A new chapter in the life of the Church of Good Shepherd, Bishopston

The existing congregation of the Church of the Good Shepherd has passed the baton on to Emmanuel Bishopston. The two congregations have shared the building for the last six years but now B&A Church has formally sold the building, car park and hall to Emmanuel.

Emmanuel Bishopston is a Church of England church that, up until now, did not own a building. It began meeting in January 2012 under the leadership of Rev. Jim Walford.

Rev. Jim Walford comments on this exciting new milestone: “We are thrilled we were in a position to purchase the Church of the Good Shepherd from B&A Church. The transfer of ownership means that our growing church family can have the security and permanence we have been longing for and continue to build on the work we have begun. Wonderfully, the purchase also means the B&A Church has the vital funds it needs to redevelop its other sites on St Andrews Park and the Gloucester Road. B&A Church has been very generous to us over the years, allowing us to meet in their building and we are grateful that we can take the baton on from them and share the good news of Christianity with our neighbours in North Bishopston.”

Emmanuel Bishopston currently consists of around 120 adults and 50 children. It meets on a Sunday at 10.45am and provides children’s groups for 0-3s (Scramblers), 4&5s (Climbers), 6-9s (Explorers) and 10-13s (Source).

Jim continues: “We hope every Sunday is a good Sunday to come and visit. We don’t assume any pre-existing knowledge and try to make everything as accessible as possible. We usually sing a few hymns, have a children’s slot and a talk from the Bible, followed by a Q&A where anyone in the congregation can submit a question via an online portal which the speaker then answers. This is something we feel strongly about – we want everyone who comes to be able to ask their questions, whatever they believe about God.”

During the week, Emmanuel Bishopston hosts a Toddler Group at the hall on a Friday morning (no waiting list!) and a youth group for 10-13s on regular Tuesday evenings. It also has weekly Bible studies across the wider Bishopston area and investigating Christianity courses. Over the last couple of COVID-affected years, it has organised the Emmanuel Nativity Window Trail and hosted several carol services in the car park!

In partnership with its sister churches, Emmanuel City Centre and Emmanuel Westbury, it runs an English Conversation Café for internationals, a summer holiday club for children, blokes’ toddlers, a film club and other initiatives to engage the church family and our neighbours. It also actively supports the Bristol Churches Winter Night Shelter and various ministries beyond Bristol.

The original Church of the Good Shepherd building was dedicated in 1927 and designed to last for only five years. It stood for 31 years and was known locally as the Church on the Hill. During the 1950s, the church community grew and began to explore the feasibility of building a more permanent structure. In September 1958, the Bishop of Bristol dedicated the new stone structure and in 1967, the current church hall was opened.

James Stevenson, vicar of B&A Church, adds: “It is a delight for us to see new life coming to one of the church buildings in this area. Six years ago, we decided that having three sites was a luxury we couldn’t afford. Since then, we have been on a journey to work out how best those sites could be used. It is vital that buildings serve the work of God rather than be a stranglehold on it. Both Emmanuel and B&A are now flourishing churches looking to serve their local communities. We have enjoyed serving alongside Emmanuel Bishopston and are looking forward to that partnership continuing.”

To find out more, visit www.emmanuelbristol.org.uk/bishopston or join Emmanuel Bishopston on a Sunday morning at 10.45am at Church of the Good Shepherd, Bishop Road, Bishopston.