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Welcome to the Family (July 2018)

An increasing number of churches are joining FIEC because they share our vision to be “Independent churches working together to reach the nation for Christ.” John Stevens introduces us to the newest members of the family.

Welcome to the Family (July 2018) primary image

It was a delight to be able to affiliate twelve new churches at our most recent National Recognition Team (NRT) meeting, with churches from every nation in Britain that reflect something of the diversity we long to see within the FIEC family.

The oldest church had been established for over 300 years whereas the newest had only existed for a matter of months. Some had a Grace Baptist heritage, others a Brethren background and one has Indian Pentecostal origins. They are all committed to local and national evangelism, and many have seen conversion growth and baptisms in the year.

We have also recognised one new multi-site gathering and four new church plants. Together this means that there are 597 affiliated churches and gatherings.

Baglan Community Church, Port Talbot

Baglan Community Church was founded in 2002 and they now have a congregation of over 250 adults and children. The church is led by Pastor Neil Tallamy. They have been blessed with many conversions, including six professions of faith and 12 baptisms in the last year.

Baglan Community Church

The week before the NRT meeting that considered their application for affiliation they had held 10 baptisms. Their vision is one that we would love to see reflected in every single FIEC church:

“We will not rest until every individual in Baglan and the surrounding region is presented with a meaningful and prayer-backed challenge to believe. It is our hope that everyone will soon know that God is alive and is changing countless lives. We want the Church of God to be both great and vast, worthy of the name of Jesus Christ.”

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“We do not wish to be seen to be a lone organisation but rather to belong to a group of like-minded churches. We adopted the FIEC Statement of Faith at inception and closely align theologically. We see the benefit of support, particularly pastoral and legal. We will contribute in any way the FIEC see fit.”

Beccles Baptist Church

Beccles BC is a long-established church in a town in northeast Suffolk, with a population of around 14,000 (including the adjoining village of Worlingham). The church was founded in 1808 and now has a congregation of 125 adults and children. It is led by a team of elders together with Pastor Tom Fenning, who was formerly assistant at Christchurch Dunstable.

Beccles Baptist Church

The church is also a member of the Association of Grace Baptist Churches (East Anglia). I was privileged to visit the church to preach and share the vision of FIEC with the members. Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“We hope that joining FIEC will enable us to: (1) be better resources to reach out to the lost in and around Beccles; (2) be better connected with the work of the gospel through this national church grouping; (3) be better able to support and encourage other churches through our affiliation to FIEC; (4) raise our profile as a church through being connected with a national church grouping.”

We are very encouraged by the growing number of FIEC churches in Suffolk, which are beginning to work together to grow gospel witness and ministry in the towns and villages of the county. FIEC has been instrumental in catalysing and encouraging greater collaboration among churches. This has resulted in a leadership training day with Ray Evans in May and an upcoming meeting in September with Johnny Prime to consider church planting and revitalisation.

Bethany Christian Church, Ulverston

Bethany is a brethren background church in a market town of 12,000 in the South Lakeland district of Cumbria. It was founded in 1955 and now has a congregation of 35 adults and eight children. The church called Matt Rich to be their part-time pastor in April 2018, and they are currently going through a period of review and adjustment. Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“We believe in the Independent church but want to work with, and network with, other churches with similar beliefs, for the sake of the promotion of the gospel both locally and nationally. We want those outside our church to see we are part of a nationally recognised organisation of churches who hold to the same Biblical principles as we do. We would like to benefit from the FIEC’s expertise and advice about changing rules and legislation that impacts the church.”

I was pleased that Matt was able to attend the recent Morecambe Bay Fellowship “Partnership Day” held at Capernwray Hall, which brought together over 400 people from five FIEC churches that are working together to advance the gospel in a region which has a total population of over 500,000; equivalent to that of cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield.

Cambridge Bethel Pentecostal Church

CBPC was founded in 2007 and have associations with a number of Indian Christian associations in the UK including the Indian Pentecostal Church (IPC) and also Malayalee Pentecostal Association (MPA).

They initially met in a home, then hired a school in Cambridge, and were recently gifted the premises of the former Yelling Baptist Church, which is in a village between Cambridge and St Neots. The congregation of 80 is predominantly South Asian.

some of the church leaders

Until recently they have held their services in Malayalam, but they have decided to move to use English, both because this is the first language of their children and they recognise the need to adapt culturally if they are to reach the local population. They have a profound gratitude for the missionaries from Britain who first took the gospel to India.

They describe themselves in these terms:

“CBPC is a Bible-believing, Spirit filled, mission orientated Pentecostal church for people from all languages, nationalities, cultures and ethnicities who live in the UK. The fundamentals of our faith are no different from the noble edifice of Christianity founded by the Apostles of Jesus as seen in the New Testament.”

In the last year they have seen seven professions of faith and five baptisms. Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“Our church and FIEC share the same beliefs and vision of winning the United Kingdom for Christ. We believe joining FIEC will help us win more people and spread the gospel.”

I am delighted that CBPC has decided to affiliate to FIEC. We want to be a diverse family of churches united by our core gospel convictions. CBPC is a wonderful reminder of the need for faithful evangelical churches serving and reaching the multi-ethnic population of contemporary Britain, and of reverse mission to a country that played such a part in the global expansion of Christianity.

I’d love many more churches serving minority-ethnic communities to join us so that we are truly reflective of our country and working together to reach every community. It is also a glorious story of gospel generosity as a closed church with a long history has been able to be put to new gospel use that its founder would never have anticipated.

Cauldwell Hall Road Baptist Church, Ipswich

Cauldwell Hall Road BC is a long-established Grace Baptist church in Ipswich. It was founded in 1911 and has a regular congregation of over 100 adults and children. In considering affiliation to FIEC they were spurred on to do so following the Suffolk Gospel Vision Evening convened and hosted by FIEC in September 2017.

Cauldwell Hall Road Church

They remain a member of the Association of Grace Baptist Churches (East Anglia) and are a participating church of Grace Baptist Mission. FIEC is not a denomination, nor an exclusive identity for a church, so there has never been a problem with FIEC churches belonging to other associations alongside their membership of FIEC.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“We recognise the increasing complexities of Church life and believe it will be beneficial as the FIEC have many resources to support Churches both spiritually and legally. As a Church we have a vision to be able to train those coming from Bible College before going into ministry on their own, we believe this is best done with the support of FIEC. As a church we have had some experience in training and Church planting and therefore if the opportunity arises may be able to give support to future projects. There is also opportunity to widen the scope of our fellowship both locally and nationally.”

Cuckfield Baptist Church

Cuckfield Baptist Church is an even longer-established church that was founded in 1724, and is located in a large village of 3,500 people in West Sussex. It has had a long established Reformed Baptist heritage, and was previously pastored by Errol Hulse.

Cuckfield Baptist Church

The current minister is Will Cockram who was a member of Spicer Street Church and trained at Oak Hill Theological College. They have a regular congregation of 80 people, and have seen two professions of faith and one baptism in the last year. They have recently completed a significant building project and have a thriving evangelistic parent and toddler group attended by over 70. They are also members of Affinity and the Sussex Gospel Partnership.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“We are excited by the national vision of independent churches working interdependently to reach the nation for Christ, We hope that affiliating to the FIEC will allow us to play a greater role in seeing gospel workers trained and equipped for independent church ministry, churches planted and revitalised, with the prayer that the nation is won for Christ.”

Emmanuel Epsom

In contrast Emmanuel Epson is a relatively recent church that was planted in 2016 by Chessington Evangelical Church in south west London. It seeks to reach the 79,000 people who are living in the Borough of Epsom and Ewell.

Emmanuel Epsom

The church meets in Stamford Green School and is led by Nigel Stokes. Having been supported as a recognised church plant they are now ready to become a fully affiliated church. They have a regular congregation of 80-90 adults and children and have seen one profession of faith and three baptisms in the last year. They are also members of Acts 29.

Their reason for joining FIEC was:

“To see Britain reached for Christ.”

Hope City Church Edinburgh

Hope City was founded in 2018 and is a plant out of Charlotte Chapel, an FIEC church in Edinburgh. Their outreach is focussed on equipping and supporting personal evangelism by the whole congregation. It meets in a Novotel at the west of the city and aims to reach people through the congregation’s relational connections from a wide area rather than targeting a specific geographical location.

The church is led by a team of elders from Charlotte Chapel including Matt Round, who was Assistant Pastor there. They have a regular attendance of 65 adults and children. Encouragingly they have seen three professions of faith and three baptisms in the last year.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“Sharing best practices, resources and support with other churches. Consolidated representation of independent churches. National mission partnership. External arbitration in crisis.”

They are also members of the East of Scotland Gospel Partnership.

Libanus Baptist Church, Llanfairfechan

Libanus Baptist Church logoLibanus BC was founded in 1864 as a Welsh-speaking church that would serve Llanfairfechan, a community with a population of 3,600 and the surrounding villages in North Wales. It was re-established in 1999 as an English-speaking congregation and was led by an American missionary.

Chris Arkell was appointed pastor in 2017, having attended Libanus since 2015. Chris is currently being trained through the Evangelical Movement of Wales Theological Training Course. The church now has a regular attendance of 50 adults and children. They have seen 10 professions of faith in the last year. Chris attended the FIEC Leaders Conference in 2017.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“The church was founded by the Baptist Bible Fellowship International (BBFI), who provided a missionary pastor from the States and church members from another BBFI church in North Wales. We’ve had no real relationships with churches in the village and further afield except those with links to BBFI. This crucially needs to change if we are to see the village and North Wales reached for Christ. FIEC affiliation will bring us into a network of churches, united in the gospel. It will also give wise, biblical counsel. We have a growing heart for the community, and a passion for discipleship. We seek to be an encouragement to the FIEC family.”

Refuge Church Glasgow

Refuge Church is a relatively new church that was planted in Glasgow by an American missionary and his family in 2014. It is now led by a plurality of elders of which Peter Fullerton is the pastor. He trained part-time through the Cornhill Training Course and is doing further study with Highland Theological College.

Refuge Glasgow

They do not yet have formal church membership but around 55 adults are connected to Refuge in some manner. They have 34 regular attenders and a further 10 semi regular attenders.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“Fellowship and encouragement from FIEC churches and members (of which I have already benefitted). Training opportunities such as the Leaders’ Conference and Pastors’ Network. We want to support mission in the UK.”

Speke Baptist Church

Speke Baptist Church logoSpeke BC was founded in 1947 and serves an estate eight miles south of Liverpool City Centre with a population of 12,000. By the late 1990s it had declined to a membership of just seven, but was wonderfully revitalised by Bridge Chapel in Liverpool. A number of people moved into the area to support the work.

The church is now led by Steve Casey and Anthony Fisher, and has a regular attendance of 85 adults and children. In 2009 they were able to purchase a local pub which has been transformed into the “Noah’s Ark Centre,” a church and community centre that serves the local community. In the last year they have seen three professions of faith and four baptisms.

The church was affiliated with the Northwestern Baptists Association, but have decided to leave the Baptist Union to affiliate with FIEC. Their reasons for joining were:

“Functionally we are already partnering with current FIEC churches. They are our natural partners by friendship, cooperation, conviction.”

Wheelock Heath Baptist Church

Wheelock Heath BC was founded back in 1704, which will mean that it is one of the longest established FIEC churches. It is based in the village known as either Wheelock Heath or Winterley in Cheshire. In April 2018 the church became two churches, having planted Grace Church in Sandbach, which has been recognised as an FIEC church plant.

Wheelock Heath BC has a congregation of over 140 adults and children and has seen three baptisms in the last year. The church is led by Tim Wilson, who was formerly the Assistant Pastor to Paul Gibson, who has moved to lead the plant.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“We love the vision of “Independent churches working together to reach Britain for Christ.” We have recently planted in the hope of reaching our area and have benefitted from the experience of Andy Paterson and other FIEC pastors. We expect to continue to benefit in this way. However, our church’s main desire has been to benefit other churches. We want to be able to support gospel growth across the UK through prayer, giving and other means. We believe that joining the FIEC is one of the best ways to do that.”

The church also belongs to the North West Gospel Partnership, Affinity and the North Staffordshire Fellowship of Evangelical Churches.

Newly Recognised Church Plants & Gatherings

Alongside these 12 churches that have joined FIEC, we have recognised four new church plants and a new gathering:

  • Grace Church Kidlington – a plant from Woodstock Road Baptist Church Oxford.
  • Grace Church Sandbach – a plant from Wheelock Heath Baptist Church.
  • Loch Leven Community Church Kinross
  • Peak Trinity Church Bakewell – a plant from The Crowded House Sheffield.
  • Fernwood Community Church is a new congregation of Newark Evangelical Church that started meeting in April 2018.

Church Closures & Resignations

We are always sorry that some churches have either closed or chosen to leave FIEC. Calvary Baptist Church Liverpool, Congleton Baptist Church and Durrington Free Church Salisbury have all closed.

Dunamaragh Baptist Church has resigned form the FIEC to join the Irish Baptist Association. They were our only church in Northern Ireland, so it makes complete sense for them to join a local association of like-minded evangelical churches.

Trinity Grace Church Ramsbottom has resigned from FIEC as the church would prefer to seek association with other churches that are Reformed Baptists.

Find out about affiliation

We pray that these new churches and plants will be a great blessing to FIEC, and that we will be able to be a help and support to them. It is so encouraging that they want to join FIEC not just because of what they hope to receive, but to be able to support a national gospel vision.

With only 3% of the UK population born again believers in the Lord Jesus, and gospel churches more strongly represented in the South of England and more middle-class areas, it is essential that work together and support one another if we are to see a thriving gospel church established in every community.

If you share this vision we’d love you to come and join us as well. Find out more.

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

Follow John Stevens on Twitter – @_JohnStevens