Halesworth Community Church was founded by John and Merle Sparkes in 1975. John and Merle had met at Bible College at Berwick-on-Tweed; they married in 1973 and moved to Suffolk to work as evangelists, initially with Counties Evangelistic Work. Prior to Bible College John had served an apprenticeship in the electrical industry and Merle had trained as an SRN and State Certified Midwife; she was also a part-time music teacher. They were asked to form and take responsibility for Halesworth Christian Fellowship by a group of local Christians who had come together through the evangelistic work and on-going Bible teaching.
What were the founding principles of the church?
The basic principles of New Testament church life, which had been studied in the different bible study groups, evolved into the basis for the church. The church was built on relationships with the principles of loyalty, commitment, trust, openness, honesty and having a vision for each other at its heart. Worship was also fundamental to the life of the church.
In 1979 the church became Halesworth Community Church, a community church with committed relationships and worship at its heart. The commitment members make was, and still is, to ‘uphold one another in love’.
The church moved from the Rifle Hall in Halesworth, where it had met until this point, to farm buildings in Rumburgh and John left CEW to concentrate on helping people to establish good relationships and family patterns with the Lord at the centre of their lives. That work has grown and developed over the ensuing years.
How has the church developed since then?
The church moved back into Halesworth in 1992 and met in the local Middle School until the school closed in 2012 when the church moved back onto farm premises, this time a lovely purpose-built meeting room at Cratfield.
The church has developed a wider itinerant ministry; it aims to provide both a haven and a resource for people and supports both individuals and groups from all parts of the UK and internationally.
What does the church offer today?
The church website contains biblical and practical teaching on many life issues as well as encouraging testimonies of the way the Lord has transformed lives.