[This was a presentation given by the present Pastor at the 80th Anniversary weekend in 2011]

History - New Life Fellowship Hartlepool

2011 marked the 80th Anniversary of a Pentecostal Church in Hartlepool; the church we now call New Life Fellowship. So let’s go back in time to the beginning. 

Not just to 1931 or even to 1930 but as far back as 1927. It was in 1927 that a group of believers from Tower Street Baptist Church started to attend a series of meetings held in Sunderland by an Evangelist called Stephen Jeffries. One young person at the time remembers queuing up to get in to the church; a rare sight nowadays.

 Stephen Jeffries was preaching about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and how the Holy Spirit can give power to help in the Christian journey. So interested were this group of people that they travelled to several different places to hear more on this matter. They went to Sunderland, Newcastle and Darlington and then in September 1928 one of the group received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. 

As time went on it became evident to this group that if they wanted to enjoy the same type of meeting that they had been travelling the North East for, they needed to step out from the Baptists. Firstly, the group met every Friday evening in a house owned by Miss Coshott; 70 Grosvenor street. These meetings were led by a man called Bobby Smith.

These meetings continued until 15th March 1931 when the group left Tower Street Baptist Church to start out on their own. The group consisted of Mr Thomas Loynes and his wife Dora, their son Thomas Jnr and their daughter May together with Miss Coshott and Mrs Feather and several others who have not been named in the records. Included in the group was the 7 year old daughter of Thomas and Dora, one Joan Loynes. 

The group rented what was then called the Charleston Hall in Park Road just round the corner from where we are now. Here the group arranged for a Campaign to be held and this was conducted by Pastor Entwistle from Sunderland assisted by a 19 year old called Jimmy Hannah. During this campaign a special young people’s campaign was held in the Dalton Rooms, just round the other corner from here, and this campaign was conducted by Jimmy Hannah on his own. It was during this campaign that a young man called Tom Orley was converted. We will hear more about him later.

 On 4th July 1931 the Charleston Hall was re-named the Hebron Gospel Hall; the Pentecostal Church was born. 
In August 1932 notice was given to leave the Hebron Gospel Hall and the church moved to a house owned by Miss Coshott in Rium Terrace. The house was altered by removing a middle wall so that the downstairs space was sufficient for the purpose and was duly registered as a Place of Worship. It was officially opened on 27th August 1932 by Pastor Entwistle

.In September 1932 it was decided to apply for fellowship with the Assemblies of God and we continue to be in fellowship with them to this day. 

1933 saw the arrival of a young man direct from Bible School called Sydney Dyson (not the vacuum cleaner man). Mr Dyson was asked in May 1933 to become the church’s first Pastor; a position he held until May the following year. 

It was during our time in Rium Terrace that the first opposition came. Neighbours in Rium Terrace set up a petition to stop the work. The news reached the national Newspapers being mentioned in the Daily Mail and the Sunday Dispatch. The petition was sent to the town’s MP, Howard Gritton. Headlines of; 

  •  Stamping denied 
  •  Hot gospellers too fervent 
  •  Too fervent for neighbours 
  •  “Nervous wreck from noise” 

While some neighbours complained, one lady who lived in the rooms above the mission said, “Lying here on a bed of sickness, the singing does me good.” Another neighbour said, “There are wild scenes of apparent religious fervour. Clapping of hands, shouting and singing go on until 9.30 every night. Occasionally there is a thud as though someone has fallen in a faint.” 

These newspaper articles had a serious effect on the mission as by the end of 1932 Membership had grown to over 50 people. 

By 1936 we had outgrown Rium Terrace and we were encouraged to buy what had been the Osborne Road Boys School. This purchase was achieved through a loan by Miss Coshott and we moved in to the new building on 12th September 1936. The opening of the hall was conducted by Clyde Young. 

1937 saw the arrival of another pastor in Trevor Williams who stayed with us for over 4 years

1938 saw the death of Mrs Feather one of the founder members.

1939 saw the outbreak of World War II and it is recorded in the Minutes of the church that on 3rd September 1939 the members agreed to allow the back room of the new church building to be used as an Air Raid Warden’s Post. My mum told me that there was very little disturbance to meetings during the war years. 

By March 1945, 13 ½ years since we were founded, we had seen 8 different pastors with two of them holding the post on two occasions. The longest serving pastor at that time had held the position for 4 ½ years but things were about to change. 
For the first time we were about to appoint a pastor from within our own people; this has only been achieved on two occasions in our history. Tom Orley, the young man who had been converted in the Campaign in the Dalton Rooms in 1936; who had been appointed a Deacon in 1939 and appointed as an Elder in 1941 was asked to take over as pastor in March 1945, and thankfully he said yes. 

During the war years we had seen Miss Coshott leave to move to Keighley and the only founder members still left were the members of the Loynes family. The war ended and things started to get back to normal; well as normal as things are in a Pentecostal Church. 

In 1949 we had the first of many campaigns by Henry Shave; a young evangelist who had been leading the worship at Scarborough Camp; a popular summer holiday vacation for some of the church’s young people. Mr Shave became a regular visitor and with his brand of lively piano playing, chorus singing and Gospel message he quickly became a good friend of the church. 

August 5th 1950 saw the first wedding to take place at the church. Joseph Dixon Proud and Miss Joan Loynes (the daughter of Thomas Loynes) were married and the photographs, courtesy of Holdsworth’s, were taken at the rear of the building. Just to show how popular Scarborough Camp was as a summer holiday centre this was where the newly weds went for their honeymoon and Mr Shave let everyone in the camp know this fact by announcing it on the tannoy. 

In 1952 the church received the power; we saw the light. Yes in 1952 electric lighting was installed in the building; we could see each other far better now. 

Lots of different things happened during Tom Orley’s time here as pastor; far too many to recount in such a short time. One particular memory that does come to mind, and is recorded in the Minutes, is the opening of a branch work in Old Hartlepool; not far from where the bus terminus is now. This was in 1961 but sadly it did not last long. 

Pastor Orley would ride a bicycle when visiting his members but, as many people who knew him at the time would confirm, when riding his bike he was in a different world. Even his son shouted to him one day as he rode past and was totally ignored. Pastor Orley would probably say that he was in prayer; well he was certainly not with us. 

Much work was done to the existing building and in 1963 a false ceiling was added to improve the heating. The electric heaters were expensive to run and most of the heat went straight up. It was not so bad if you were over 6 foot tall as you were nearer the heat but for smaller people it was not much use. 

In 1964 Pastor Orley announced that he was to leave Hartlepool to take over as Pastor at Redcar. To many people then the only Pastor they had known had been pastor Orley who by this time had been with us for over 19 years. This was the longest any pastor had ever stayed and this is still the case. 

On 21st March 1964, a young man from Bible College, Head Boy I may add, came to Hartlepool to ‘preach with a view’. This term was used for anyone who visited a church, preached and then waited to see if the members liked them or not. You could say it is the church’s equivalent of a job interview. 

Pastor John Bromley, started here on 26th May 1964. He stayed only 4 years but when he left, he left a changed man. He was married while he was here and their daughter Sharon was also born in Hartlepool and dedicated here on September 4th 1966. 

While pastor Bromley was here a branch children’s work was opened in Owton Manor School in 1965. It quickly became popular with the local children. Our own young people looked after this work. From this children’s work, the teenagers were encouraged to come to church and several did travel from Owton Manor to attend the Sunday Service. The longest survivor from this is Veronica, my wife. The children’s work continued in Owton Manor under several different leaderships until well into the 1990’s. 

One remarkable memory of Pastor Bromley’s time here was a church holiday to Richmond Camp; a campsite owned by Mr Carter of the Richmond Church. We stayed in caravans and had the luxury of eating and holding our meetings in the ‘piggery!’ It was not unusual to see the occasional water rat scuttling by or to hear of people falling into the stream as they went to the public toilets during the night armed only with a torch. Ah, those were the days! 

In 1968 Pastor Bromley felt called to move to Hinckley and after a short period without a pastor we appointed Pastor Ken Mogford to the position in October 1969. During Pastor Mogford’s time here the youth went to our first dedicated AOG Youth Camp held in Llandovery College. This was a fantastic time for the young people and the leaders, but certainly more work for the leaders than the young people. It was so enjoyable that we went to three camps in successive years. We have photographs of these camps and you will see how dedicated and trustworthy the young people were by the clothing we managed to get them to wear when they performed in front of the rest of the youth camp. 

Also during pastor Mogford, the Sunday Schools entered the AOG Northumbria Region Sunday School competition and we won the Shield. 

After 8 years or so Pastor Mogford left to take on the work in Worksop and we again went through a period without a pastor, until in November 1978 we appointed Steven Wright to the role. During Pastor Wright’s time here the name of the church was changed to New Life Fellowship. 

Owing to family problems Pastor Wright left us in 1986 and we began our longest period without a pastor; over two years. Eventually the District Chairman and Secretary came to see the church to help in appointing a new pastor. Much discussion took place where the assembly said the type of person they thought they needed and the two District representatives left promising to contact us when a suitable man was found. 

The next day, the District secretary contacted our church secretary to say that on his way home the previous night he had felt called by God to leave his present church and take over at Hartlepool. And so in July 1988 David Russon accepted the position of pastor here in Hartlepool, and moved just down the road from his existing church in Horden. 

David brought his family with him obviously and his son Chris was and still is a wonderful keyboard player and worship leader and the church moved forward again especially in our worship. One specific memory of David’s early time here was when we had four branch works; in Owton Manor, Seaton Carew, Central Estate and West View; each with its own leaders. One Sunday evening in every month was spent at these venues and where there were five Sundays in the month the fifth evening was spent in the church building. 

For a year these meetings were held and although no decisions were made by people from these areas the ‘wandering’ had an effect on our existing people; it brought us closer together and showed the leader that we were prepared to follow him. 

1989 brought a new Youth work called Adventurers.

In March 1994 it was decided to move from the premises we had occupied for 56 years and move across the road to a bigger hall which many times had been used for the tea served between Anniversary meetings. Osborne Hall became our new home but as we see from these pictures there was much work to be done. More work than expected was actually needed when one chap decided to remove some wiring from the top of the wall panel only to find that it seemed to be keeping the panelling up. Modesty prevents me from saying who that was…but it certainly was not Bob the builder.

 And so we had a new home, purchased with a mortgage from Property Trust. It was not long after the move that the Liberal Democrat Party came and asked if they could buy our old hall from us; our debts were wiped out. 

Early this century David and Madeline became more involved in World Missions visiting missionaries all over the world and it was in March 2006 that David left New Life Fellowship to take up the post of World Missions Director for Assemblies of God. David had been here for almost 18 years and again we were left without a pastor. 

Just as David left we were faced with major building work to repair the roof and the side wall. We had to close the building for three months and met in people’s houses; mostly Peggy’s. Finally we managed to get back into the building and we were back home; still without a pastor. 

And so we are nearly up to date; except that in 2007 the Church Council decided we needed a pastor again and in August 2007 I accepted the role; a role I am honoured to be in today. This was the second occasion that we were able to recruit from within. 

The church is 80 years old and I have been here for almost 60 of those years. I have seen many wonderful things happen in that time and I know that were it not for people like those who have been part of this church during some of these 80 years it would probably still not be alive today. Those nine or ten founder members started this story but it needs other people to keep it going and to all who have played a part, whether it is a big or small part let me say ‘Thank you’; but don’t give up on us now, we need you more than ever! 

Happy Anniversary New Life Fellowship; may God continue to lead you along His path and that you see great fruit for your labours. 

Pastor Bob Proud


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