Christ Church Brighton had its last meeting together on 10th July 2016.
In 2005, the then Bishop of Chichester initiated a ‘fresh expression of church’ in Brighton, to be led by Revd Carl Chambers, who was just finishing a curacy with Bishop Hannington, Hove.
So much was done on the hoof. Various factors combined to mean that the first time the new team of a dozen people met was on our first Sunday. We had to start completely from scratch – we didn’t even have a name for two months!
What we did have was a commitment to be a gospel-centred, Christ-honouring, fellowship-loving, evangelistically-focussed, prayerful church.
The early days were exciting, yet not without suffering. We had the joy of welcoming several people who happened to move to Brighton, who provided key energies to a small team. We began a ‘church in a pub’ evangelistic meeting, which lasted several years, and saw much fruit, not least in spiritual growth as we engaged with friends and visitors. More than once did an ardent atheist bring friends who brought friends – some of whom proved quite interested in Jesus!
Yet we faced setbacks. Within three months one marriage had broken up, three men had left, and a young boy had developed a brain tumour which kept him in hospital for the best part of the next nine months. (Wonderfully, he is still alive – praise God!).
Over these years we’ve seen all four soils, in spades (so to speak). We’ve had the joy of conversions, repentance from acts that lead to death, patient endurance, growth in maturity and clarity of doctrine, and deepening of love and fellowship alongside forgiveness.
We’ve had the blessing of eight apprentices, four of whom were ‘home grown’, but many more ‘unofficial’ ministers trained through the experience of being in a small, changing church such as this.
The Lord even chose to call home one man whom we met through door-knocking: he was the only one to respond from a thousand homes, yet he died three years later of pancreatic cancer, aged just 57.
In the end, the diocese decided to withdraw Carl’s post. Whilst the church has been financially viable in the past, the fellowship took the difficult and painful decision that it was best, given all the circumstances, to close as a church.
One of our aims has always been to “spread and send”. There is more than ten times the original bunch who are scattered around the world whom we have had the joy of walking with, many of whom are still walking faithfully with the Lord. Praise God! It has been pleasing to him to send us now. Our prayer is that we might serve and strengthen the fellowships we join, wherever the Lord leads us. To God be the glory!