Welcome to the family dec 2022

Welcome to the Family (Autumn 2022)

September marked the start of the new FIEC financial year. 2021-22 was dominated by the ongoing Covid crisis, which saw the closure of a larger than usual number of churches.

September marked the start of the new FIEC financial year. 2021-22 was dominated by the ongoing Covid crisis, which saw the closure of a larger than usual number of churches.

However, there is now a stream of new churches applying to affiliate to FIEC, many because the crisis has highlighted the value of working together to reach the nation for Christ and has shown the ways in which FIEC is able to help and support its churches.

We are also seeing a growing number of churches turn to FIEC as they leave denominations which have failed to take a clear biblical stand on the issue of same-sex marriage.

It was therefore very encouraging that five new churches joined FIEC at our September National Recognition Team meeting.

They represent something of the diversity we value within FIEC – whether in location, size, age, or church culture – whilst all holding to the Doctrinal Basis and Ethos Statements that unite us.

Two of the new churches were ‘recognised church plants’ from FIEC, which means that we were able to provide them with support and grants to establish the church, for example contributing toward the legal costs of setting up suitable charitable trusts.

Five New FIEC Churches

Hope Church Ambleside

Hope Church Ambleside, in the Lake District, was established as a Brethren Assembly in the 19th century, and their current building dates from 1927. They had joined the Baptist Union in 1989 but withdrew in 2022.

They are a small church with around 20 regular attendees. They have a small group of young people and seek to reach out to the local community, including a stall at Freshers’ Week for students at the University of Cumbria, a Christmas Café, and helping with the local food bank. Raymond Lane is their pastor.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“It is our desire to become affiliated with a group of churches who have an unwavering commitment to biblical truth., practice, and teaching. We believe this will increase fellowship with other like-minded churches - both locally and further afield - encouraging one another in kingdom work.”

Loch Leven Church

Loch Leven Church was planted in Kinross, a growing town of more than 5,000 people in Fife, and became an FIEC-recognised church plant.

  • Loch Level Community Campus web

    Loch Leven Community Campus

  • Loch Leven web

    Loch Leven

They were supported by Tayside Christian Fellowship in Perth. They have a regular Sunday congregation of 60 adults and 25 children, and are led by Dr Richard Gibb.

They meet in the local school (Loch Leven Community Campus) and get involved in local community events. They have seen two professions of faith in the last year and will be holding baptisms this autumn.

Their reasons for fully affiliating to FIEC are:

“To work in gospel partnership with like-minded churches and with a clear doctrinal basis.”

Stonedge Chapel

Stonedge Chapel was founded in 1886 and is in a rural area between Matlock and Chesterfield in Derbyshire. It currently has a congregation of 25 adults.

  • Stonedge Chapel baptism web

    Joint baptism service in the chapel with Peak Trinity Church

They are led by a team of five elders and recently seceded from the Wesleyan Reform Union because of the decision to join Churches Together in England.

Prior to the Covid pandemic, they sought to reach the rural community with a special once-a-month service in a village hall, and by running community fun days and a carol service. They are also considering joining the Midlands Gospel Partnership.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“As a small rural fellowship recently seceded from the Wesleyan Reform Union, we feel FIEC would be our obvious ‘home’. We are keen to align with FIEC’s position statements regarding ecumenism, same-sex marriage, and women in ministry. Our contribution…? Maybe one of a historical perspective with notable moves of God’s Holy Spirit in the later 1920s and again in the late 1950s, which revived the work with many young people converted. We have much experience of rural ministry and its particular challenges.”

Town Church Bicester

Town Church Bicester was planted in 2017 to reach a rapidly expanding community of 30,000 in north Oxfordshire. It was established with support from Magdalen Road Church in Oxford and became an FIEC recognised church plant.

  • Town Church Bicester web

    Town Church Bicester

The church now has a regular congregation of 56 adults and 39 children. They have been encouraged by two professions of faith and one baptism in the last year. They are led by elders Ian Lancaster, Jonny Reid, and Simon Poole.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“In order to gain access to Local Director support, legal advice, and the Training Fund. To be able to attend the FIEC conference for training, teaching, and fellowship. We would also love to provide a legitimate place for members to elevate any complaints or queries.”

Welcome Hall Evangelical Church

Welcome Hall Evangelical Church is in Catshill, near Bromsgrove to the southwest of Birmingham. The church was established in 1939 and was founded by a travelling evangelist who got stuck in the community at the start of the Second World War.

  • Welcome hall web

    Welcome Hall Evangelical Church

It is now led by Rev Jeremy Brooks with a regular congregation of 100 adults and 20 children. In the last year, they have seen seven professions of faith and conducted seven baptisms, which is wonderfully encouraging. Every Sunday morning service is evangelistic in emphasis.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“To strengthen our links with other Independent evangelical churches both locally and nationally, to express tangibly our belief in the interdependence of local New Testament churches, and to partner with FIEC in reaching Britain for Christ.”

Closures and Resignations

Alongside these new affiliations we also noted that two churches had decided not to renew their affiliation to FIEC:

  • Grace Baptist Church Hitchin resigned because they felt that the Grace Baptist Association of the South East was a more appropriate association for them.
  • Oakham Evangelical Church in Oldbury resigned without giving any particular reason.

It is the essence of Independence that churches are free to leave FIEC at any time, and we require all our churches to re-affiliate on an annual basis.

We are encouraged by these new affiliations, which mean that there are now 634 churches in FIEC. Two more churches were considered for affiliation at our December meeting.

If you share our vision to be ‘Independent churches working together to reach Britain for Christ’ you can find out more about joining FIEC on the website.

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