Marske Community Church

New church brings hope to Marske

Starting a new church is an ambitious project at the best of times – and late 2020, as the country reeled from the Covid pandemic, might be among the worst possible times of all.

But that was when the idea for Marske Community Church was born, with the aim of breathing life and hope into the small town on the shores of the North Sea, just south of the former industrial centre of Redcar.

‘It may seem bonkers,’ said Ruth Fox, one of the leaders. ‘For much of the year, people couldn’t even go to church. But we just felt that the time was right. People were asking questions about the very meaning of life, and we wanted to be there to offer answers.

‘Marske-by-the-Sea has around 8,000 residents, with a new housing estate of about 800 homes coming, and we felt it was important that there was a church for those who wanted it.

‘We spoke to John Singleton, who has thirty years’ experience of leading Baptist churches, and he and his wife had been thinking along the same lines. We organised a public meeting to gauge support, and the response was very positive.’

A major stumbling block was finance – times are tighter than ever in the region, with the decline of its industrial base compounded by the pandemic. That was where Baptist Insurance’s Grants Committee came in, with a donation of £9,000.

‘That money was vital,’ said Ruth. ‘It allowed us to buy an audio-visual system, a laptop, a lectern, and communion items, and pay to hire a room at the Marske Methodist Church. It meant we could cover the expenses of visiting speakers, and have a website built, and leaflets printed and distributed to let people know about the church and our Alpha Course.

‘We’ve also been able to do nice things like giving away daffodils and palm crosses to neighbours before Easter, with an invitation to our Easter Service. At Christmas we sang carols in the square and gave out baubles to passers-by, inviting them to our Christmas Carol Service.

‘We’ve attracted a lot of people, including people who had never been to a church before. It’s early days, but we’re really pleased with how things are going.’

BIC has given out over £2 million in grants over the past ten years to Baptist outreach and evangelism.

‘There can be few things more important than bringing a new church to an area,’ said Anne Bishop, Chair of the BIC Grants Committee. ‘We were delighted to be able to help Ruth and her fellow Christians in Marske in this work.’

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