History

The Stocksbridge Christian Centre traces its origins to the Spink Hall Sunday School which met in the main hall of Stocksbridge School (now Stocksbridge High School) on Shay House Lane from September, 1961. As the Whitwell Estate area was being developed in response to the growth of the Samuel Fox steelworks, and due to the closure of the West End Methodist Church in Stocksbridge, it was decided to create an ‘outreach’ project by establishing a Sunday School for children on the estate. In the first year, there were 40 students taught by five teachers led by Mr. Dudley Beck, the Sunday School Superintendent.

With the closure of the Scotland Street Methodist Church in Sheffield, in 1965 the Sheffield North Circuit of the Methodist Church decided to purchase a plot of land on the corner of Cedar Road and Pot House Lane, which was done but no building was built on the site at that time. In 1970, Father John Callanan of St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church offered the Sunday School the free use of the hall of St. Ann’s Catholic Primary School. Spink Hall Sunday School met there until 1972. In that year, the Sunday School hall was built on the Cedar Road site. This new building was used by a number of other groups including a ‘Youth Group’, a ‘Twenty Plus’ group’, and a ‘Senior Citizens’ group, all of which were in operation by 1976. Worship was also conducted at this time.

The year 1976 proved to be a crucial year as the Sunday School effectively became a church. With the forced purchase of the Parkwood Springs Methodist Church site by the Sheffield City Council, it was decided that the funds received could be used most effectively by building a church on the Cedar Road site in Stocksbridge. At the same time, the ‘congregational’ leaders decided that they wanted to develop as an ecumenical church and had discussions with St. Mary’s Church, Bolsterstone and Stocksbridge United Reformed Church.

In January, 1978 the Cedar Road Ecumenical Project Working Party was formed with the Methodist and Anglican clergy as joint chairs. This group produced a set of ‘Aims and Objectives’ and wrote a preliminary constitution for the church. On 1 July, 1978, a Methodist church was formally opened and the working party was replaced by a Church Council. On 17 September, 1978 the Methodist church on Cedar Road was formally opened as the ecumenical Stocksbridge Christian Centre, a partnership of the Methodist Church and the Church of England.

From the beginning, the Christian Centre has been keen to preserve and develop its ethos as an ecumenical church bringing together different Christian traditions. When hymnals were purchased in late 1979 the congregation wanted an ecumenical book and chose With One Voice, the hymnal of the Uniting Church in Australia, an ecumenical union of the Congregational Union of Australia, the Methodist Church of Australasia, and the Presbyterian Church of Australia. On 5 September, 1982, a legal Sharing Agreement was signed, formalising the relationship between the two denominations.

From that date, the church has worked as a single, ecumenical congregation committed to working with other churches in ‘The Valley’ individually and through Churches Together in Stocksbridge and District. There is an especially close relationship with St. Mary’s, Bolsterstone. In addition to contributions to Christian unity events, the Christian Centre’s members are involved with The Bridge charity shop in central Stocksbridge, and the Stocksbridge Food Bank based at The Hub Pentecostal Church. The Lunch Club at the Christian Centre, which meets fortnightly, provides a two-course hot meal for older people, and an opportunity for people to meet and share time together. The church is now considering how it might expand its outreach to the community around it.

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