Hope Church Bedlington is a growing church family in Bedlington, a town of about 10,000 people in South East Northumberland.

Up until the start of this year we were known as County Church Northumberland. County Church’s story started in 2003 when a group of people from City Church Newcastle, joined by others who moved up from the south of England, started meeting together to pray and dream about planting churches throughout the County of Northumberland. The church officially launched in 2007 and we have seen God do many wonderful things since then, experiencing all the highs (and lows!) involved with seeing a new church established.

Perhaps one of the most significant things we have been involved with is our Community Help Hub project.

In 2010 the church opened the Community Help Hub in Bedlington. This is a social action project we run from a shop front on the high street that aims to assist people searching for jobs and benefits by providing free internet, computer and telephone use. Long-term unemployment is a major issue in post-industrial Northumberland and the Hub has become a vital resource and source of hope for many. A team of volunteers from the church run the Hub and provide advice and assistance were required, for instance helping users with their job searches and writing CVs. For us, the Hub is so much more than simply a service we are providing. It is a place we can offer people dignity and hope, a way to reflect the love of God to our community, and a means by which we can build relationships with people.

So why have we changed our name to Hope Church Bedlington? Over the last few years God has been speaking to us about our vision. We have realised that if we are going to have a meaningful impact for the Kingdom of God and not stretch ourselves too thinly we need to focus on a specific location rather than having a broad focus on the whole County. Our long-term vision, to see churches established throughout Northumberland, remains. But in order to take steps towards that big vision we are now focussing on building a strong base church here in Bedlington from which we can one day plant outwards from a position of strength.

As we began to focus on Bedlington we also felt God was speaking to us about the kind of community he wanted us to be – a community of hope. We want to bring hope to the people around us and point them towards the ultimate hope found in the Gospel and the person of Jesus.

Changing the name in itself isn’t the most important thing. But it has been a significant moment for us as a church as we have focussed on Bedlington and felt a fresh sense of God’s calling to mission and adventure. We believe we are entering into a new season as a church family and are excited about all that God is going to do in and through us in the days to come.

By James Shepherd

James leads the team at City Church, Newcastle. He is married to Sarah and together they have two sons. He is passionate about teaching the Bible, helping people grow in their own personal relationship with God and sharing the Good News about Jesus with anyone who will listen!