The following is an update from Bill Schweitzer, pastor of Gateshead Presbyterian Church (England). Please continue to be in prayer for the many men and ladies who the Lord has used to begin movments in His lands. Dr. Schweitzer previously provided an introduction during TLF this year which can be found here.
Glad to update everyone on the work here.
Gateshead Presbyterian Church (www.gatesheadpres.org) has been blessed by God in many ways. We have averaged in the mid-50s the last few months, which although very modest by US standards is now a little more after 7 months than any of the previous MTW-planted EPCEW churches to date (after 16, 8, and 4 years respectively, although none were daughter plants like Gateshead.) But even better is the spirit of our worship services, which seems to carry on the love and joy combined with reverence and attentiveness to the means of grace that has always marked our mother church, Durham Presbyterian Church (DPC). We even have a soon-to-be baptized man who is organizing a Calvin’s Institutes reading group. So please join with me in praising God for these things, and asking that the God of peace would soon crush Satan under our feet (Rom 16:20).
As for the larger picture, I am frequently encouraged by the faith of my fellow ministers here in the EPCEW (Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales.) But if you were to ask me what is the most disappointing thing I have seen here, I would mention how we have failed to enable English Presbyterian ministers to plant churches with the EPCEW. In recent years, we have seen a number of good men who wanted to work in this denomination but there was no way of funding them. Most had families to support and had to go elsewhere, some of whom now minister in the USA. Exporting ministers from a 2% evangelical, 1 WCF church per 3 million country to a 26% evangelical, 1 WCF church per 150,000 nation is, as they say, not sustainable. Because of such things, the combined session of DPC and GPC has recently decided to begin a Northern England Church Planting Fund that would allow American churches to help ordained British nationals plant churches in the north of England. We already have a couple of called and trained men we are in contact along these lines. Please get in contact if you would like to get involved with this effort.
I definitely plan to be back for next year’s TLF. It looks like we (Pam and our five children as well) will also be back for a three-month visit in the Fall of 2010, so keep us in mind is your church might want to have us around during that time. Thanks very much for your prayers and support.
Dr Bill Schweitzer
Gateshead Presbyterian Church
Ravensworth Park Estate
I trust to be able to get in touch a few others who can give updates on their church planting and continue to update as the year progresses.