We are a group of evangelical Christian people, independent of any organised denomination, meeting here in Kirkby Stephen since well before the end of the 19th century. The early history of the church was not recorded in any detail, but we believe that its first meetings here were probably in the 1870s. The following seven notes may help to explain who we are and what we stand for.
- We are a Church – but not in the sense of having an impressive church building. In fact our meeting place is the cottage shown here (now looking very different, and known for at least a hundred years as the Gospel Hall). The church is the people, meeting together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour. We try to keep our building and our meetings simple in style so as to focus the attention on Jesus himself, not on surroundings or ritual.
- We are evangelical – which means that we accept only the Holy Bible as the authority for what we believe and at the heart of this is the preaching of God’s forgiveness through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins on the cross. We cannot save ourselves; we cannot work to become good enough for God to accept us into his heaven, not even by religion and church attendance; we must rely totally on God’s forgiveness as his free gift, that we could never deserve but which he calls us to accept. This is the heart of the Gospel, God’s good news.
- We are evangelistic – We seek by many different means to spread this good news of God’s forgiveness and his power to change the lives of both individuals and communities for the better.
- We are baptist – Notice the small ‘b’; we are not part of a Baptist denomination. We mean by this word that we baptise, not small children, but people who are sufficiently mature to decide for themselves to trust and follow Christ. The method of baptism is that used by the very earliest Christians in New Testament times, immersion in water to symbolise dying to a person’s past life , being buried and then rising again to a new life of service to God and to others.
- We are independent – This does not mean that we are isolated from other Christians but gladly fellowship with others of similar Biblical evangelical faith, whatever denomination they may be associated with. For ourselves, however, we prefer not to be part of an organised denomination as so often such institutions have kept Christians apart from one another.
- We are Bible-focused – Our preaching and teaching are strongly focused on the Bible, the Word of God, which we accept as the one and only source of authority in matters of faith, and of both church and individual conduct.
- We are Christ centred – He is at the heart of everything we do as a church. He is the reason for our existence as a church. As Christians we are drawn to meet together because we are attacted to him, the one who died for us and rose again. This is especially reflected in our weekly meeting for worship and to take bread and wine in his memory (communion), as he instructed his first disciples. To this we welcome all who have trusted him as Saviour and Lord, and others to observe.
We hope that the above short paragraphs will help to explain who and what we are. Other pages will have more detail as the site is expanded. For example see, What We Believe.