Christ Church Southport built in 1821

History of Christ Church Southport

In 1987 a five yearly statutory structural survey found that the weight of the roof was causing the side walls to be pushed out with potentially dangerous consequences. The church was immediately closed and for the next nine years services were held in the existing halls adjacent to the closed church. The Church Council spent many late nights in meetings during the following months. They had to decide whether to repair or rebuild the church. After much debate it was decided that the 1865 building should be demolished but the Grade II listed tower and stone façade, which were structurally sound, should be kept.

The next few years were an amazing time when the Lord did much to bless the rebuilding process. The skills and expertise of the worshippers were put to good use in the planning process of the replacement building. The objective of the congregation was to raise £1.3million without any grant aid. A further 10% was to be raised and given to missionary work as a thank offering. The Lord loves a cheerful giver and over the next few years this amount of money was raised by the selling of church artefacts, an auction of promises, pledges and sacrificial giving by the congregation. (The only remaining artefacts are the two stained glass windows that are displayed and sometimes illuminated in the far left corner of the church). 1995 saw the present modern and flexible style church being opened and rededicated by the Bishop of Liverpool. The new church was attached to the retained tower and façade of 1865.

The eight bells still work and are rung on special occasions, often by visiting teams of bell ringers from other parts of the country. Visitors are often attracted to the church by the appeal of a town centre stone fronted Victorian building. They are invariably surprised to find a modern interior and pass compliments about the light and airy feel on entering the new building. Retaining the 1865 façade was indeed a wise decision, appeasing the local authority, local conservation groups, English Heritage and civic societies. The church does indeed compliment the Victorian character of Lord Street.
Since opening in 1995, the church has grown very much in number. We are justifiably proud of the wall hangings which were both designed and embroidered in house. These are changed to reflect the seasons of the Christian calendar. An extended worship platform with enclosed full immersion baptistry was later added to the worship area. The building is used for both Christian and secular conferences, meetings, recitals and productions. These have included ‘Pharisee’, ‘Joseph’ and ‘The Sound of Music’. There have also been two BBC transmissions of Christmas services.

Stop awhile, enjoy the peace of the church, say a prayer or visit the café which is open most mid week days. People often joke that the church was opened by a ‘Docker’ from Liverpool and that with its old front but modern interior ‘the church does not do what it says on the label’.

In warm sunshine the lawns in front of church are popular with visitors who like to sit and have a picnic. This is the old graveyard with over 1000 burials. The head and kerb stones were removed in the 1950s.
Look up at the magnificent stone dressed tower and down to the old church entrance doors. See where it was intended to site the clock faces before the money ran out – a familiar story? Remember that the Lord cares for you. His time will not run out. It is eternal. Ours is not!

Bell Ringing at Christ Church Southport

Christ Church received its first peal of six bells following a bazaar held in the Town Hall in 1864. Originally it was unclear which of the Southport Churches was to receive the bells with Trinity, St. Pauls, and Christ Church being considered. Finally the choice fell on Christ Church as “being central in position and possessing a new and commodious tower”.

As a full complement of ringers was not always available for ringing when services were held, a chiming apparatus was installed to enable the Verger to chime the bells in these instances.

Christ Church was to wait a further 18 years for their ring of six to be augmented to an eight. The two trebles were added to the ring an F# and a G.

By 1950 the bells were beginning to show their age and were recast and rehung. The work was to take two years. During this time the spire was removed as it was found to be in a dangerous condition.

Christ Church’s first Tower Captain was John Mason who was 60 when the bells were first hung in the tower.

The ringers in Christ Church have always maintained a close link with the Church.

Following the closure of the Church in 1987 the Tower was closed soon afterwards. In the next seven years the old church was demolished and a new purpose-built building erected. The new building was re-opened on Christmas Eve 1994 and the Emmanuel Ringers of Southport rang out the cobwebs. A working party, in January, cleared seven years of pigeon droppings and nest material and prepared the bell chamber for ringing to resume. The bells were checked and found to require attention to the pulleys and ropes and work was carried out during February.

A Christ Church band commenced training in January under the leadership of the Emmanuel ringers and service ringing commenced on Sunday March 5th for the first time in seven years. The band also rang for the re-dedication of the Church on March 11th 1995 along with the Emmanuel band.

On the day following the re-dedication of the church, there was a unique occasion when for the evening service the band consisted of 4 former Christ Church ringers one of which admitted to not having been in the tower for at least 30 years!

The five graded banners

In Autumn 1994 Brenda Boardman (a member of Christ Church) was invited by the redevelopment liaison group to consider forming a team to make new banners and wall hangings for our new Church. She invited several friends from Church, together with Liz Lacey representing the liaison group, to her home for a time of prayer and discussion with the priority being – THE WALL!

It would obviously be difficult to make one large banner, so it was finally decided to have the five graded banners you see now. From the start we were inspired by the Hymn ‘Thine Be the Glory, Risen Conquering Son’ and after much prayer and discussion we put the cross in the centre, with Christ’s glorious resurrection radiating from the cross. The poppies were for ‘remembrance’. The very last time we worshipped in the ‘old’ church was Remembrance Sunday and we also wanted to remember all the people that had gone before and built up the church. We showed the wheat as green and growing as a sign of new growth within the church.

With members of our banner group also being involved in the then women’s evening group, we asked and got their generous support in both praying for and financing this project. Also the fellowship groups to which we belonged took a keen and prayerful interest.

All in all, well over 250 hours were spent designing, stitching and finishing. A great team effort.

So what do you see in the wall hangings? Uppermost in our thoughts we worked to express ‘A Celebration of God’s Glory’, and we have embroidered on the back a verse from Psalm 57. ‘Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.’

What do you see in the hangings?

Folk have been helped in many ways and found within the hangings:-

  • The Road to the cross
  • The Glory of the empty tomb
  • A window in God’s wonderful world.
  • God’s creation from a tiny seed to full bloom

and during the week, the stewards find the hangings useful to witness to many visitors who visit Christ Church that the God we worship is the God of creation and the God of salvation.

As a matter of interest we used:-

  • Over 1500m of thread
  • 54 yards of cords and ribbon
  • 46 yards of different fabrics
  • and spent over 250 hours in all, with a total cost of £159.70

The rest of the banners now hanging in the worship area at Christ Church have ‘grown’ over the years. We weren’t able to work ‘to order’. All banners were initially inspired by a text, and also the different seasons in the church. We have also, every year, illustrated the Church Motto (unless there were too many words to fit!).

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