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Welcome to the Family (May 2018)

Next week, our National Recognition Team will meet to consider applications from churches to join our Fellowship. Here, John Stevens introduces us to the newest members of the family who joined in the Spring.

Welcome to the Family (May 2018) primary image

The vision of FIEC is to be “Independent churches working together to reach Britain for Christ.”

Our churches are united by their common gospel-centred doctrinal convictions, but diverse in their style of ministry, size and geography. It was hugely encouraging to welcome six new churches into FIEC membership at our most recent National Recognition Team meeting, including two churches in Wales. These churches have affiliated because they want to be part of our national gospel vision, and they will help us to realise it more effectively.

All those joining us reflect something of the growing diversity of the FIEC family. Some are long established Independent churches, whereas others are relatively recent church plants. Some are large churches, whereas others are small. They hold a spectrum of evangelical beliefs on secondary issues, but are all committed to evangelism and reaching their communities with the good news about the Lord Jesus.

It is especially encouraging that many of them have seen people converted and baptised in the past year. Several are located in areas where FIEC has not been well represented, or which have relatively few gospel churches.

Coton Green Church, Tamworth

Coton Green Church is a large church of 200 adults and 60 children in the town of Tamworth in Staffordshire, which has population of 80,000. Formed in 1968, it has reached a key transition period as the founding Pastor is seeking to retire.

Coton Green Church

The church is more charismatic in its theology and style than many FIEC churches, but they fully adhere to the doctrines and practices that unify the FIEC family. They have particularly appreciated the help and assistance of FIEC Church Leadership Consultant Ray Evans, and have valued our advice and help in developing the process to appoint a new Senior Pastor.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“Build a network of like-minded people. Support and guidance to keep the church doctrinally grounded and supported. Build the kingdom for the future.”

Emmanuel Church Marlborough

Emmanuel Church was a recognised FIEC church plant that has now become a fully affiliated church. It was planted in 2015 in the Wiltshire town of Marlborough, which has population of 8,500.

The church was planted by three FIEC churches: Calne Free Church, Emmanuel Chippenham and Freshbrook Church, Swindon with additional support from other partner churches. It is led by Reuben Mann and meets in a school at 4pm on a Sunday so as to be accessible to local families.

Emmanuel Marlborough

The church now has a congregation of 42 adults and 26 children and has seen two professions of faith in the last year. The church is a model of how FIEC churches can “work together” to do what none of them could do on their own.

You can find out more about Emmanuel Church in this video which showcases the mission work of FIEC churches:


Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“To partner with and be supported by other like-minded churches, for example in mission, training and practical support.”

Hill City Church, Pontnewynydd

Hill City Church was planted by Dai Hankey in 2007 with the support of Highfields Church, an FIEC church in Cardiff. It is serving a predominantly working-class community in the Welsh Valleys.

Dai has since moved to Cardiff to begin a new work with asylum seekers and victims of human trafficking, and the church is led by a team of elders, one of whom is Andy Toovey, who produces the FIEC Get to Know… films.

Hill City Church

The church is involved in several compassion ministries, including a Foodbank and Christians Against Poverty. They also run a ‘Messy Church’ initiative in a nearby area. They have a congregation of 50 adults and children, and have seen five professions of faith and three baptisms in the last year.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“Connection to the wider UK church network. Partnering with other FIEC churches locally. Pastoral support/accountability via the Pastors’ Network.”

Newtown Evangelical Church / Eglwys Efengylaidd y Drenewydd

Newtown EC is a busy and thriving church in a market town of 11,500 people in Powys, relatively close to the Welsh/English border. It was planted in 1979 by several families who felt the need for a conservative evangelical church with an expository Bible ministry.

It has grown to a church with an attendance of 80 adults and 25 children. In 2015 NEC planted Welshpool Community Church, which is “recognised” by FIEC as a church plant with a view to full affiliation when it becomes independent.

Newtown Evangelical Church

Newtown EC is also affiliated to AECW (Associating Evangelical Churches of Wales), which is identical to FIEC in doctrine and purpose. One of the main questions raised when I visited the elders and congregation to answer their questions about FIEC was whether affiliating to FIEC would compromise their identity as a Welsh church. I was at pains to stress that they were free to belong to both associations, and that FIEC is keen to support churches in their gospel mission to Wales, but also adds the dimension of a national vision for Britain as a whole.

Newtown’s reasons for joining FIEC were:

“As a mission partner in reaching Wales and the rest of the UK (our “Judea” and “Samaria”), we hope this will be a meaningful partnership towards our goal of playing a part in planting churches in Mid and North Wales and back over the border in Shropshire and Herefordshire in particular.”

Potton Baptist Church, Bedfordshire

Potton Baptist Church is a long-established Grace Baptist Church in a town of nearly 8,000 people ten miles to the east of Bedford. The church was founded in 1800, and today has a regular congregation of 34 adults and 12 children. It is hugely encouraging that their services attract a number of young people who are not from church backgrounds, and in the last year they have seen five professions of faith and baptisms.

Potton Baptist Church

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“We want to be a more gospel-driven church and with the help of the FIEC to draw on their expertise. We would also like to have more fellowship with other local FIEC churches for prayer and mutual support.”

FIEC has never demanded exclusive membership of its churches, and Potton BC is also a member of the West Anglia Association of Grace Baptist Churches.

Trinity Baptist Church Gloucester

Trinity BC was founded in 1929 and is a thriving church in the city of Gloucester, which has a population of 130,000. It has a growing congregation of 160 adults and 35 children and is led by Pastors Phil Jones and Matt Gamston.

Trinity Baptist Church

The congregation has some racial diversity in a predominantly white community. In the last year there have been four professions of faith and two baptisms. In recent times the church has not belonged to any associations. It is therefore especially an encouragement that they have decided to affiliate to FIEC.

Their reasons for joining us were:

“We want to contribute to the spread of the gospel throughout our nation. We wanted to express our unity with other Bible-believing, gospel-centred churches – supporting, encouraging and learning from them where we can. We would like to benefit from FIEC’s Practical Services expertise – and pastoral support, training etc.”

These new affiliations mean that FIEC is now a family of almost 590 churches, plants and gatherings.

Most of these churches decided to join FIEC after attending our annual Leaders’ Conference, which gave them the opportunity to interact with the wider FIEC family. They were then visited by FIEC Directors, who were invited to preach and answer questions from the congregation about FIEC and what affiliation would mean.

You can find out more about FIEC affiliation from our Join Us page. We’d love to see you at our Leaders’ Conference in Torquay from Monday 12 to Wednesday 14 November 2018. The theme is Here & Now: communicating the gospel in our post-Christian culture and the main speakers are Don Carson and David Robertson.

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