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Welcome to the Family (Mar 2018)

John Stevens introduces us to the newest members of the FIEC family that were featured on the back of our latest Together magazine.

Welcome to the Family (Mar 2018) primary image

FIEC is all about “Independent churches working together to reach Britain for Christ.” We long to see a thriving and growing gospel church in every community in the nation. It is therefore a huge encouragement that existing churches and new church plants are joining FIEC because they want to play their part in making it a reality.

We are delighted that ten new churches joined FIEC in the autumn. Together they reflect the diversity of the FIEC family, which is united around the core doctrinal beliefs and practices set out in our Doctrinal Basis and the Ethos Statements that have been adopted by our churches.

These churches vary in size and culture, and some belong to other church associations alongside FIEC. Some are long-established, whereas others are very recent church plants. There are three new churches in Scotland. There are now 584 churches affiliated to FIEC.

Bridlington Christian Fellowship

Bridlington Christian Fellowship (BCF) is a very new church in a seaside town in the East Riding of Yorkshire with a population of 35,000 people. It came about as the result of a division within Cornerstone Church. Whilst this is never ideal, it may be inevitable if there are deep and serious disagreements within a church.

FIEC has sought to bring about reconciliation between these churches and to help the two churches to live as “good neighbours” as they both seek to bring the gospel to the community. Our willingness to affiliate BCF was dependent on progress having been made on the part of both churches. It is encouraging to note that differences are being resolved and FIEC are therefore happy to welcome Bridlington Christian Fellowship into the FIEC family.

Bridlington Christian Fellowship

Whilst FIEC is always keen to help in such situations, we also respect the independency of churches and their right to make their own decisions, and we ultimately exercise no power over them. We pray that God will bless both churches, and that through their joint efforts many people in Bridlington will be reached with the good news of the Lord Jesus. BCF is currently working with other evangelical churches in Bridlington (including one other FIEC church) to extend the gospel witness to the town.

Bridlington CF is led by Peter Moss and currently has 21 members and a regular congregation of over 30, including children. Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“For us as a fellowship being part of FIEC is very much a continuation of the relationship we had with them previously. We have greatly benefitted from invaluable practical, pastoral and spiritual support, expertise and encouragement. Being part of FIEC will help us to have a wider outward-looking perspective and enable us to encourage and be encouraged by like-minded churches.”

Cardea Community Church Peterborough

Cardea Community Church is a recognised FIEC church plant that is now becoming a fully affiliated church. It was planted south of the city of Peterborough in a growing area that will eventually have more than 1,600 new homes. The church was started in 2014 and is led by Jonathan Wood, who works bi-vocationally as pastor, alongside his work as a part-time teacher.

Cardea Community Church

From small beginnings, meeting in the training room of the local Morrisons supermarket, the church now has access to the Sports Pavilion, a new community facility opened during 2016 and draws more than 20 people to its services.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“Personally, I believe it is essential for me to identify with and enjoy fellowship alongside pastors in like-minded churches. For example, the encouragement and guidance of Andy Paterson when we were at the “wondering if” stage four years ago was pivotal. Church-wise the whole body would benefit from being part of this same grouping, especially with its emphasis on gospel-sharing.”

Christ Church Tilehurst

Christ Church Tilehurst has also migrated to full affiliation from being a recognised church plant. It began as a congregation of Carey Baptist Church in Reading and in 2011 they established Carey Westwood Farm in Tilehurst, a suburb to the west of Reading city centre with a population of just over 14,000.

Christ Church Tilehurst

In 2016 this congregation became an independent church. They meet in a local school and the initial core group of 30 has grown to more than 85 people attending on a regular basis. The church is led by Dan Dwelly.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“Greater ability and opportunity to find/give support to a larger network of like-minded churches. Gain greater access to FIEC services, advice and support particularly for our church leadership and their full-time pastor.”

Christ Church Trumpington

Another church migrating from a recognised church plant is Christ Church Trumpington. They were planted by Rock Baptist Church (RBC) into a growing area of Cambridge with a rapidly expanding population in excess of 14,000 people.

The church is led by Andrew Sweasey, who was appointed as minister-in-training by RBC, part-funded by the FIEC Training Fund. The church was formed in 2014 and has grown considerably, with up to 90 people attending regularly from a variety of church backgrounds.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“We have benefited greatly from being an FIEC recognised church plant in terms of the support and encouragement and prayer we have received, both from the national organisation and churches locally as we have become established. Seeing and experiencing the value of this we want to continue to develop and strengthen our links with like-minded Christ-centred churches for the sake of the gospel. Andrew received support from the Training Fund whilst at Rock Baptist Church and we have received support in setting up as a CIO and in taking on a building – the old Free Church Chapel in Trumpington.”

Cowley Church Community

Cowley Church Community is a church plant from Magdalen Road Church in Oxford into a more deprived community on the east of the city.

The church was founded in 2016 and was previously a recognised church plant. It has a regular congregation of 25 adults and 8 children and is led by Daniel Blanche and Tim Guest, both of whom received help from the FIEC Training Fund to study with Union School of Theology.

The church is heavily engaged with the Oxford Churches Debt Centre, a charity set up by five churches in Oxford in collaboration with CAP (Christians Against Poverty). This leads to opportunities to share the gospel with those trapped in a cycle of debt.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“We were planted by an FIEC church, and have benefitted from the support of FIEC in that process. We enjoy being part of the local network of FIEC churches, and hope to continue to develop a sense of shared mission in our area.”

Glenburn Baptist Church, Paisley

Glenburn Baptist Church was founded in 1999 in a large suburb of Paisley by a church planter from the USA with an initial group of 15 people. The church was quite isolationist and had little contact with other UK churches. In 2017 Peter Carr, who had previous FIEC connections became pastor. The current congregation numbers around 40, and Peter is keen to foster links with other gospel churches in the area.

Glenburn Baptist Church

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“We want to belong to the wider evangelical church family for strength, vision and mutual benefit.”

Grace Church Haywards Heath

Grace Church was founded in 2008 by All Saints, an Anglian Church in Lindfield. It was replanted into Bolnore, a new build village on the edge of Haywards Heath in Sussex with up to 4,000 people. Its vision is to grow a church for the area centred on Bolnore. It meets on Sunday afternoons in the community centre, and hosts Messy Church once a month.

Grace Church Haywards Heath

The church is led by Jon Hobbs, and has a regular congregation of 40 adults and 40 children. In the last year they have seen one adult and two teens profess faith. Jon works part-time as associate trainer for the Sussex Gospel Partnership and has strong links already with other FIEC churches in the area.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“To support something with a national vision and influence, increase our sense of identity as an independent church, and have access to accountability, protection and support where needed.”

Greenview Church Glasgow

Greenview Church is a long-established Brethren church in Glasgow that was founded in 1873. It is a thriving church with a regular congregation of over 200. In the last year they have seen four professions of faith and baptisms.

The church is led by a team of eight elders, and their full-time pastor is Colin Adams. Prior to joining FIEC as Scotland Director Andy Hunter was the full-time worker at the church. The church has a wide range of ministries, including a CAP debt centre, and was a founder member of the West of Scotland Gospel Partnership. They also have strong links with Contagious Scotland.

Greenview Church Glasgow

One of the key issues for the church was whether joining FIEC would compromise their historic Brethren identity, but our engagement with them over several years helped to reassure them that FIEC would not impose a different identity on the church or undermine their strong links with other Brethren churches in Scotland.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were;

“To express our fellowship with like-minded churches who share a vision for gospel growth in the UK.”

Lifespring Romanian Fellowship, Stanmore

Lifespring Romanian Fellowship is one of many vibrant Romanian churches in the UK. It was founded in 2007 in North West London. The church has a regular congregation of 150 adults and 50 children. They were encouraged to join FIEC by Bethel Evangelical Church, a Romanian church in Kenton which is one of the largest churches affiliated to FIEC. Lifespan is led by Sorin Curtean and a team of elders. They have seen one baptism in the last year.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“We want to be part of a larger evangelical fellowship that shares the same biblical views on the unity of the gospel, same-sex marriage and women in ministry. Also, as a Romanian church, we want to understand both British culture (so we may be able to impact the society) and British ‘evangelical’ culture, so we can have and maintain relationships with our British brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Stoke Gabriel Baptist Church

Stoke Gabriel Baptist Church in Totnes, Devon, is re-affiliating to FIEC. It was founded in 1823 and now has a regular congregation of 25 people.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“The church agrees with its ethos and wants to be part of an organisation that holds true to the authority of the Bible and wants to preach the gospel to those around.”

New Church Plant

Hope Community Church, Bingham

We are also delighted to have recognised Hope Community Church as a recognised church plant. It is being planted from Niddrie Community Church as part of the 20Schemes initiative that plants churches in the deprived urban estates of Scotland. They will launch next year and will be led by Paul McLoughlan.

The church will meet in a refurbished Brethren Hall, which has been renovated with the help of a grant from the FIEC Church Planting Fund. Bingham was ranked 45th out of 6,505 areas for deprivation in Scotland, and is at the lowest index for employment, health, and education.

New Congregations

Two FIEC churches have also started new congregations, which may in time become independent churches.

Woodstock Road Church in Oxford has started Grace Church Kidlington, in a large village between Oxford and Bicester. A core group started to meet in a local school and held its first public service in October.

Barton Evangelical Church in Canterbury has started a new congregation in Barton Faversham. They hope that this new congregation will be a stepping stone to reaching Sittingbourne, a town in Kent that featured in the FIEC 50 Places initiative to plant churches in communities with little or no gospel witness.

Church Resignations

Whilst we are encouraged that new churches have joined FIEC, we are sad when churches leave. Straits Community Church Dudley has become part of All Nations Church Wolverhampton (an AoG church) as part of a process of revitalisation. Buckhaven Community Church in Fife has ceased to be an FIEC recognised church plant because they no longer hold to the FIEC ethos statement on Women in Ministry.

What about your church?

If you would like to consider FIEC affiliation, or becoming a recognised church plant, you can find more information on our website. We will be considering the next raft of applications next week.

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