Recently I learned about a relatively new church plant of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales in Sheffield, Leeds, and Manchester. The pastor is the Rev. Dr. Kevin Bidwell. In addition to the work in Sheffield, they are also actively working toward planting congregations in Manchester, Leeds, and Berlin. If you know someone in these cities who might is looking for a congregation, please have them contact Kevin (see below). There is a great need for gospel preaching in England and Wales. Please pray for God’s blessing on the ministry of the EPCEW.
1. Please tell us about yourself, how you came to be a minister in the EPCEW, and your current congregation. (I’ll use this for the introduction)
After completing a PhD in systematics with Dr Bob Letham as my supervisor, a door opened for me to serve in church planting with EPCEW (Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales). The opportunities among confessional Presbyterians in England are small and it became apparent that the planting of a confessional church, has to be part of a long-term strategy for the further recovering of the Reformed faith in England. The current congregation where I serve is Sheffield Presbyterian Church. Church planting studies began in the beginning of 2010, I was installed and ordained in 2011 and the church was constituted in the same year. We have around 50 members, it continues to grow and we are currently purchasing and developing our own building.
2. There are plans to plant EPC congregations in Manchester and Leeds. How did these opportunities come about?
Sheffield is the fifth largest city in the UK. Leeds is number 4, but Greater Manchester is probably the largest urban hub outside of London with around 2.5–2.8 million people. Our vision among the elders in the Northern England churches of our denomination has been to plant new churches in all cities and towns in the North. Since Sheffield began we have had people travelling to us from the Manchester area. We are now moving ahead with regular church planting studies in Manchester and now church planting prayer meetings in Leeds.
3. Why is it so important to plant congregations in these cities?
We have a dual aim. To evangelise the lost because England is undoubtedly a mission field and this is the whole nation, not least the large cities in our nation. Secondly, we need to evangelise the church regarding the good news of a historic understanding of Reformed ecclesiology. Furthermore our denomination has no Presbyterian presence in either city and Leeds has no evangelical Presbyterian presence of any kind.
4. Why is it important to plant confessional Reformed congregations?
5. What are the particular challenges you face with these new works?
Three things, all of which begin with “M:” Money, Manpower and Momentum.
6. What sort of response are you getting?
The response is steady because our model is an organic model for growth. We begin with a church planting study to lay down the important doctrinal fundamentals, but while we cover the statements of Reformed Confessions and Catechisms, we are also careful to ensure that people see the biblical basis of our ideas. Reforming the church and also in reforming peoples lives, indeed takes time and patience. We do not set artificial timelines but we bathe everything in prayer. We are confident, as elders, that the Lord is opening the door in Manchester and Leeds and we move forwards one step at a time with faith, courage, boldness, dependence on the Lord and much prayer.
7. How can Heidelblog readers help?
Heidelblog readers could advertise about this work in Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds, especially if they know of people in the North of England, to get them to contact us. They can of course pray and we are beginning to engage in fund-raising because at some stage we will need to call men as ministers.
8. Where can readers learn about the work and how can they contact you?