Church Anniversary - 30 years
On 11th June we celebrated 30 years since the founding of this local church. North Preston Evangelical Church was established in 1987 by a group of Christians who had a vision for a reformed evangelical church in the North West of Preston, which was an area without such a church.
Our guest preacher for the Anniversary was Keith Underhill, who spoke from 2 Thessalonians 3 in the morning and from Galatians 1 in the evening. It was a day when we were able to renew fellowship with some old friends who visited for the day, and also to remind ourselves of God’s goodness to us as a church and as individuals over many years.
Our congregation consists of a good number of people of all ages. We are blessed with several families with young children, as well as some young people and adults.
A significant anniversary such as this is an opportunity to look back, and remember God’s goodness to us, and to remember with thankfulness those who have been a part of the fellowship in the past, and have moved on to other areas of service. It is also an opportunity to remember those individuals and families who, over the years, have come among us as children, or young adults, and who have grown spiritually, and have gone on to serve the Lord in other areas. Some have gone into full time service, either as Pastors, or as Christian workers in other roles. Also we can remember with thankfulness to God those who have been part of this church, and have since gone to Glory, and are now in the Saviour’s presence. Many of us can remember times of fellowship, when we were able to learn from our older brothers and sisters in Christ
Personally, it was a joy to me t look back through the records, and to be encouraged at the way God led us, not only in good times, but also used difficult times to strengthen us individually, and as a church. Here is a quick summary of the highlights of these 30 years:-
Initially, there was a growing awareness of the need for a reformed Baptist church in the area. A meeting was held for all those interested to hear and understand what was proposed. From that group, those who were willing to commit together to the work of the Gospel, the initial membership was formed.
The first Sunday morning service was held on 6th September 1987, attended by 23 people, including 4 children. The preacher for that service was John Palmer, who at that time was Pastor of Parbold Evangelical Church, one of several local churches who were a great help to us in the early years of the church’s life. There was a great sense of peace at that service, as we enjoyed being able to worship God reverently, and yet with heart-felt joy that God had opened the way for us to join together as a local church; not only worshipping, but bringing the gospel to the surrounding area.
A priority was to draw up a statement of faith; so that we were all clear about what the church stands for. A constitution was drawn up, and those who were committed to the new church all signed a declaration committing themselves to the statement of faith and constitution. Having a statement of faith was important, as it enabled us to state clearly that we were Christians who believed completely in the authority and infallibility of the Bible as God’s word to all men.
At our first church meeting we all committed ourselves together to form the church, on the basis of the Statement of Faith.
In the first two years we were almost wholly dependent on visiting preachers. This was a source of very strong fellowship with the churches from where those men came. Mostly they were from around the North West, with a few coming from further afield. We still have happy memories of times of fellowship when we were able to meet up with some of those churches, and to encourage one another.
Our agreed priority for the early years of the church was to have a settled pastorate. We were convinced that this was more important than having a building. There was a strong sense of unity within the church as we sought God’s guidance as to the man of his choosing for us. In September 1989 David White moved to Preston with his family to become our first Pastor, and had a blessed and fruitful ministry for many years.
Although our priority was to have a Pastor, we were very aware of the limitations of being dependant on the school for our main services, even though we had a good relationship with the school. In God’s time, we have been able to have both a Pastor and a building. Our church building was completed in May 1996. Many friends from other churches joined us for the official opening, and our first Sunday services in the new building were a time of great thankfulness to God. We have always been committed to the truth that a biblical church is a group of Christian people, not a building. However, having our own building enabled us to continue and expand our activities to bring the Gospel to the surrounding area, and also further afield.
Looking back over these 30 years, we can clearly see God’s hand at work in so much of what happened. We didn’t do everything perfectly, but God has blessed what we have endeavoured to do in his name. Most importantly, we have seen people becoming Christians, and professing their faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour. We look forward to many more years serving Christ and proclaiming the Gospel in this part of Preston.