to come to Bristol and make Alma Church their spiritual home while in England. It's interesting to hear animated conversation going on in Mandarin and Cantonese as Asian students catch up with each other after the service!

Building Projects

The main church hall remains largely unaltered since its construction, but as the church and community programmes grew, it became necessary to expand the building.

The first phase of the development was the addition of the entrance foyer and toilets. This was completed in early 1998.

The second phase was to add a community hall to the back of the church, along with a larger kitchen and rooms for children's activities. This was completed towards the end of 2002.


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