I am indebted to Richard Potts, a much-loved Elder of St.Andrew's, Kenton and a valued servant of the United Reformed Church. Richard wrote and edited the booklet which was produced to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our church in 2007.
Richard was a respected archivist in Newcastle and Northumbria and author of local history books as well as long-time editor of the St.Andrew's monthly magazine.
Sadly, Richard died in March 2011. I have used extracts from Richard's research in compiling this web-page.
- ML (Webmaster) 2011
The St.Andrew's Vision Statement adopted in 2002 states:
'St.Andrew's seeks to be a fellowship of God's people, engaging in mission in the local community and offering friendship, care and welcome to all'.
St.Andrew's began life as part of the Presbyterian Church of England. Various sites in the Kenton area of Newcastle were investigated before an option was taken on the current site in 1955. The first service was held at 6.30 pm on 3 June 1955 in a local Residents' Association hall led by Revd. Norman Edwards, minister of nearby Gosforth Presbyterian Church.
The first 'effective' minister was the Revd. Basil Barkham, minister at Wallsend. He worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the new venture. By September 1955 other local Presbyterian ministers were taking services on a rota basis.
Originally it was intended to call the church 'St.John's'. However, it was found there was a St.John's at Kenton, Middlesex, so it was agreed to change the name to St.Andrew's.
The first Session (Elders') Meeting was held at Gosforth church on 15 Dec 1955.
The current church site was purchased from Newcastle Corporation in early 1956 for £480 and building tenders invited in January 1957. The cost of building plus all fees and charges was £16450 (!). This sum was found from generous grants, donations and an interest-free loan. A contract with a local builder was signed on 5 February 1957 and building commenced in March 1957.
The foundation stone was laid on Saturday 27 April 1957 by Rev. Basil Barkham in the presence of the Moderator of the General Assembly and approximately 250 others.
On completion the opening ceremony was conducted on Saturday 2 November 1957 by Rev. Alfred Webb and dedicated by the Moderator of the General Assembly. In addition the ceremony was supported by 130 clergy and lay people of other Presbyterian churches as well as 250 members, adherents and friends of St.Andrew's.
The first Sunday services were held on 3 November 1957. There was only one (evening) service until the first minister (Rev. Gordon Harris) was appointed in April 1958. The regular congregation numbered 80.
FURNISHINGS & EQUIPMENT
Although the (large!) sum of £960 was initially spent in providing essential and desirable furniture, carpeting, hymn-books, communion and other equipment, many generous donations of items and money to purchase them have been made in the last 50+ years.
In 1998 David was Moderator of General Assembly and on return from a trip to China presented the 'Good Shepherd' tapestry.
The Revd. Dale Rominger was minister at St.Andrew's from 1991-6 whilst his wife, Roberta, was Minister at a neighbouring URC. They visited the Holy Land in 1995 and returned with an embroidery (not shown here) from the Women's Child Care Society in Beit Jalor.
(Dale later became the URC's 'ambassador' for International Relations and Roberta is now the General Secretary of the URC).
The Revd. David Jenkins, while Moderator of Northern Province 1987-99, was a member of St.Andrew's and in 1991 attended the World Council of Churches in Canberra. He returned with the tapestry shown here, embroidered by an Anglican parish in Tasmania.
Space does not allow a display of all the furniture and the many donated gifts - but a random few are shown here:
MANSE & HALL
The Manse is a large detached house adjacent to the church and was completed in 1958 at a cost of £5190. The Church Hall was built in 1964 at a cost of £5650. Both are maintained in excellent condition.
From 1958 Sunday services were held at 11.15am. This was changed in 1974 to the current time 10.45. Evening services were discontinued in the 1990s. A printed Order of Service is provided for every worshipper.
All the main church festivals are held - Easter, Pentecost, Christmas, Harvest, Remembrance etc. Holy Communion is quarterly. On Maundy Thursday preceding Good Friday a 'Tenebrae' or 'Gathering Darkness' service is held. It is a popular service of great meaning.
St.Andrew's has always had a good number of lay members able to lead worship. A worship group also occasionally leads our devotions. It is a sad reflection of our times that we no longer have any youth or Junior Church worship, but a welcoming provision is always made for any child or young person visiting the church with parents, grandparents, family.
The music is provided by our regular organist but we are fortunate in having other musicians available to help out when he is not able to attend.
The organ is a pipe organ built by R H Walker & Son and maintained by Harrison & Harrison, Durham. There is also an excellent Yamaha digital piano. Members are able to add other instruments (flute, Northumbrian pipes etc.) on various occasions.
The original hymnbook was The Church Hymnary (published for the Church of Scotland and other Presbyterian churches). This was followed by the 3rd edition of Church Hymnary (CH3) along with Congregational Praise to accommodate the joining of Presbyterians and Congregationalists to form the United Reformed Church. In the 1980s Mission Praise was added. In 1991 we adopted the URC hymnbook 'Rejoice & Sing'. Revd. David Jenkins, then a member of our congregation, was much involved in the compilation and editorial of Rejoice and Sing and later wrote useful guides to effective use of the book. Rejoice & Sing remains in use today.
St.Andrew's has always enjoyed good relations with other nearby churches - particularly the Anglican Church of the Ascension, St.Cuthbert's Roman Catholic Church and our closest neighbour, the Jewish Reformed Synagogue.
Our minister, James Breslin, summed up our philosophy:
'Reformed churches, at their best, do not seek to copy the practices and actions of their forefathers, but rather seek to address the questions their forefathers addressed and provide answers for today, and not for yesterday. St.Andrew's has done that, changing in many ways as it seeks to relate to the changing community in which it is set.'