Crystal Peaks Church (CPC), a plant from Wycliffe Church, Sheffield, was coming up to four years of age and didn’t have two pennies to rub together, let alone £175,000.
But the church suddenly became aware that God was slowly but surely leading us to become established in Beighton village, where a Primitive Methodist church building had come onto the open market.
It was about half a mile away from our rented accommodation and had closed its doors in 2015. Our first convert lived 100m from this Methodist church. We had taken on an allotment in Beighton, had delivered postcards to around 3000 Beighton homes during the summer and were already talking to the Parish church about possibly using their premises on Sunday afternoons.
So, although there had been no strategic plan in our minds, we saw God’s hand clearly in our interest in Beighton. But we simply didn’t have the funds. As members of the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches (EFCC), the obvious thing was to see if any funds were available, or, failing that, some kind of low interest loan.
Imagine our surprise when our initial request was met with an offer to consider purchasing the building for us! After two key surveys, a number of site meetings, innumerable e-mails and a visit from EFCC trustees, our sealed bid was deposited with the agents the week before Christmas. To our delight, our bid was accepted and, as soon as the holidays ended, the contractual work began.
During our initial contact with the Methodist circuit office, we had agreed the principle of renting the church, if our offer was accepted. This meant we had three days to move our PA equipment and church paraphernalia out of existing accommodation in the local library, get it set up or stored away in the church, then get spruced up ready for the first Sunday service there — on Christmas day. It was an occasion that none present will ever forget!
Then, at noon on Monday 15 May 2017, contracts were completed and the building became the property of EFCC. Texts and emails were met with electronic whoops of delight! God is, indeed, a faithful and good God.
For the next two years, CPC will use the premises as a licensee of the EFCC Trust Corporation, who are now legal owners of the building. During this time, there will be discussions between CPC and EFCC about the best future arrangements, with the ultimate aim of CPC owning its own premises in fellowship with EFCC.
Already we have discovered the joys of worshipping in the centre of a long-established community. Several visitors from the area have told us of the days when they attended Sunday school in our building as a child. One lady was a Sunday school gala queen back in the 1970s, and two elderly Methodists have already booked their funerals. The challenge is to find ways to bridge such contacts and take them to Jesus.
The local primary school has welcomed us with opened arms and, when an occasional assembly was suggested, asked why it couldn’t be once a week.
At the start of April, our first pastor took up the reins. Martin Daniels has been with us since the plant started in January 2013 and, during the rest of this year, will reduce his commitment to his own local business, so that by January 2018 he will be in full-time pastoral service.
In addition, over the weekend of 6/7 May — one week ahead of the sale being finalised — CPC celebrated with a number of community events and a thanksgiving service. It appears that 2017/18 will be a busy time at CPC, as we look to God to guide us in establishing an outpost of God’s kingdom in Beighton.