Sunderland, a city in the north east of England, is approximately 12 miles from the major city of Newcastle. Just as Solomon stated: 'To every thing there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.' (Eccle 3:1) In 1972, Brother Shi-Hung Hsiao (Deacon Roung-Kuang Hsiao) who studied in Germany, together with Bro Keith Hon, an Englishman who was baptised in Taiwan, visited the brethren in the UK accompanied by bro Yau and bro Liew. Their visits served as a milestone or the future development of the Church in Sunderland.
The House of Prayer
The House of Prayer was established in Sunderland on 12th November 1972. Its beginning included the observation of the Sabbath in bro Kai-Pou Liu's restaurant. But this temporary arrangement later gave way to the use of a hired school hall. To educate the young, an additional classroom was hired to accommodate the children class, whereas the youth class would meet on Mondays in a take away shop. Having classes in a take away shop caused complaints from neighbours and prompted investigation by the police. So the venue had to be moved again and again.
The school janitor controlled the access to the hall and classroom. If the janitor failed to turn up, the members would have to gather at the side of the playground, and disperse after a few hymns and prayer. The thought of having a permanent place of worship, a church, was very much the top priority because of the irregularities and the constant interruptions encountered. They then put their effort in praying to God and seeking for a suitable place.
The First Church Dedication
In autumn 1977, a four-storeyed ofice building in Stockton Road at the south side of the city was purchased at the then price of 6,000. After some simple renovationsthis office converted to church was dedicated to the Lord on 16th July 1979. On the day of dedication te congregation gave praises and thanksgiving to the Lord for His abundant grace.
The Second Dedication
After the first church dedication, the increase of members had compelled the church to consider acquiring another bigger premises. After several months of searching, the members found that a Methodist church which was up for sale. Many parties bid for the building, but it was the owner's wish that the building be continued to use for religious purpose after the sale. With the Lord's help, hindrances were overcome, and the building was purchased with 25,000. A Spiritual Convocation and Church Dedication took place on 12th-14th July 1982.
The Third Dedication
After a few years, the members gradually felt that though the premises was big, but rather impractical. There were not enough classrooms. Also major renovation work was necessary due to the age of the building. It was in 1991, after unanimous approval by the congregation that a committee was formed to implement the project of renovation and the building of classrooms. Several plans were prepared by the architect (the same architect who designed the newcastle Church), but the plan to demolish the existing building and rebuilding a two-storeyed one was chosen. With months of preparation and discussion to the new plan, it finally went through on 26th August 1993, when the planning permission was given. The cost of the whole building was projected to be just less than half a million pounds. The demolition work began on 14th September 1993. Under the guidance of God and the prayer and support of the brethren, the new church building was completed at the end of May 1994. The church was dedicated on 22nd August 1994.
May all glory be unto His Holy name!