The St Georges Team: Nina Thurlow; Rob Barstow; Rich Grant; Jon Saddler; Curtis Bhatoe (Picture: Keith Blundy)

A Church planted in 2016 is showing excellent signs of growth. Six Months after it was formerly launched as a plant Church, St George’s Gateshead in the Diocese of Durham a joint venture between the Diocese and Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) is sprouting with new life and flourishing with congregations that regularly top 100 people.

The team led by the Revd Rich Grant, all moved to Gateshead and planted themselves in order to bring a new style of Church to its people and communities, building on an existing small congregation who have supported and joined in. St George’s offers a style of worship that is both contemporary and progressive, styled on the experiences of HTB plants made in various locations in the South East, Birmingham, and Lincoln, they all share a vision of ‘Playing a part in the evangelisation of the nations, the revitalisation of the church and the transformation of society’.

Rich and Wife Louisa came from St Thomas Crookes church in Sheffield to Gateshead and brought with them both a team and also a ready made congregation in order to plant the church. Each has changed lives, careers and homes in order to make the plant happen.

The St George’s team are: Rich and Louise Grant; Curtis Bhatoe (Communications and Publicity); Nina Thurlow – (Operations Manager); Jon Saddler – (Worship Pastor) who all came from Sheffield and Rob Barstow (General Support worker, running Alpha courses and is training for ordination) who was part of an HTB project in Malaysia. Each team member has moved with their spouses to Gateshead after being approached by Rich to consider the move as part of their calling.

Nina said: “Both my Husband and I both separate had a clear word from God that he would have something new for us which was very specific about September 2016. So when Rich came to us and told us about what was going to happen here and invited us to think about whether we would like to join him and Louisa, we just knew instantly that was what God was calling us to and we were really excited – and here we are!”.

Rob who was working in Malaysia in an HTB related Church, whilst his Wife was working for a large company there said: “We were coming to the end of our time there and I needed to go and train to be a Vicar and so we were weren’t really sure what to do until Rich approached us to consider coming here and help plant a church. We said yes, and I am part time here and part time training for ordination at Cranmer Hall in Durham.”

Rich said: “This season of Lent is about new beginnings and I guess we are a new beginning as a recently planted church. But is much more than that – our situation relates to Lent because we want to see God do is to call out life and we always talk about two words ‘Come Alive’ and our calling and vision here is to call out life in the people that live here – that means new life in our society, but we also like to see people become Christians and experience the new life of Jesus; but also see new life in the Church.

“We achieve this through the services that we do – that are tailored to the audience, for instance we have two services on a Sunday – focused on different parts of the community, we have services for Children, for Newcastle and Gateshead Students, for Families most of which are new to church – they were looking for church but couldn’t find what they were looking for – they have found it here at St George’s“.

“Outside of services, we run outreach meetings and events for various groups, here and out in the community as well as running a weekly Alpha course.

“We are going out into the community – praying with it and for it; and becoming part of the life of the community.”

The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham said: “The early months of St George’s have been very encouraging. My own visits have shown me that this plant is inspirational. They have gone a long way in establishing a firmly based all-age congregation on Sunday mornings and one geared to young adults in the evening.

 

St George’s is committed to serving the local community well, so it is wonderful to see a new Parent and Toddler group opening. I am confident that in God’s strength St George’s will continue to grow”.