A village chapel on the brink of closure 16 years ago has appointed a full-time pastor. Mark Fisher, 27-year-old former assistant minister at Heath Evangelical Church, Cardiff, is the first full-time pastor at Hanney Chapel, Oxfordshire, for 60 years. More than 200 people, including a double-decker coach load of 70 from the Heath church, packed Hanney’s War Memorial Hall for Mr Fisher’s induction service, on 15 February. They heard the story of Hanney Chapel’s renewal with the help of Abbey Baptist Church at nearby Abingdon.
Back in 1998 Hanney was down to just two members, Sue Aitken and Margaret Oxley, when they sent a plea for help to Abbey Baptist Church. Chris Richards, an elder at Abbey, said the plea came as the Abbey fellowship was praying concerning whether to plant a church elsewhere in the town. This call to Hanney was the Lord’s answer.
An Abbey elder, Bob Pritchard, was assigned responsibility for the work at Hanney with the support of ten others from the Abbey fellowship. God blessed the work in many ways and eventually Hanney Chapel was reinstated as an independent church two years ago, with 39 members (now 45).
Mr Richards said, ‘I don’t think any of us could possibly have imagined that one day Hanney would be calling a full-time minister. Our God does a lot more than we can imagine’.
Hanney elder, Gunnar Lundqvist, gave an account of how the church decided to issue a unanimous call to Mr Fisher to become pastor. Rev. Wyn Hughes, minister of Heath, said his church would miss Mark and his 22-year-old wife Miriam, who had been church administrator.
He preached on 2 Timothy 4, noting that sinners needed the Word of God, whether in urban Cardiff or rural Oxfordshire. Preaching the Word — preaching Christ — is the priority. He also pointed out that Paul’s letter covers the small details of ministry. Such practical matters must be attended to as, ‘There are many ministers today who are close to burn out because they do not take a regular day off’.
Paul Tench, an elder at the Cardiff church, spoke of Mr Fisher’s gifts as assistant pastor and in open air work and international student and youth work. He said, ‘There are many schools in Cardiff that are going to miss Mark’.
Bob Pritchard, who moved with his wife Gwyn into the village a few years ago, said, ‘It was a wonderful occasion. We are thrilled that the Lord has brought us to this point in the life of the church’.