David Maskell
Some News About Our Amesbury Congregation

Some News About our Amesbury Congregation

In 2016 the then Elders of Grace Church felt that a multi-site congregation should be planted into the town of Amesbury and planned how that could begin.  In January 2017 monthly meetings began and the Amesbury congregation was launched.  Salisbury and Amesbury have two separate identities and I often hear people from Amesbury say I rarely go to Salisbury, why would I want to go to Salisbury when everything I need is right here in Amesbury, and so it was great to be able to offer a context in Amesbury where we could gather together as Grace Church.

Before the pandemic, numbers were rising gradually and at our Sunday meetings we were starting to see 90 people each week.  When we began to meet again when Covid infections had reduced back in July 2021 after not being able to meet for 18 months, , we had to make a choice between consolidating the church altogether back in Salisbury and then relaunching our Amesbury congregation at a later date, or alternatively launching both congregations again at the same time.  We listened to the people from the Amesbury congregation and they were keen to start meeting again straight away in their locality, and so we launched both congregations together.  We didn’t want to limit people’s faith by taking the more cautious option.  We said that we would try it for a season and see if it was sustainable.

Over the weeks since we relaunched Simon Redmill and I have been to both congregations every week, and it has been great to get to know many of the Amesbury congregation better.  The numbers attending have settled at about 25 adults and children each week.  During this time we have seen some challenges with our worship, with the availability of musicians quite limited, and there have also been some challenges with how many volunteers we have had for children’s work, and for the SUPA team. We have had a number of visitors visiting but they haven’t stayed with us.

We Need to Strengthen

The elders have discussed this and prayed about it and we feel that the Amesbury Congregation needs to be strengthened and consolidated before we can continue in Amesbury.  We have therefore made the decision with much heartache that we would be better to pull the Amesbury congregation back to Salisbury, and then gather together a refreshed and reinforced team to re-launch back in to Amesbury when the time is right.  We haven’t made this decision because Simon is stepping down, but that change does reduce the availability of eldership leadership for Amesbury for Sunday afternoons.

We told the Amesbury congregation this news last Sunday and there was quite a lot of sadness in the room.  We will continue meeting in Amesbury for a few more weeks, with the last week there on 20th Feb 22, and then the week afterwards on 27th Feb we will begin to all gather together as one church at Sarum Academy.  On that Sunday Andrew Lawrence who provides some input for us from the Commission apostolic team, will be preaching and praying for us as a church as we go through this transition.

The elders do not feel this is a permanent withdrawal from Amesbury, we remain committed to Amesbury and as soon as we are strong enough to return we plan to relaunch.  At the same time we have to recognize that that is not going to be in the next two to three months, we feel it will be a longer time period until we are ready to return to Amesbury. This is not a reversal of the original vision, it is more about recognizing where we are after a worldwide pandemic, where everything has changed around us.

We want to maintain a presence in Amesbury.  We have two Community Groups operating in this area, and they will continue.  We will from time to time have some social events, prayer meetings and some Holy Spirit Encounter evenings for the whole church in Amesbury, rather than every meeting being in Salisbury.


Draw Back the Bow

As I have been writing this I am reminded of the Amesbury Archer.  In 2002 a bronze age grave was found in Amesbury at the site of some new houses., He was nicknamed the Archer because of all the arrow heads found in his grave.  He is also known as the Bowman and the place we have been meeting in in this last season is called the Bowman Centre.  When an archer has fired his arrow, he has to reload the bow with a new arrow, he then has to pull back the string to put more power in to the bow, and then when he has pulled back far enough, he lets go to relaunch the next arrow towards his target.  By pulling back to Salisbury that is what we are doing.  Our target remains as Amesbury but we need to pull back to relaunch forward when enough force has been gathered and the time is right.


What Can You Do In The Meantime?

If you are based in Amesbury, we would love you for a season to meet with us in Salisbury, so you are refreshed, and so we can gather a bigger group to return to Amesbury.  Please work with us to get back in to Amesbury as quickly as we can.  If people drift away and don’t come to Salisbury it will be very difficult to gauge when we have gathered a critical mass for a re-launch.

If you are based in Salisbury, please pray for the Amesbury congregation, reach out in friendship to them and welcome them warmly to Salisbury to make them feel at home and part of our family together.

We have always been one church together, and for a season we will be in one room together, so let’s be family together on a mission to spread the gospel message to all the areas we live in.


David Maskell

On behalf of Grace Church Elders

February 2022