The Christian world is a small one and so every so often you find that a friend from one context has made a connection with another friend leading to Gospel partnership. Here is one fantastic example leading to an urban church plant in Rochdale.
I met Stephen Watkinson at Oak Hill Theological College. Stephen was training as an Anglican ordinand and I was an independent student. Stephen headed off afterwards as a curate and then a vicar in the North West. As well as following each other’s blogs, we tend to catch up regularly at Keswick.
Over the past few years, I’ve started to get to know Steve Kneale well. We first made contact via twitter -and as is often the way, a few minor debates and disagreements led to more detailed email and phone conversation. There may be things we disagree about when it comes to blogs and twitter but there is so much more we have in common theologically in our shared faith in Christ Jesus. Steve has written openly and courageously about his battle with depression and so when the black dog visited me last year I found that he was among those who has been a great and consistent support throughout the year.
Steve pastors a church in Oldham and so unsurprisingly as fellow conservative evangelicals, he made connections with Stephen W, an independent and an Anglican with a common cause. Stephen W has now left the Anglican Church for reasons he has set out on Steve K’s blog. This has led to Gospel partnership between the two Stephens because the North West desperately needs Gospel churches.
Together, they have gathered a small core team and raised a year’s worth of support towards a church plant in Rochdale, one of the large towns that make up the Greater Manchester area and one of those places where there is very little going on in terms of Gospel work. A new church, Rochdale Evangelical Church will launch on the 10th January 2021. You can find out more via their website Contact – Rochdale Evangelical Church You can also read more of the story, reasons behind the plant and needs via Steve Kneale’s blog
A new, pioneer church plant like this is going to need a lot of support over the coming years, not just as a short-time exercise but as a long term partnership. Could you and your church partner with them by
- Praying Regularly for them
- Supporting them financially
- Sending people to join the team.
I’m sure that the two Stephen’s will greatly appreciate hearing from people who might want to partner in this way.