Free Methodism came to the North West around 1970 and a Church was established in Heysham In 1978, a mission was to be held at the Heysham Church and small prayer groups were formed to pray for it. After the mission, those of us who lived in Lancaster decided to continue praying together and this little prayer group - 10 of us, became the nucleus of the Lancaster Free Methodist Church. Of those ten, 6 of us are still here today.
As we were praying together, through various scriptures, words of knowledge and prophecy, we felt God was calling us to plant a Church in Lancaster and an approach was made, to the fellowship at Heysham, where we were all in membership, that they might give us their blessing to do so. After much prayer and discussion, this resulted in us being released to start a work in the city.
During the summer of 1980, we concentrated on working with the children who lived on the Hala Estate, where we felt our outreach should begin. We felt that through the children we would be able to reach their parents.
We spent many hours knocking on doors, introducing ourselves and befriending the families on the estate. We took the younger children on trips to the seaside and the older ones walking in the Lakes. During this time we were joined by other committed Christians and God so blessed us as we met in various homes for Prayer and Bible Study, planning meetings etc. We were careful not to move an inch without God’s say so. Following on from the day trips, in the September of 1980, we held a Family Night in the Labour Hall on Scotforth Road and two families accepted Jesus as their Saviour and Lord. We felt this was God saying we were on the right track.
Lancaster Free Methodist Church is born
On 5th October we held our first Sunday evening service, again in the Labour Hall. In January 1981, Sunday School began and on 5th
April we held our first Sunday morning service. We were now holding two services on a Sunday. We felt like a Church. And on 27th April 1981 we were officially constituted - we were a Church. Praise the Lord!
27 people were received into membership that day, the original 10, 10 other committed Christians who had joined us and 7 people who had been soundly saved since the outreach in Lancaster had begun.
The Lord continued to bless us. Our youth and children’s work flourished and our contact with the families on the Hala estate continued. God truly met with us in the Labour Hall. The Holy Spirit moved in the services and we saw many lives being
changed. Our faith was deepened as we were put on the stretch for Him.
In 1989 a fellowship group from LFM began to meet in Carnforth and eventually, from this, our Daughter Church, the Carnforth Free Methodist Church, was born.
After some years, the Labour Hall was bursting at the seams. We began to look round for a site to build a Church, but God said ‘No’ to all those we considered.
Desperate for more space we approached the Christian Headmistress of Moorside School and asked if we might use the school hall for Sunday services. She was very doubtful the governors would agree but after consultation, they said yes! We had prayed - God had answered.
The extra space we had at Moorside was soon taken up, people were saved. Young people went off to Bible College. Some into full-time ministry, but we still had the vision for a building of our own and this became our constant prayer.
In 1991 we heard that a building on Queen St, which had once been a Presbyterian Church was for sale. God told us to put in an offer on the building. However, there were other interested parties. Once again we were driven to our knees and once again God heard our prayers and the building became ours. We were overwhelmed by God’s goodness to us and were so thankful.
After much building work, renovation and decoration the opening and dedication of our Church were held on 4th July 1992. 12 years after we first felt God’s call to Lancaster.
Although we now had a beautiful sanctuary to worship in, we soon realised - you’ve guessed it - we needed more space. We had a port-a-cabin on the car-park and we used the Dallas Road Kid’s club for our Sunday School and youth work.
We began to pray for an extension to go on the back of the church. Again God provided. He has been so good to us. The extension was built. We called it Stepping Stone - wanting it to be just that, a stepping stone to faith in the Lord Jesus, - To see it being used so much today is a great blessing.
There has been a tremendous amount of sacrificial giving over the years by the people here because of their love for the Lord and their commitment to the Church and we are so grateful to God for His provision.