The Origins of Glenbrook Christian Fellowship
An unemployed, disabled man, called Harold Fulton was the person moved by God to see the need for a Gospel witness in the Higher Blackley and Heaton Park area. An opportunity arose when during the First World War members of the armed forces were stationed in Heaton Park. When the war ended, the forces moved out and their wooden buildings were put to use as temporary accommodation for civilians. Harold saw that the families and children living within the park had no church activities. So, together with Noel Knight, he commenced a Sunday School in the Community Centre hut. Soon large numbers of children were attending and God blessed the witness by sending in mothers and fathers as well. An adult service was held every Sunday and, one by one, folks were saved and added to the little church.
Later, when many of the families were re-housed onto the new Glenbrook estate, planning permission was sought and granted for a wooden hall to be erected in Glenbrook Road. The hall, built in 1932 at a cost of £300, became the hub of much activity and was appreciated by those living in the area. As it was a period of depression and unemployment, a hardship fund was initiated and each week a family on the estate was visited and given a little financial help. At Christmas, a free breakfast was provided on Christmas Day morning and toys (often second-hand), new money and oranges were distributed.
During the Second World War, members of the RAF were stationed in Heaton Park and quite a crowd of the RAF boys attended the “Mission”. There was much blessing when a team of these men conducted special services. Several local people were added to the church during this time.
After the war ended the work became established and regular Sunday services continued to be held, with a prayer meeting on a Monday evening and a Bible Study on Wednesday evening. Although the church was never large, it did increase. There was a Ladies Meeting which met at first in an afternoon and then, at a later period, it reopened on a Monday evening. A Youth Club was held for teenagers where they played table tennis, snooker, darts etc. and this activity was followed by an epilogue. Often the club was noisy and perhaps somewhat unruly. Nevertheless, several of these young people are, thirty-odd years later, in full time Christian work as ministers and youth workers. All this meant much hard work and difficulties did arise at times, however, there was much fun too. During one Sunday School outing to Southport, a scholar pulled the communication cord on the train! On another occasion, when food was scarce just after the war, all the pies and cakes which were ready for an outing were stolen overnight. How God provided even better food for the trip is another story!
In the 1960’s the wooden building was showing signs of wear, so the members began searching, with God’s help, for new premises. There were some unused buildings which were just inside the Victoria Road gates of Blackley Cemetery. These were rented and converted into a chapel. The costs were quickly paid off without any fund raising efforts. When the original wooden hall had been built a small chapel in Derbyshire, had just closed and the money from there was donated to Glenbrook. God again graciously provided funds when the chapel in the cemetery was built. Later on still the closure of the Blackley Gospel Hall, due to the village being redeveloped, provided further funds to sustain the new venture.
Glenbrook Christian Fellowship was originally known as Glenbrook Chapel which opened on Saturday, the 21st of October 1961. Many friends joined the congregation and the church was full each following Lord’s Day. An extension to the Chapel was added in 1970 providing space for prayer meetings, a crèche and a small office area.
The original wooden building in Glenbrook Road continued as the Sunday School but was demolished in 1984 and rebuilt as a larger, brick building. Now known as Glenbrook Christian Fellowship Hall, as well as the regular church services, other events are held such as Sunday School, Messy Church, Mum’s and Toddlers Group and the Coffee Morning. The old Glenbrook Chapel building is no longer rented from Manchester Council. Thus, the original vision continues, despite many “ups and downs” God has graciously maintained the witness through this portion of His church in North Manchester.