Dear Pastors & Praying Friends,
In the early 1840s, a man named Arthur Augustus Rees was effectively driven out of the Anglican church in Sunderland for preaching the Word of God too vigorously and seeking to win souls too earnestly. Following the Lord’s leading, he built Bethesda Chapel in Sunderland, a church to which all were invited to attend freely.
As he studied the Word of God, Rees came to believe Baptist principles and asked George Muller from Bristol to come and immerse him.
Throughout the forty-year ministry of Rees (1844-1884), God blessed with hundreds being converted, missionaries being sent out, and other outreach missions being started.
Rees developed deep friendships with men such as Charles Spurgeon, F.B. Meyer and D.L. Moody. He was actually the one who coined the phrase: “Moody will preach the gospel, Sankey will sing the gospel,” for their evangelistic campaigns.
After the death of Rees, other notable men pastored the church including F.E. Marsh, Graham Scroggie, and Sidlow Baxter. The church was also blessed to have the likes of Hudson Taylor, Gladys Alyward, Richard Wurmbrand, J.D. Pentecost, D.M. Lloyd-Jones, J. Phillips, and Mrs C.T. Studd preach and testify in the church.
In time, the church entered a period of decline numerically and theologically. In 2008, God led the church to call as their pastor, Stephen Boreland, a godly Baptist pastor from Northern Ireland.
Under his ministry, the Lord has blessed with a renewed commitment to sound teaching and evangelistic outreach. More and more young people are attending the church, and the future is looking much brighter for the church.
I tell you this story because it is a great example of what needs to happen in many churches across the UK. I am privileged to be closely associated with the church in Sunderland. Pastor Boreland is a good friend, as is his associate pastor, Alan Campbell.
Darci and I recently travelled up to speak for their youth weekend, and it was so encouraging to see what God is doing and how He is revitalising a declining church that has such a great history.
Thank you for praying for us as we seek to plant churches and revitalise declining churches across this great country.
– Travis & Teri Snode