The origin of the Church which now meets at the Emmanuel Christian Centre is rooted in the Churches of Christ movement. On the 19th March 1876, a few believers from the movement had their first meeting in the Ulverston home of Sarah Woods and thus formed the Ulverston congregation. Churches of Christ claim to have been meeting in the Furness area since the 1600s, although probably as some other Christian group such as the early Quakers being influenced by George Fox in 1652. Some of those who attended the 1876 meetings in Ulverston were previously Baptists who had decided they wanted to live in the teaching of the New Testament after attending a Churches of Christ campaign at Kirkby in Furness.
In 1883 the Church acquired a building in the Ellers area of Ulverston, next to the coal merchants. They also rented Ford Villa near Ford Park in Ulverston to accommodate larger meetings. The picture (below left) shows two Christian brothers stood outside the Ellers building. One of the more famous brothers from this Church was Walter Crosthwaite who went on to be a prominent evangelist. He also lived at Ford Villa where he edited the Scripture Standard magazine. Walter's father, Joseph Crosthwaite, is merited as the founder and first Elder of the 1876 Ulverston Church of Christ.
In 1925 the Ellers congregation moved to a building in Union Street (below centre) which had been left vacant by the Primitive Methodists. In the late 1920s and for unconfirmed reasons, possibly relating to expressions of worship, the congregation split to form two distinct groups. One group continued its affiliation with the Churches of Christ and in 1977 they moved into a converted stable in Mill Street where they still meet today. The other group became known as the Ulverston Assembly and began an affiliation with the Assemblies of God in Great Britain (AoG). They continued to meet in Union Street until selling the building in 1984 to buy the derelict Victoria Concert Hall (below right), coincidentally also in Mill Street. After much renovation the building was officially opened in 1986 as Emmanuel Christian Centre.
The Victoria Concert Hall was originally built in 1850 to be used for 'dramatic performances and public entertainments'. According to the historical directory of P. Mannex, the building could accomodate 800 people in its original layout. The image below left is from an advertisement for the adjacent Queens Hotel and it shows the Concert Hall in 1850. The image below right shows the Emmanuel Christian Centre in 2006.
It was under the leadership of Pastor Keith Tipple, now of International Community Church in Illinois, that the building was renovated for the Lord's use. The name 'Emmanuel' was chosen because it means 'God with Us' and the Church at the time felt God was with them in the vision and purpose of the Centre. The vision was for a multi-faceted Christian development close to the centre of the Town. The vision for the Church which meets there was for each individual to learn to hear the voice of God, then be equipped and encouraged to move out in their God-given ministries. Please take time to read though the introductory letter (right) written in 1986 by the founding Pastor.
The Church at Emmanuel Christian Centre continued to be associated with the AoG until 2013 when a connection was formed with an independent free-church network called Churches in Communities International (CiC). The Church is grateful for the seeds planted in the non-conformist Church of Christ era, for the awakening during our AoG affiliation, and for the accreditation and accountability now provided by CiC.
We may now be best described as an Independent, Evangelical church with some Pentecostal roots.
References, with thanks
The Encyclopedia of the Stone Cambell Movement by Douglas A Foster (Reprint 2012) - ISBN-13: 978-0802869753.
The Story of Christianity in Cumbria by Henry L Widdup (1981) - ISBN-13: 978-0900811135.
Traces of the Kingdom (online): http://churches-of-christ.ws/chapels.htm.
Love Feast (Trip Report) by Carl Ketcherside (Leroy Garrett): http://www.leroygarrett.org/restorationreview/article.htm?rr20_02/rr20_02d.htm&20&2&1978
The Directory of Furness and Cartmel 1882 by P. Mannex: http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/LAN/Ulverston/history.html
Ocean Wings Biography (Ps Keith Tipple): http://www.ocean-wings.net/bio.html