OUR STORY SO FAR (IN A NUTSHELL…)
Some might say that this story began in September 2001, when Arbourthorne Community Church, as a church plant from the King’s Centre, held its first Sunday service on the Arbourthorne estate in Sheffield. However, the journey really started some time before this, (way back) in 1996 when Alistair & Caroline Beattie were serving the King’s Centre church on a year-out scheme and were introduced to Peter and Maureen Rolfe, who were leading a small fellowship on the Arbourthorne estate. Arbourthorne, for those of you who don’t know, is a Council housing estate on the south-east side of Sheffield, UK.
After working with the Phoenix Christian Fellowship for a year, Alistair and Caroline felt prompted to buy a house and move up onto the estate – which they did in 1997 – and in 1999 Peter and Maureen asked Alistair and Caroline if they would take on the leadership of their small fellowship of believers, The Phoenix Christian Fellowship. And so, it was around ’99/’00 that Alistair & Caroline began to realise that they were being called to step out in faith and plant a new church on the estate, relying on God to provide a stream of income for them through faithful friends and family members.
A number of people stepped-up and joined them, supporting this new ‘ministry’ both prayerfully and financially – and thus becoming the first of the band of supporters now known as the Miracle Trust STAKEHOLDERS.
In 2004, as the church-plant was growing and developing the ability to stand on its’ own two feet, the Miracle Trust was established to provide a legal and charitable framework over the church plant.
The Miracle Trust was originally setup to enable the mission vision of the church, and help communicate with the world around us without the stigma or misunderstanding that ‘Church’ often has, and provide a framework for us to grow further. The Trust soon became the vehicle that could employ Alistair and Caroline as Church Ministers along with the team of Youth Workers and Administrative staff that worked at the Spires Centre.
Over the last decade or so, the financial support of the STAKEHOLDERS was incorporated with two other streams of funding (TITHES & OFFERINGS from the church membership, and STATUTORY & PRIVATE GRANTS) creating a financial base which enabled the Miracle Trust and Arbourthorne Community Church become an ever-present community enterprise serving the neighbourhood with the unconditional love of God.
CONNECTING CHURCH, COMMUNITY AND COMMERCE
As the Church and Trust journeyed together, two organisations, with one bank account, providing the synergy and language to reach the neighbourhood and impact the city, we were able to establish a fantastic relationship with the local Council. This led us, in 2008, to be granted the sole use of an under-used youth centre on the estate – and birthed an unusually brilliant working relationship with the Council.
It was during a monthly meeting with the Council that a simple question (How have you made this building [The Spires Centre] come alive?) led us to wonder how we might potentially position ourselves to replicate what we had done in Arbourthorne across the whole city. And could we, a small church and small charity, that have passion for God and the community we live in, supported by the Council and some commercial funding, see our favour released to other churches, and see a network of transformation occur across the city?
TRANSITION FOR EFFECTIVENESS
The directors of the Miracle Trust and leadership team of ACC felt that there was a God-Opportunity here that required us to step out in faith. And so, in response to the favour that we were seeing from Sheffield City Council, who were amazed by the work that had done in the community through the development of the Spires Centre, we began to plan for how we could move forward.
The vision for the future flowed from the original call of the church plant to: REACH THE NEIGHBOURHOOD and IMPACT THE CITY.
Both the church leadership and trust directors agreed that the church (ACC) needed to position itself to reach the neighbourhood – to LOVE ARBOURTHORNE BECAUSE GOD LOVES ARBOURTHORNE, and so in 2014 we went through a process of transitioning the leadership of the church to Anderw Keel, enabling Alistair to be released from the local leadership to serve the wider Church.
During 2015, the directors of The Miracle Trust agreed that they were being led to a streamlining of the organisation in order that we might impact the city. The directors recognised 3 key elements for the future:
- In order to be effective in ‘CONNECTING CHURCH, COMMUNITY and COMMERCE’ the Miracle Trust needs to step away from the day to day management of Arbourthorne Community Church – therefore ACC is to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) enabling the two bodies to operate together in Christian mission with Sheffield
- The Miracle Trust should operate as an accountable framework that supports and releases the ministry of Alistair and Caroline Beattie, who originally pioneered ACC into Arbourthorne, and now have a distinct call to serve the wider Church family, in Sheffield and beyond.
- The Charity has a remit to support and develop churches (including ACC) in the Kingdom mission of seeing a city transformed. It will do this through releasing Alistair to pioneer work in the areas of Church Consultancy (serving and speaking at other churches), Chaplaincy in the City, and Networking with Church and Commerce in the City.
The Miracle Trust is now seeking to be that simple organisation, providing a framework of accountability around the pioneer leader that is Alistair Beattie, as he pushes out into the City, through active Chaplaincy, Connecting and Networking of Leaders, and Consultancy to Churches and their leadership teams.