God has been incredibly faithful and good to us as a family over the years. Below, you can read more about our journey with him so far as a church, which we hope will stir your faith for the future as well.
Redeemer Church Chester-le-Street launched on Sunday 26th January 2020. However, our story didn’t start there!
As a community, we have been meeting in Chester-le-Street for much longer. We were originally planted out of Emmanuel Church Durham in the summer of 2016, meeting for the first time as Emmanuel Church Chester-le-Street on Sunday 18th September that year.
The Beginning: Emmanuel Church (1980-2016)
Emmanuel Church was founded in 1980, during a time of charismatic renewal worldwide across the church and a strong move of the Holy Spirit. A group of university students in Durham were meeting to pray at this time when one of those students, our great friend David Campbell, felt that God was instructing him to start a church, which he did!
In the years that followed, God continued to grow the church and increase their number, as well as moving powerfully among them by His Spirit. From the very beginning, Emmanuel was a church characterised by baptism in the Spirit, generous giving, and a strong emphasis on building deep relationships – which continues in Redeemer Church to this day!
Over the years Emmanuel Church continued to move location within Durham – meeting in a school, a sixth form centre and even a carpet factory at one point! Led by God however, they eventually settled in their current home in Easter 2009. This followed many miracles and generous giving within the church that allowed them to purchase and convert an old warehouse into a new meeting venue: The Durham Centre.
It was following this move to The Durham Centre, that in 2013 that Ali Scott became an Elder at Emmanuel Church, having spent time with the church as a student and eventually returning to the North East after graduating. Ali would go on to lead the church plant in Chester-le-Street that was to later become Redeemer Church.
In 2014, Emmanuel also joined Regions Beyond, an apostolic community of churches that Redeemer Church is still proud to be a part of today!
(Read more about the Emmanuel Church phase of our journey here)
Emmanuel Church Chester-le-Street (2016-2020)
It was through Regions Beyond that the vision of a church plant in Chester-le-Street was born. At around this time, Mark Jones from City Church Gloucester received a prophetic word for Emmanuel about expanding along the River Wear as a church. Following a lot of prayer and seeking God’s will, a small group was subsequently set up in Chester-le-Street, meeting regularly in the town to pray for it and to worship Jesus together. This small group continued to grow, and increasingly felt God’s heart and will to plant a new church in Chester-le-Street to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the community. Alongside this, Emmanuel continued to plant seeds within Chester-le-Street during their God Loves mission week of outreach, with members of the church taking to the streets to pray for the town, and to share the gospel with those they met.
In 2016, the decision was taken to plant Emmanuel Church Chester-le-Street. A group of incredible people felt God’s call to lead and be involved with this plant, with members of the Chester-le-Street small group being prominent among these – many of whom are still a part of Redeemer Church to this day! This included Matt Cray, who was later to become an Elder in June 2019.
This group volunteered and committed to move both their church community and their lives to the town, believing that God loves the people of Chester-le-Street and wants to make Himself known to them. Thus we began meeting as a community in the town in September 2016.
The following 3 years saw us continuing to grow and mature as a church, with new people being added to our number both from other churches across the North East (and the world!), but also through salvations, and new Christians joining God’s family – and ours! This was a time when God helped us to lay really strong foundations as a church, as we encountered Him powerfully in our Sunday morning meetings, as well as throughout the week in various prayer meetings and small groups which were started.
It also saw us increasingly moving out and making connections with the local community, with our first family Fun Day being held on The Green in 2017 – which was a great success! A number of members of our congregation took the lead in this as well, with the REfUSE Café, Heartwood Skills, Pad B and Heart Remind (amongst others) all being formed and led by members of our church during this period, and helping to transform Chester-le-Street and the lives of people who live here.
A New Journey: Redeemer Church (2020)
In June 2019, the Elders of Emmanuel Church in Durham and Chester-le-Street then felt God speak to them clearly that the time had come to establish Emmanuel Church Chester-le-Street as an independent church, with its own identity and vision statement. This was supported by apostolic and prophetic input, with each congregation of Emmanuel being excited to pursue the specific plans God had for them further, whilst maintaining a close relationship. This paved the way for the launch of Redeemer Church Chester-le-Street as it is today.
The time between this decision being made and our official launch in January 2020 was an exciting one. Amongst all the practicalities that had to be worked out, God was continually faithful and brought us together as a community, giving us excitement and hope for the plans He has for us.
Following a week of prayer and fasting, we were therefore commissioned at a special meeting at Emmanuel Church Durham on 19th January 2020, before relaunching officially as Redeemer Church on Sunday 26th January 2020 – a wonderful day full of praise and celebration
This is our story so far, but we look forward with faith and excitement for the next chapter God has in store for us! Stay tuned for more…