History of Bethesda Gospel Hall

A Short History of the Assembly

About the year 1880 two evangelists, Mr Brewster and Mr Bartlett came into the town with a bible carriage. This was a horse drawn vehicle with Gospel texts painted on the sides and with a platform from which to speak . They engaged in the open air work in the town centre, chiefly in Lynn Street and it was due to this effort that the assembly was formed.

There were at that time several Christians in the various denominations who, through the teaching of these Brethren were led to see the New Testament order of gathering, and they decided to meet together owning no other name than the name of the Lord Jesus and no other authority than the word of God. These believers met together in the home of Mr Kirby in James Street.

After a while the house became too small and a large room was taken in a building in reed street. It is known that this company included Mr & Mrs Kirby, Mr Milton, Mr McCarthy, Mr Bullimore, Mr Gaul, Mr Petrie, Miss Bowman (afterwards Mrs Milton) Miss Turner (afterwards Mrs Milton) Miss Turner (afterwards Mrs Fawcett) and Miss Best. They were later joined by Mr Jobson from Sunderland.

God blessed their testimony and believers were added to the assembly, one of the converts being Mr William Brett who later became the Sunday School Superintendant a post he held for over forty years.

Gospel Hall Stockton Street 1880 – 1936

What a by word that was from the beginning of the century until July 1936 when we were compelled to leave owing to the overcrowding of the Sunday School and also for safety reasons.

 As one casts his mind back the joy of those wonderful and happy years. The writer has every reason to rejoice and thank the Lord that he ever was led to the Gospel hall for it was there he found the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ in the year 1918 and has found joy and delight in him ever since.

The Sunday School comes to mind and partly Mr Brett the superintendant. An attendance of two hundred or more each week. How we all enjoyed the summer outings with the horse drawn brakes, how we were blessed of the Lord. Then there was the Women’s meeting, attendance not as big as the Sunday School but many weeks over one hundred women would gather to hear the word of God.  Mrs Jean Wallace that godly lady and one of the founders, was a very capable leader.

During the 1914 war many soldiers were invited into the Gospel meetings and afterwards a pork pie and a cup of tea. What a joy it was to hear them singing with hearty voices their old favourite hymns.

One outstanding event was the Gospel campaign conducted by the late Mr McAlpine at the end of 1919. What a wonderful spiritual blessing, souls were saved and hearts uplifted.   

The most memorable day was the last one for after a short service the whole School formed up in Stockton Street to march to the new hall in Park Road. Crowds of people lined the streets to watch us. It was a happy occasion but it was also a sad day.

Gospel Hall Park Road 1936 – Present

In the early years of Bethesda Gospel Hall. Young people’s meetings would be held on a Saturday evening for teenagers to hear the word of God as well as going on various outings together.

A woman’s meeting would be held on a Wednesday afternoon when many ladies would gather together to have a sing and a word from the Bible, with tea and biscuits and a chat to finish off with many blessings were had.

On a Tuesday evening a good number of girls would come along to the girls class to do knitting and sewing with blankets and vests etc being made which would be sent to missionaries.

For many years Thursday Evening was Boys Class Evening. The boys did woodwork during the winter months and as soon as the weather was good enough it was games at the park. Some of the years after the war there was a camp up at Crimdon, also there was an annual outing to the Yorkshire Moors. Whilst the boys enjoyed the activities the main object was the teaching of the Bible and each week the class ended with a Bible lesson. Many young men still remember the boys class today.

At present on a Tuesday evening between 6pm – 7:30pm we have Adventurers for Children aged between 5 and upwards with about 23 children altogether enjoying a message from the Bible as well as games, crafts, worksheets and a drink of juice and biscuits to finish with.

We continue to go round the doors with good news magazines, John 3 vs 16 texts and other literature on a regular basis.

Previous events have included the Maritime Festival, Dock Fest and Tall Ships in 2010.