Soon after finishing our new building at Holmgate I was lobbied by Walton members about a Church plant there. Wendy Roberts was the most troublesome! I had barely recovered and was being asked to do it all again. Pastor of two Churches, overseeing three Conference Centres and on the FIEC Council with its Committee work while building again – how crazy was that?
However it was a strategic opportunity. Eight families lived in Chesterfield (mostly Walton). Holmgate was built to seat 150, but we were regularly 175. Being able to support two Assistant Pastors and a succession of Careforce Workers, with the Conference Centres funding secretarial assistance, made it possible. FIEC gave us £120,000 from the sale of a closed Church. Add in a consistently committed congregational contingent of a hundred volunteers from Holmgate and Walton, with many very skilled people, all recorded in the history.
Two crucial contributions: Mervyn Bray brought a wide range of experience to the project, overseeing work on foundations, setting out, drainage and steel erection and travelling from Derby. What about our need for an architect to design the building, submit plans and oversee the work in more detail than normally required because there was no contractor – just me, an amateur Clerk of Works? David Botham was our hero with a huge involvement including sacrificing endless lunch hours to sort out problems all without charging a fee, just as Bob Crabb had done for Holmgate. Both were members of other Churches and we thank God for them. What a fitting climax on the Sunday of our opening weekend after the evening service, when David conducted the Chesterfield Mission Choir to conclude our celebration.
The building enabled us to develop our ministry. The 50-60 who met in the Village Hall soon grew to 90 and I handed over to Chris Kelly in January 1990. The Church continued to grow significantly with many becoming Christians and I echo Chris Kelly’s sentiment in his contribution – those early years were encouraging and blessed times of spiritual and practical progress.