On 23 March, a service was held at Chorlton Evangelical Church, Manchester, to mark the retirement of Walter Johnston, who has served as its pastor for more than 27 years. A number of former members were present, along with friends and pastors from other churches.
The preacher was David Sharp of Irby, who had also spoken at Mr Johnston’s recognition service in October 1985. On that earlier occasion, the weather was noted for its late summer warmth, in contrast to the cold, wintry day of the retirement service.
Mr Sharp preached from Psalm 92:12-15, on the call to be planted in a local church; such makes the believer strong, steadfast and secure. The service included a reflection on the past by church secretary Paul Maylor, who was in membership when Mr Johnston was first called.
In recent times, the church has appointed two elders, Matthew Cox and Richard Clark. Mr Clark gave an account of his experience as a student in the church when he first came to Manchester in the 1990s.
Mr Cox spoke of the nature of Mr Johnston’s pastorate, with four features highlighted: hard work in teaching and example; a belief in the importance of the local church; an emphasis on seriousness in corporate worship; and a Christ-centred approach.
The church in Chorlton was Mr Johnston’s first pastorate. He had previously worked in the printing industry in Liverpool, and studied on the EMW theological training course while he was a member at Hoylake Evangelical Church, Wirral, where Mr Sharp was then pastor.
By the grace of God, the church has been blessed under Pastor Johnston, with clear, faithful teaching and expository preaching. Accounts from when the church was founded in 1930 as Chorlton Christian Fellowship, note the church’s desire to honour the Scriptures, against the background of increasing theological liberalism in other churches in the area.
Mr Johnston will continue in Chorlton as one of the elders in the church, which is now seeking a new pastor.