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Welcome to the Family

At the latest meeting of our National Recognition Team we welcomed six churches to the family and noted four new church plants or gatherings, while some other churches closed or moved away from FIEC. We asked John Stevens to fill us in.

Welcome to the Family primary image

I continue to be encouraged by the number of churches that are applying to join FIEC because they share our vision of independent churches working together to reach Britain for Christ.

I’m delighted to introduce you to the latest members of the family and they reflect the geographical and cultural diversity of FIEC.

Newly Affiliated Churches

Aspley Evangelical Church

Aspley EC logoAspley Evangelical Church is a thriving and growing church in North West Nottingham. Founded in 1931, it currently has a regular congregation of over 90 adults and 40 children. Martin Clowes serves as full-time pastor. They have four elders, a Youth Pastor and an overall leadership of 10.

They have a wide range of initiatives seeking to reach into the local community, and are planning to redevelop and extend their building, which is almost full to capacity. In the last year there have been three professions of faith. The church has a Brethren background and they have strong relationships with a number of other FIEC churches in both Nottingham and Derby.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“Other churches that we have close links with are members. We wish to develop further links with like-minded churches. In an ever-changing world we want to be part of an organisation that can have a voice in today’s wider society.”

Braintree Evangelical Church

Braintree Evangelical Church is a small church in Essex, an area of the country which has a relative paucity of evangelical churches. It was founded as a wooden mission hall in 1922, which was rebuilt in the 1960s. They have a regular congregation of 20 adults, the majority of whom are elderly, and two children.

Braintree EC

They are led by two retired pastors, Keith Ives and Peter Hawes, who are both acting in an honorary capacity. They have a passion for prayer, which is reflected in a number of different prayer gatherings, and take a monthly service in a local retirement home.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“To be affiliated to a fellowship of churches that honour the gospel and seek the expansion of God’s kingdom in the contemporary world. To seek possible training of help for the church’s future as a local assembly of believers. To contribute time and gifts where appropriate.”

High Road Baptist Church Finchley

High Road Baptist Church is a church with a long history that is undergoing revitalisation. It was founded in 1791 in central London and has just celebrated its 100th Anniversary at its building in Finchley.

High Road BC

It is led by David Wilson, whose ministry there is supported by US churches via the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE), and he has been at the church since January 2016. The church currently has a weekly average attendance of around 17 adults and children. They are seeking to reach the local community by re-establishing within the congregation what it means to be a church community in addition to various outreach events and door-to-door leaflets.

Their recent Summer BBQ saw nearly 70 people come onto the church grounds to meet the church and hear what it’s about. The church is also a member of the Association of Grace Baptist Churches South East.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“As we re-establish ourselves in north Finchley we feel the relationships with FIEC will be a great benefit to us as well as we can be to the FIEC as we are seeking to build the church here in North London.”

Kingfisher Church, Little Paxton

Kingfisher Church is a relatively recent church plant in Little Paxton, which is a village two miles to the north of the growing town of St Neots. It was planted from St Neots Evangelical Church (SNEC) in 2013, and is led by Richard Fairbairn, who trained at Oak Hill Theological College before serving as assistant minister at SNEC. He was part-funded for two years by the FIEC Training Fund and the church received a grant from FIEC as a “recognised plant” to set up as a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) with the help of FIEC Practical Services.

Kingfisher Church

Kingfisher Church is now well established, with a regular congregation of more than 50 adults and 35 children. They have now started Sunday evening meetings too.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“We are planted from an FIEC church and are committed to the FIEC vision and ethos.”

Redeemer Church Manchester

Redeemer Church logoRedeemer Church Manchester will be a church plant in Chorlton in South West Manchester, planted by Grace Church Manchester. They haven’t started meeting yet, but the Founding Pastor is Greg Willson, who is from the US and belongs to the Acts 29 church planting network.

They are supported financially by SaRang Community Church South Korea and Riverside Community Church in South Carolina. The planting team currently consists of 10 adults and two children. They aim to be a “gospel formed family on mission” and to reach the growing number of young professionals living in the area. They will also be affiliated to Acts 29.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“Affiliation with FIEC is the best fit theologically and pastorally for RCM. We hope to gain knowledge from the FIEC’s collective wisdom as well as benefit from the community life. We intend to support financially, prayerfully and by actively partnering and supporting FIEC churches to promote the gospel.”

Wooler Evangelical Church

Wooler EC in Northumberland was founded in 1993 by a group that left the local United Reformed Church because of its theological liberalism. They bought an old community hall and rebuilt a church on the site in 2000. They have a regular congregation of just over 40 adults and have recently appointed Michael Veitch as their new Pastor. They have a strong commitment to Bible preaching and a heart to reach the local community with the gospel.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“To belong to and contribute to an umbrella organisation with other evangelical churches like ourselves. Identity doctrinally. To be able to access expertise and guidance where appropriate. Being geographically isolated ourselves, to enable the pastor to benefit from fraternal and mutual encouragement. To benefit from availability of training courses if needed.”

Newly Recognised Church Plants & New Gatherings

One of the great excitements about FIEC is that more and more of our churches are catching a vision for church planting, and becoming church planting churches. 35 church plants have been recognised by FIEC in the last 33 months. You can find out more about recognition – including loans and grants for recognised plants – in our church planting pack.

Grace Church Wakefield

Grace Church Wakefield is a plant from Dewsbury Evangelical Church into a city with great gospel need and relatively few gospel churches. It is led by Ian Goodson, who has long held a vision for gospel work in Wakefield. They meet in a community hall and have a core group of about 15 members, mainly young families.

Grace Church Wakefield

Their reasons for seeking recognition from FIEC were:

“Dewsbury EC are members of FIEC. FIEC’s strong national direction and vision. Wider network of leadership support (hopefully!). In future a means by which we can contribute. Offers some national voice.”

Spen Valley Church

Spen Valley Church logoSpen Valley Church is a plant into Cleckheaton. It is led by Graham Thomson, who has been part-funded by the FIEC Training Fund to work at Hope Church Huddersfield. He has been joined by Derek Ventress, who was pastor of Staincliffe Baptist Church, which recently closed, thus freeing Derek to join this new gospel venture.

They are working in partnership with six local churches, four of which are FIEC churches. The Spen Valley has a population of 60,000 people, and there is an urgent need for a gospel witness. They plan to start meeting for public worship at Howard Park Community School in September 2017.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“Graham and Derek are both currently Pastors in FIEC churches and have been very encouraged by the momentum and culture of support within the FIEC. Graham has especially benefitted from the help of the Training Fund. As a team, we are encouraged by the togetherness, vision, and desire to reach our nation for Christ together. We want to take advantage of the opportunities that being in fellowship with 500+ other independent churches, all seeking to reach our nation with the gospel, brings. And we also want to do our bit, and link arms with others as, together, we proclaim that Jesus is the Saviour our whole nation needs. Graham has written more on this on our website.”

Town Church Bicester

Town Church logoTown Church is a new plant in Bicester, a rapidly growing town to the north of Oxford. For some time people have been travelling out of the town to church. This is a plant from Magdalen Road Church in Oxford (FIEC), with others linked from Long Crendon Baptist Church (FIEC) and St Ebbes Headington. Five of the core group of 16 adults also work for Christians in Sport, who are based in the town.

They plan to launch on 7 January 2018 and have made other churches in Bicester aware of the plant. The church will receive a grant towards setting up as a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) with FIEC Practical Services. They are also looking to join Acts 29.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“We are mainly coming from Magdalen Road Church Oxford and have appreciated the fellowship and support of the FIEC whilst in Oxford. We have also been greatly encouraged to see the FIEC’s heart for the gospel going out to the towns and cities of the UK and beyond, and their highlighting of Bicester as a key town for a church to be established. We would look forward to working with and being united with like-minded churches and supporting the vision of FIEC in planting, training and membership.”

It is a special joy to recognise Town Church because Bicester was one of the communities identified as in need of more gospel witness in our “Go Into” project, which stimulated prayer for church plants in 50 places around Britain. We give thanks that these prayers are being answered.

Abbey Wood Community Church

Abbey Wood CC is a new congregation that has been established by The Slade Evangelical Church in Plumstead in South East London. It will be meeting at St Paul’s Academy Assembly Hall from 3rd September 2017. 

Closures and Resignations

Whilst it is encouraging that new churches and church plants have joined FIEC, it is inevitable that there have also been some church closures and departures.

Fittleworth Evangelical Free Church in Sussex, Oak Tree Church in Birmingham and Staincliffe Baptist Church in Dewsbury have closed.

Brynteg Village Church in Wrexham has moved its affiliation to AECW.

Lightbowne Evangelical Church Manchester and The King’s Church Addlestone have resigned because they wish to appoint female elders or pastors, which is contrary to the FIEC statement on Women in Ministry.

Kirriemuir Free Baptist Church resigned because they did not think they gained sufficient benefit from their membership of FIEC.

Joining FIEC

Overall the net effect of these new affiliations has been significant growth, and we pray that the church plants that are currently small will become well-established churches reaching their communities. Over the last seven years 115 churches have joined FIEC, and we have recognised 35 new church plants, which means that there are now more than 560 churches committed to working together to share the good news of the gospel with the 97% of the people in Britain who do not know Christ.

Every church that joins FIEC helps us to realise this vision. Find out more about joining FIEC.

John Stevens photo
John Stevens - FIEC National Director

John is FIEC's National Director. He's married to Ursula and they have four children. He loves books. John blogs regularly – and at length – over at www.john-stevens.com


Follow John Stevens on Twitter – @_JohnStevens