“Where there is no vision the people perish”
The Welcome moving on
The Welcome Evangelical Church has been a light in the Woodvale area for 125 years now after it was founded by the renowned missionary, Amy Carmichael. Amy, who came from Millisle is best known for her work in India and for also founding the Donavur Fellowship. (see Amy’s story).
The welcome has always had dedicated pastors - Pastor Jonathan Clarke becoming no exception. He took charge of the Welcome work back in May 2006 having previously served at the Elim Church at Randalstown, Co Antrim. Following the renovations which took place at the Welcome Hall in 2007, the next phase of Pastor Jonathan’s vision is to make the church a 21st Century accessible ministry. This will be realised by the opening of the new Amy Carmichael Centre in June 2016 and by smaller changes within the church such as new forms of worship and developing the on-demand services on our website.
When Social Development minister Lord Morrow officially announced the commencement of work on the exciting new project at the Welcome Evangelical Church Belfast – the Amy Carmichael Centre – on Thursday 18 February, it was the fulfilment of Jonathan’s vision at the Welcome. The main contractor Maghera Developments is already on site working on the new facility and the workmen are making considerable progress. The scheduled completion date of June 2016 now looks likely. The centre, which cost around £400,000, has been backed by both the Department of Social Development and Belfast City Council, takes our ministry in North Belfast to the next level.
“Our dream has become a reality”, says Senior Pastor Jonathan Clarke, who insists the impressive new centre will offer ‘state of the art’ facilities including a sensory room for people with autism. Pastor Clarke says “This project is in keeping with the original vision of Amy Carmichael 127 years ago when she came into the community to care for the whole person. It will help address social issues in our present-day community and provide a safer environment”. The new project is located on the corner of Heather Street - opposite Cambrai Street on the Shankill Road - and is an extension to the refurbished Welcome Evangelical Church. This latest development is seen as a continuation of the work of Amy Carmichael - the well-known missionary who planted the Welcome Hall over 100 years ago. Amy Carmichael is renowned for her work as a missionary in India where she served for 55 years and wrote many Christian books. The Belfast-based project will house classrooms for after school tuition, a sports area for keep fit activities, crèche facilities and the unique sensory room for people with autism. But many efforts will continue to go into the adjacent church premises and the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, too in order to reach lost sinners. This was Amy Carmichael’s dream and its one Pastor Jonathan Clarke is continuing.