Two Wigan churches, Jireh Baptist Church and Pemberton Evangelical Church (EC), joined together to become Pemberton Free Grace Church on 15 September 2018, following two years of discussions and planning.
Former members of both churches, who are now members of the new church, were joined in the celebrations by friends and supporters, mostly from fellow churches of the West Lancashire Reformed Baptist Fellowship.
Pastor Jon Davies of Cromer Baptist Church, a long-time friend of Jireh Baptist, brought the Word of God from 2 Peter 1. Matthew Gray, formerly pastor of Jireh and now pastor of the new church, led the service, welcoming everyone. Jim Mollitt, elder of the new church and previously elder of Pemberton EC, explained how the merger came about.
Peter Day, overseeing elder at Jireh for many years, and who played a significant part in encouraging members during the merger discussions, prayed for the new elders and deacons. Pastor John Palmer of Bethany EC, Leigh, also led the congregation in prayer, sharing that he had been praying for the two churches to come together since the 1980s, a vision that was shared by several other local pastors.
A visitor who arrived on an impressive motorbike for the Sunday evening service turned out to be a Christian looking for a new church. The church took it as a sign that they are walking in God’s way by going forward together.
Long-term, Pemberton Free Grace Church plans to move all activities onto one site, either by extending and improving an existing building or by moving to new premises altogether.