St. Stephen's Church, Middleton, Manchester
St Stephen's Church is a member of the "Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion" which is a small free-church denomination established in the 18th century by Lady Selina Hastings, who was then the Countess of Huntingdon. Under the influence of George Whitfield, the denomination grew and at one time had around 200 churches throughout the country. Today, there are only 21 churches in the denomination. Most of these churches are in the south-east of England and are varied in both size and style of worship. The Church and Connexion is affiliated to the Evangelical Alliance We meet for worship each Sunday at 10.30am. We also meet with the other churches of Middleton on an occasional basis. Our mid-week activities consist of an Afternoon Devotional meeting, a Housegroup and Prayer Meeting. For the children we have a Good News Club for ages 4 to 11 during term time. We also have a monthly lunch which is open to all. We have a regular worshipping congregation of between 15 and 20 in the morning. Our Sunday School currently has around 5 children, ranging from 3 years to 11 years old. We also have a link with a number of other folk through our mid-week meetings. On an average Sunday morning, about 50% of our congregation would be considered to be elderly (over 65 with some considerably older) and the remaining 50% would consist of predominantly in the 45-63 age group. Most who attend the church live in Middleton, although some do travel from up to 8 miles away. Within the church, we have folk who enjoy a more "free" type of worship as well as those who feel that their worship is best expressed in a more "traditional" way. A typical service would normally include both traditional hymns and a selection of worship songs. As a registered charity, St. Stephen’s church has it’s own Trustees who are members of the church. In the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion each church is free to invite a Pastor of their choice, subject to final ratification by the Trustees of the Connexion. At the moment, St Stephen's church is without a Pastor. The main administration of the church is through the quarterly member’s meeting. In addition to this, the oversight of the spiritual life of the church is undertaken by our church spiritual leaders who meet monthly. All positions are elected annually except for Trustees who serve a three year term. As a denomination, we are bound by a series of "articles of faith". These can be found at http://www.cofhconnexion.org.uk/history/what-we-believe. At St Stephen's, we would consider ourselves to be of the "evangelical" tradition, and put a strong emphasis on the preaching and power of the Word of God. With regard to the Holy Spirit, although we do have a number of folk within our fellowship who exercise the gifts of the Spirit in a private capacity, they are not currently exercised in public worship. We meet in purpose built premises which were erected about 45 years ago to replace an ageing church and Sunday School. The church building itself is a light airy building capable of seating up to 200 and is bordered down one side by two vestries, a crèche and a vestibule. In addition to these rooms we have a hall (attached to the main building) capable of seating 80 with three meeting rooms above. We also have good kitchen and toilet facilities.