Welcome to the family february 2019

Welcome to the Family (February 2019)

At the meeting of our National Recognition Team in the autumn, we saw the number of FIEC churches and church plants climb above 600. John Stevens introduces us to these new members of the family.

One of the great encouragements at FIEC continues to be number of new churches that are applying to join us because they share our gospel convictions and want to support our national vision to be “independent churches working together to reach Britain for Christ.”

It was great to welcome five new churches back in September, together with three new church plants. These new churches have taken FIEC beyond 600 churches for the first time.

Community Church Sheppey

Community Church Sheppey is based in Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. The area has a population of around 40,000. It was founded in 1986 and now meets in a former Methodist church building.

Historically, the church identified with the New Church Movement but were always independent by conviction so never joined a formal network. Since 2001 the church has been supporting a network of churches in Uganda. This has included raising funds to build four church buildings and a school in villages communities. The church also has had a longstanding connection with a ministry in India.

The church has a membership of 65 and over 100 weekly attenders across their two services. They have an active Sunday School with 30 children. Almost a quarter of the church are from an ethnic minority background. In the past year they have seen a baptism and two professions of faith. The church is led by Paul Norris, who worked bi-vocationally until 2017, and his assistant Phil Martin.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“The FIEC holds to biblical truth with a commitment to evangelism and church planting. It will be helpful for the church’s development to be able to identify with a network of Bible believing churches in partnership. We anticipate supporting the mission to reach the nation, flagging up initiatives to congregation and supporting events where possible.”

The church also belongs to the Evangelical Alliance.

Hollywood Christian Life Centre

Hollywood CLC is in a large village in the Bromsgrove district of Worcestershire, just south of Birmingham. It has a population of 4,000, but the wider community includes Whythall with a population of 11,000.

The church began as a Brethren gospel hall in 1958 and is in a socially mixed area. Steve Crosthwaite, a member of the FIEC Pastors’ Network, became pastor in 2014. Steve and one of the other elders attended the FIEC Leaders’ Conference in 2017. The church now has a membership of 53 and over 80 regular attenders including children. In the past year they have seen two baptisms and two professions of faith.

Their reasons for joining the FIEC were:

“We appreciate our independence but miss good gospel fellowship with local churches, which we hope to have through FIEC. We have a heart to support gospel work in the nation.”

They are also members of the Evangelical Alliance.

Park Langley Church Beckenham

Park Langley Church is a relatively young church located on an estate in Beckenham. It was originally planted by Christ Church Bromley in 2007 as a “Fresh Expressions” mission initiative of the Diocese of Rochester.

In 2015 they were told that their Bishop’s Mission Order would not be renewed, and they began to explore what shape their independence would take. After much discussion the elders and congregation decided the best way forward for the gospel in Beckenham was to join FIEC. It is an area of roughly 60,000 people and some 20 churches, yet little credible gospel witness.

They are now working in partnership with FIEC (through London Director Trevor Archer), Co-Mission and Christ Church Bromley to establish a clearly Bible teaching church in central Beckenham, which itself can be a hub for future church plants in South East London. They face a time of great challenge and change, but one of excitement too!

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“Now that we are independent, and no longer part of a denomination, we are seeking to strengthen genuine gospel partnership with others who hold to a similar biblical theology; we want to be part of a wider family (and accountability) working together in evangelism and enjoying the mutual benefit of sharing pastoral, practical and training support.”

They are also members of the Kent Gospel Partnership, which is part of the South East Gospel Partnership.

Silver Street Community Church

Silver Street CC was a church plant into a redundant church in Edmonton north London by Enfield Town Community Church in 2015. This was while Johnny Prime, who is now an FIEC Associate National Director with responsibility for the care of churches and pastors, was pastor of ETCC.

The original planting team were 15 adults and 15 children who moved into the area, and today the church is led by three elders and now has a regular congregation of 115 adults and children. It is in a very ethnically diverse area, with a strong population. It is hugely encouraging that 80 of the regular attenders are from an ethnic group. They have seen six baptisms and two professions of faith in the last year.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“We greatly value the prayer partnership, as well as benefitting from resources and training like the Leaders’ Conference, Pastors’ Network days and legal advice. It’s also a great encouragement to be part of something bigger, sharing with gospel partners nationwide. We hope to be an encouragement to the existing FIEC family.”

The church is also a member of Together for Mission, a five-church FIEC partnership in and around Enfield.

West Side Fellowship, Worcester

West Side Fellowship is a small church in Worcester that was planted in 2012 with just four people to reach out to those on the West Side of the city. Although in the past it has worked together with others through an informal network of local evangelical churches, these relationships came under a lot of strain when others started to include the Catholic Church into joint meetings.

After trying to explain their point of view and the incompatible differences between them they felt – after much prayer – that they had no alternative but to leave the group rather than compromise the message they preach.

At the same time as this relationship was coming to an end the pastor of Manor Park Church (an FIEC church) suggested they speak to FIEC. The church is led by pastor Simon Coward and they currently have a membership of 13 adults. They meet in the Worcester Early Years Centre in Manor Farm and regularly distribute leaflets to 11,000 homes. They also run a monthly service at a local care home. They have seen one profession of faith in the last year.

Their reasons for joining FIEC were:

“It will greatly help us to be more involved and informed of the greater UK mission field. It will allow us to be mutually encouraged by other churches. It will help prevent us becoming insular and give some peer review on our church and ministry.”

New Church Plants

Alongside these five new affiliations, FIEC has recognised three new church plants.

Ridgeway Community Church Redditch

Ridgeway Community Church was planted in April 2017 as a result of a church split where biblical ministry was being undermined. It is led by pastor Bill Finnimore and has close informal links with Woodgreen EC, an FIEC church in Worcester. They have 15 regular attenders and are reaching a community of 84,000 people in a place that was identified as having great gospel need in the FIEC “50 places” project.

Their reasons for becoming an FIEC recognised church plant were:

“FIEC best represents the biblical position/understanding. It will give the church a recognisable identity and opportunity to network within FIEC. I believe this will be a good platform on which to establish the church on sound biblical principles, and thereby by lip and life lift up Jesus our Saviour.”

Hope Church Aviemore

Hope Church Aviemore is due to be launched in the coming months. It was established as an initiative of the FIEC Scottish Mission Forum, led by FIEC Scotland Director Andy Hunter. Erik Thomson, a former OMF missionary who now runs a hotel in the town, raised the need for a biblically faithful and outward looking church in the area, which has a population of 11,000.

The church will be led by Kenny Rogan, and is being generously supported by 13 churches across the UK, along with the Avery Baptist Association in North Carolina. The Free Church of Scotland has also been supportive of the new plant.

Their reasons for becoming an FIEC recognised church plant were:

“This is an FIEC supported church plant – with FIEC involvement in planning team. We want a ‘theological anchor’ of affiliation and we share FIEC values, vision and ethos. Would like to progress SCIO set-up (ie. Charitable status) with FIEC help. Share FIEC vision for reaching the nation.”

Kenilworth Community Church

Kenilworth CC is a new church plant in this growing Warwickshire town of 22,000 people. It is a joint initiative of Emmanuel Church Leamington Spa (FIEC) and Myton Church, Warwick. The church started meeting weekly in October 2018 and had around 50 people attending their preceding monthly vision meetings. They have appointed Marco Uliana as full-time member of the core team.

Their reasons for seeking FIEC church plant recognition were:

“The church intends to apply for affiliation to the FIEC and is seeking recognition as a plant as a first step in that process. We are keen to be anchored by the FIEC doctrinal basis and be able to call upon the resources and experience that plant recognition and then affiliation bring.”

Closures and Resignations

Alongside these new affiliations and church plants, four existing churches have closed:

  • Calvary Baptist Church, Liverpool
  • Durrington Free Church, Salisbury
  • Heywood Evangelical Church
  • Widney Evangelical Church, Solihull

King’s Way Community Church, Harwich has also resigned its affiliation to FIEC because it is no longer able to adhere to the FIEC Ethos Statement on “Women in Ministry,” which requires churches to appoint only male pastors and elders.

We are thankful to God for the growth he has granted, meaning that as of this meeting of the National Recognition team there were 605 churches within FIEC. A further 11 churches were affiliated at the NRT meeting in December and we will be reporting on them shortly.

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