Back in the swirling mists of time, in the 1980s, Shaftesbury Christian Centre (now Fathers House, Shaftesbury) was experiencing a time of growth and expansion. The pastor, Clive Jackson, began planting new churches in parts of Somerset. At the same time, three families from Dorchester approached Clive and asked him if he would consider planting a church in Dorchester. For a year or more Clive and a small team travelled to Dorchester on a weekday evening to conduct a meeting in Hardye’s School. This was attended by a number of people from Dorchester and Weymouth who were looking for “more”.
After a period of asking God to show the way forward, it was decided that the fledgeling group would look for somewhere to rent to hold meetings in Weymouth and that meetings would start on Sunday mornings. Under the name of New Covenant Church Weymouth the church was launched. In the old gymnasium at Weymouth College, now a housing development, the first Sunday meeting was held in June 1986.
...a couple of mysteries
The church was very much a family, with toddlers crawling on blankets at the back of the hall. We were mostly young families with the oldest member in his 50s. Suspicion from the religious community was high; growth was slow. The newspaper printed an article linking us to a cult from America which did not help our reputation. It remains a mystery why God choses those he does, or commissions us with his great work. It is also a great mystery how he sustains us and keeps us on task through good times and bad.
In the early days we were full of expectation. We loved God with a passion (we still do); we prayed and waited for an explosion of God’s power to hit us, transforming the whole community of Weymouth…still praying!
...a bit of now,
30 years on, we are all older (30 years older, to be exact) and maybe a little wiser (we hope), but we haven’t changed so much. We still are still captivated by the mind-boggling love of God the Father expressed in Jesus. We sense it in our hearts because of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. We still believe in the bold daring possibilities of lives lived in faith. We still build our lives on the promises we find in the bible; we still believe that because of these promises we can change the world!
We still have a strong connection with Fathers House in Shaftesbury, we still enjoy the relationship with Clive as a spiritual father. We have come to enjoy a huge network of relationships with congregations and leaders across Weymouth, Portland, South Dorset and indeed, the world, but there is a unique relationship with Clive from Shaftesbury and Paul Wakely from Fathers House Bath. These are those spiritual connections which Paul the Apostle talks of in Ephesians which supply life to us. They are apostolic servants of God who are a massive help in terms of wise counsel and accountability.
In the 30 years the family of the Prayerhouse has been in existence, God has given us special connections which defy geography. For example, he opened the door for friendships in Northern Ireland which have served his purpose again and again, in really surprising ways for 20 years. He has given us special relationships in many different countries, and sent people to be spiritual sons and daughters from different continents. We don’t understand his ways or his economy, but we love what he has done and what he is doing.
...and a bit of vision
We see that God the Father is releasing his sons and daughters into the earth to give away the love and healing that they have received from him. We are not selling snake oil, or the latest good idea, we are giving away something we have freely received. God continues to pour his love into our lives, so we continue to give it away. Our vision is to keep introducing people to his love so that they may experience his healing power so that they, in turn, become part of his army of lovers changing the world.
What do you think: do you want to be part such an army?