Lancaster: Building for Growth
Moorlands Church Lancaster has been on quite a journey this past 13 years. Nathan Weston reports on their purchase of an historic building in the city to aid gospel growth.
All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.
Thirteen years ago, Moorlands Church had a fresh start. Originally founded as a Brethren Assembly in 1940, the congregation had dwindled to the point of closure when it was revitalised by a team of people moving into the area, including the church’s first full-time pastor, Danny Rurlander.
From the very beginning the church resolved to prioritise the proclamation of the word of God in the city, trusting Paul’s words in Colossians that it is the gospel which brings the growth.
For more than a decade, God has been at work to bring that growth.
Having outgrown our small church building, we moved to a local grammar school and then on to the Sixth Form Centre where we currently meet. Now around 240 people gather in two Sunday morning meetings, including many families, students from the two Lancaster campuses, and folk from overseas. By God’s grace the church has seen many people come to faith, be established in the gospel, and equipped to minister and serve.
In particular we have been privileged to see people sent out from Lancaster to serve in other churches both in the local region and further afield. We have recently begun a pioneering work establishing international students and researchers as “returnee partners”, particularly in mainland China, such that those who return can find Christian friends who can help them integrate into local churches.
Student Worker Gareth Watts says the changing student population of the city provides many challenges and opportunities:
“Lancaster is a small city, and many graduating students have to leave to find work. It’s been a joy over the years to see some stay and become long term members! But most go – and so we want to give the students every opportunity to hear and believe the gospel, be grounded in the truths of the faith, and equipped to be a fruitful servant of Jesus wherever they end up next.”
Building for growth
Now Moorlands has taken the costly step of purchasing the former High Street Congregational Church in the centre of the city.
There are many reasons for buying the buildings – more space on Sunday mornings, a central base for our ministries, and more security in a time when renting public spaces is becoming increasingly difficult for Christians.
But for senior pastor Danny Rurlander, the real excitement is imagining the opportunities for gospel growth at the new site:
“The key reason we are investing in a building is to expand our capacity, so that a greater number of lost people can hear the gospel and be brought to maturity in Christ through the teaching of his word. Having facilities available all week will help us to grow every aspect of the work, including teaching, training, evangelism, church planting and raising up the next generation of gospel workers for the mission field.”
Opportunities and Challenges
The High Street site consists of a 400-seater church building (built in 1772), a church centre with hall and office spaces, and a three-bedroom house. There is much potential in these buildings to create a hub for gospel proclamation, teaching and training which will serve the city and beyond, enabling the church’s vision to see many saved, equipped and sent out to serve.
But there is much to do. In order to purchase the building, the church family have been incredibly sacrificial with their finances, raising over £500,000 (including the sale of the current small church office). But to fully make the most of the new site, the buildings need renovating and modernising, and the church is working with an architect to imagine the best possible redevelopment of the site to create a warm, welcoming, and accessible space for people to hear and respond to the word of God.
All this will cost money, and – especially as the congregation includes many non-earners such as students – the church is dependent on outside support to make this a reality.
Partner with us
Everyone at Moorlands would be so grateful if anyone in the wider FIEC family felt able to partner with us by giving to this project. A gift of any size would make such a difference to the vision to see gospel growth in Lancaster flourish in these buildings.
To read more about the buildings, and to learn how you can partner with Moorlands in prayer or giving, go to our Building For Growth page.