"Wherefore we endeavour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. "
2 Corinthians 5 verse 9
I have already referred to the strong missionary principles and function of Hunters Lane Church, and once the work at Wellington Road had become established, concern and interest in the work at Cambridge Street Mission came to the fore, through Mr. John Stevenson, a deacon at Hunters Lane Church and a member of the Wellington Road Management Committee, who, it would appear, assisted in the work at Cambridge Street.
On the 29th March 1883, at a Church meeting which had been convened chiefly to consider a scheme for an enlarged and more efficient work in Wellington Road, an unexpected appeal from Mr. Stevenson called for the amalgamation of the work at Cambridge Street with that of the Church and Wellington Road. He pointed out the financial circumstances and the favourable attendance of 120 scholars in the, Sunday School and of 6080 Adults at services. The working expenses were £30 a year inclusive of mortgage payments. Mr. Stevenson was extremely earnest in his reasoning for this measure, but it was stressed by others that the Church "should be careful lest its enterprise exceed its means".
It was eleven months of further consideration and consultation with representatives of Cambridge Street congregation and Sunday school before a resolution proposing an invitation be extended to them to affiliate with Hunters Lane Church was considered and lost by 28 votes for the motion and 41 against it. Seven years later, in July 1891 this matter was again considered and resulted in a cordial invitation to the "'friends of Cambridge Street Mission (to be conveyed through Messrs. Stevenson and Charnley), to affiliate themselves" with Hunters Lane.
In a reply dated 19th September 1891 and signed by John Stevenson and G. H. Charnley, the invitation was declined with kind but telling firmness. "God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform", and it could not have been foreseen at that time that the Lord would intervene and bring the two Missions, Wellington Road and Cambridge Street, together as co-workers and believers in the Saviour under the Liverpool City Mission.
On the 3rd May 1883, it was unanimously agreed that the Rev. William Ellison be appointed the first pastor to take charge of the Wellington Road work. He was reported as being a "kind and genial man likely to have ready access to the poor. " It was also reported that Mr. Ellison was willing to accept £150 a year, and that sum had been guaranteed by the Management Committee. This would seem to be a very satisfactory stipend at the time, since many men were scarcely earning that much in the 1930's. Mr. Ellison resigned on 30th April 1885, possibly through illness.
In April of the following year; the Minister of Hunters Lane Church agreed to make enquiries regarding the desirability of securing the services of a missionary, after the character of the Liverpool Town Mission, or the alternative of an assistant minister to work at Wellington Road and to assist at Hunters Lane. Communications from several organisations were considered, including one from E. Habershom, Esq. of the Liverpool Town Mission. From this, further correspondence ensued between Mr. Hassan and the executive of the Liverpool Town Mission, including Mr. Thomas Matheson, President of the Mission. There was a personal conference between the two men in September 1886. It is interesting to note that the Liverpool City Mission Church at Bromborough bears Mr. Matheson's name.
Before this matter could be resolved, dramatic and sad events burst upon the Church and its officers in March 1887, which resulted in resignations and threats of resignations from several of the Deacons, including those of the Wellington Road Management Committee; and, alas from their pastor, the Rev. Edward Hassan. The storm seems to have broken upon the rocks of finance and conduct of the Church's responsibilities, including those of Wellington Road Mission. In fact a move was made to obtain the authority of the Church members, to permit the aggrieved deacons and members - some forty of them - to take over the Wellington Road Hall and form a new Church. The group included John Blyth, A. McCulloch, Ed Bridson, F. Newcombe, John Hicks and John Stevenson, and for such dedicated men to be involved indicates the extreme seriousness of the cause and effect of the division. However, the following month a Church meeting approved a motion of confidence in the Deacons, and on the 30th June 1887, after prolonged discussion, it was resolved that the Minister's resignation be accepted and that the above named Deacons and six other gentlemen be empowered to conduct the affairs of Hunters Lane Church until a new minister was appointed.
At this time the Sunday morning and evening services at Wellington Road Mission had been the responsibility of Mr. J. W. Bowman, in a part time capacity. He came to Hunters Lane Church from the Wesleyan Methodist Society in 1883 and contemplated entering College with a view to the Ministry with the Independent Church. He entered the Lancashire Independent College in October of that year. Mr. Bowman was, however, able to offer his part-time services to the Church at Hunters Lane and became responsible for certain services at Wellington Road and visiting the families in that district. When he finally relinquished this work in 1887, he was given £25 for his valued services. It was regrettable that the loss of Mr. Bowman's assistance should coincide with the resignation of the Minister, Mr. Hassan who had also conducted some services at Wellington Road - because it was found necessary to discontinue the Sunday morning and Wednesday evening services for a time.
These were sad and difficult days - days when hasty and drastic decisions were inevitable and, in some measure, counter productive. One, especially today 2 cannot and should not infer criticism of measures taken so long ago, but those of us who are in authority in the Churches must be mindful of the consequences of our decisions and edicts lest we bring upon ourselves the reproach of our Master who reproved the Scribes and Pharisees with the words "and them that were entering in ye hindered " (Luke 11 v 52).
Praise th6 Lord: When He rebukes His followers, it is not to destroy their endeavour, but to chasten and direct. Peter, out of love for the Master and fear for His safety, challenged the declaration by Jesus of His imminent suffering, death and resurrection, thus incurring those awful words of condemnation “thou art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16 v 23). But Jesus loved Peter and continued to include him with the other disciples, as He exhorted them to deny themselves, to take up their cross and follow Him. More than this, Peter was chosen as one of the three who witnessed the glorious transfiguration of Christ.
"Blessed is the man whom Thou chastenest, O Lord " (Psalm 94 v 12) for out of the set-backs and tribulations experienced by the people of the Hunters Lane Church and the Mission at that time, came a new opportunity - a new endeavour.