March 9th, 2017

AIPM at Central County Durham Churches 2005 to 2010

By: Chuck McComb

AIPM began in Central County Durham as a result of a visit to Texas of David and Miriam Lennox from Stocksfield Baptist Church. The Lennox’s were staying at the McComb’s and doing a tour of the fastest growing Baptist churches in the southwest of the USA. During that visit, they mentioned Hamsterley Baptist Church (HBC) in the small village of Hamsterley in the heart of County Durham.

David was serving as Secretary of the Northern Baptist Association and a tutor at Northern Baptist College in Manchester. He had preached at HBC only a few weeks before coming to America. David and Miriam reported that HBC was at risk of closing for lack of resources. When it was learned that Hamsterley was a church plant by Stocksfield BC in 1652 when Stocksfield was only 2 years old, our heart strings were tugged profoundly. How sad if that church were allowed to die on our watch.

Hamsterley Baptist Church

AIPM had never done so before, but we felt lead to try to raise funds in the USA to support AIPM at Hamsterley in partnership with the Northern Baptist Association. And, the money came in and we got started there in 2005.

The first American interim pastor at Hamsterley was actually a Scotsman! Bill and Margaret Taylor were born and raised in Scotland (and still had the Scottish accent). Bill began Gospel ministry while still in Scotland. He sensed God’s call to serve in New Zealand and served there for a number of years. God then called the Taylors to Texas to continue ministry. They retired while serving near Beaumont and then moved to Fredricksburg, TX for their retirement years. They learned about AIPM and the opportunity at Hamsterley and volunteered to serve the first half of 2005.

Bill and Margaret Taylor

Darrelll and Faith Grice replaced Bill and Margaret Taylor and served HBC the second half of 2005. This was Darrell and Faith’s second AIPM assignment. They had served the first half of 2004 at Milnsbridge Baptist Church near Huddersfield.

Darrell and Faith Grice

During the Grice’s ministry at HBC, the retired British layman that was taking services on Sunday afternoons at Wolsingham Baptist Church (WBC) became ill and had to retire. The folk at WBC asked Darrell if he would serve as interim pastor of WBC as well as Hamsterley and take Sunday afternoon services. The Grice’s felt the Lord’s leading to do this so AIPM expanded to 2 central County Durham churches.

Wolsingham Baptist Church

Shannon Duncan from Charlotte, North Carolina was called as the third volunteer American interim pastor for Hamsterley/Wolsingham. And, this was Shannon’s third assignment in the UK. Previously, he served at St. Andrew’s Community Church in Tilbury and Milnsbridge Baptist Church in Huddersfield. Shannon served about 4 months in Central County Durham in the first half of 2006.

Shannon Duncan

The next American interim pastor to serve at Hamsterley/Wolsingham was Gregg Trickett from Tulsa Oklahoma. Gregg had a career in construction and had done some preaching in Oklahoma. He put his construction work on hold and volunteered in Central County Durham for about 5 months in the mid part of 2006.

The 5th and final interim pastor for Central County Durham was Jim Williams (wife Sally). Jim and Sally had only recently retired from an evangelical church that Jim had planted and served as pastor for more than 10 years in Phoenix, Arizona. Within a year or so of Jim and Sally’s arrival in County Durham, both Bishop Auckland and Crook Baptist churches asked Jim to serve as their volunteer interim pastor also. That brought to 4 the number of churches within a 10 mile radius of each other that Jim was serving.

Jim and Sally served the 4 central County Durham churches for almost 4 years, from 2007 well into 2010. Jim encountered some health problems on a visit to the USA late in his ministry in the UK. He returned to serve the 4 churches for a few more months then had to return to Arizona to take care of health issues.

Jim and Sally Williams

Over the years after the Williams tour of duty, Crook had a former youth minister as pastor. Shortly after that man was called to a different church, Crook closed. Wolsingham decided to partner with another local Baptist church in the area. Of the 4, only Hamsterley and Bishop Auckland remained in partnership and have shared a pastor for many years.