Saturday Gathering, the Fresh Expressions church run by Christians Together in Calderdale, welcomed a special visitor to its worship on Saturday.
Bishop Tony Robinson, the Area Bishop for Wakefield and acting interim bishop for the Huddersfield Episcopal Area came to confirm in faith seven of the members.
The seven made their promises before their friends, before Bishop Tony and before God. During the service each of them also gave their testimony of how God had changed their lives around.
Bishop Tony said: “It is truly a privilege to hear these people’s stories and share their testimonies.
“You can feel the Holy Spirit at work among those people who came forward to commit their lives to Jesus,” he said.
Called the Saturday Gathering, these new disciples have come to faith through the Halifax Food and Support Drop - run by Christians Together in Calderdale – which has been providing food and toiletries parcels and prayer support to the most needy and vulnerable for the last five years.
The Saturday Gathering is one example of a fresh expression of church in our new diocese, as Linda Maslen, a lay leader there who worships at All Saints, Halifax, explains. “More and more of those who used the Drop In were asking for prayer and when they saw their prayers answered, they began to come into a relationship with God and wanted somewhere to worship,” said Linda.
But Linda said fitting in to existing congregations in existing churches was not always easy for these newcomers and it made her realise that they had to do something different. “So Saturday Gathering was born 20 months ago,” explained Linda who is in the second year of (part-time) ordination training with the Yorkshire Ministry Course at Mirfield.
“It takes place in the same venue as the Drop-in at Ebenezer from 7pm-9pm on Saturday evenings when everyone has a meal together, share stories from the Bible or use DVDs to prompt discussion, and pray and sing.
Said Linda: “God has done so much in our time together; we’ve seen chaotic lives changed, addictions broken and relationships healed. We started with 12 people and now have about 60. Some people move on into more traditional fellowships and we encourage that, but others very much see Saturday Gathering as their “church” – though that was something we struggled with for some time.
“For the first nine months of the Saturday Gatherings we said, ‘We are not a church, we are a gathering’ but it was developing at such a pace that we had to seriously consider whether we were a missional community, a fresh expression of church or something else entirely! “ But our community had already decided for us because they were referring to Saturday Gathering as church,” she said.
Numbers continue to grow. More families are coming to the Drop-in and to Saturday Gathering. Last September they launched a Family Gathering to support the children that come to the Drop-in which has secured funding from the local authority and runs at the same time as the Drop-in on a Saturday morning.
Bishop Tony led nineteen baptisms there earlier this year. As Jeff Heaton, of churches together in Calderdale said: “These confirmations are a clear sign that members of this congregation are growing in faith and discipleship and taking their belief in Christ forward to a new level.”
You can find out more about the Saturday Gathering on the Fresh Expressions website.