Change and Growth
Having moved on from our Anglican church we started travelling to Seaford on Sundays to meet with Terry’s church. We continued to meet in our home on Wednesday evenings and became like a railway junction with scores of people coming and going.
Many came to hear Terry’s teaching when he visited on alternate weeks. He would bring a carload with him and they sat together to encourage one another as we traditionalists prayed condemnatory/confessional prayers! (I later learnt that this principle of establishing a ‘hot heart’ to which others can be added was one that Terry wisely used on a number of occasions. Like a bonfire, start praying with a small group to create this ‘hot heart’ and once the ‘prayer culture’ is established others can be added.) We were never sure who or how many would come in any week but the dozen or so that had previously been the norm rapidly rose to twenties, thirties and even forties.
More space needed
We lived in a small house and had recently completed a conversion to give us a larger sitting room. But it was still only 22ft x 9ft so could not accommodate the numbers we were now hosting. We would leave the door open for people to listen from the hall, the kitchen or from sitting on the stairs. Such was the hunger for life in the Spirit in those days that people did not object to these inconveniences.
However, although we had only just finished one phase of building work it was clear that we needed more space and so built an extension. We did not have the money to do so but learnt many lessons of faith, and giving and receiving, through this so that we completed the work debt free. Around the walls were many electric power sockets so that people could plug in their recently acquired cassette tape recorders to capture Terry’s teaching. (We have often reflected since on how the present owners must wonder why there are so many electrical outlets in one room!). There was a tremendous hunger to hear and meditate upon these newly discovered (for us) truths.
But even this extension was not sufficient and others who had been attending started to meet in nearby villages to accommodate the growing numbers. Terry would visit these groups on alternate weeks. This sub-division also made it easier to invite people to a meeting that was more local to their homes.
Travelling the 20+ miles to Seaford to join the Sunday fellowship of believers was not, for us, a viable long-term solution and Terry urged us to start meeting in our home on Sundays. A few came but ‘house churches’ were not yet accepted as bona fide churches in those days.
Then in January ’77 God spoke to us that we should have more profile and meet in a public building on a Sunday. He spoke to us about planting a church, something that to a former Anglican like me was a totally foreign concept. Surely churches, by definition, had to have existed for hundreds of years! So we looked unsuccessfully for a public hall. Then God spoke again in June and this time we approached the same authorities who offered us the recently opened Clair Hall in Haywards Heath.
And so the Mid-Sussex Christian Fellowship (now The Kings Church Mid Sussex) was born on August 21st with 65 adults and children meeting in the Bar Lounge surrounded by securely locked bottles of spirits. But we were there to pursue the true Spirit!
This was the first church that Terry planted and probably marks the beginning of his apostolic ministry – not that such emotive words were used in those days.