Over the last two years a group of church leaders in West Yorkshire, facilitated by Gospel Yorkshire, have been meeting to identify priority areas for church plants in the region. One of the clearest priorities is the Spen Valley, an area between Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield. It is home to approximately 50, 000 people, living in Cleckheaton, Liversedge and Heckmondwike. Along with the rest of Kirklees, the population of the area is expected to grow by 20% within the next 25 years. Whilst each area has its own distinctive character, there is a strong sense of local identity across the valley. There are churches within the area, but many have identified the need for a new Gospel-shaped church. There are few evangelical believers in the area, although a few travel out to other churches.
We are delighted that, following these discussions, Graham Thomson will God-willing be leading a plant into the Spen Valley, in conjunction with Gospel Yorkshire, in September 2017. Graham is our West Yorkshire Coordinator and has been the Assistant Pastor at Hope Church Huddersfield since September 2013. He is married to Dawn, and they have a young son. Graham has lived all his life in West Yorkshire and has a great love for the region and its people. Graham and Dawn plan to move to Cleckheaton, the largest town in the valley, in August 2017. The resulting plant will be based in Cleckheaton but have a vision to reach the whole of the Spen Valley. We expect that the church will be affiliated to the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, and the Yorkshire Gospel Partnership.
Graham has already started discussions at a leadership level with seven local churches to establish how they might work together to support this plant. They will be meeting again soon to discuss how they might go forward.