Back in the Spring of 1991 – 3 years after relocating our business to the North East of England and whilst also serving as non-stipendiary assistant minister in St. John’s, Snod’s Edge, Shotley Bridge, Co Durham – I felt that the Lord had more for my wife Dorothy and I to do. Some months earlier Bishop David Pytches had been staying with us. I knew Bishop David from my days in the renewal ministry in Herts & Beds where I was an assistant minister at St. Hugh’s, Lewsey. David, having started New Wine, was in the process of planting new churches out from Chorley Wood and suggested that I planted one in our house. Somehow I did not feel that my Diocesan Bishop, Alec, would approve of me starting a new church so I dismissed the idea – perhaps I was wrong to do so. However, a little time after David’s visit I was visiting a customer in Richmond, Surrey and with time before my appointment I went into the local Parish Church for a prayer time. Whilst kneeling in the church asking the Lord what I should be doing I felt Him say, “You are where I put you, do it there”. Do what I asked? In my mind I had an impression of an ellipse together with the words ‘The Northumbrian Centre of Prayer for Christian Healing’.
Following a successful sales call I caught my train back to Newcastle, pulled out my Filofax, drew the ellipse and found that the words fitted neatly inside and so the logo for the Centre was designed. The name for the Centre was making a number of statements; first, giving an idea of the geographic location; second, that the core of everything is to be centred in prayer; and third, emphasising that the healing is in Christ. The latter being extremely important in contemporary society with the rapid growth of New Age and other occult religious practices, plus new medical practices which incorporate a wide variety of alternative and faith healing therapies.
On arriving home I excitedly told Dorothy that we were going to start a healing centre in our home ‘Beggars Roost’. Both Dorothy and I had been deeply involved in Jesus’ ministry of healing since being born again and baptised in the Holy Spirit back in 1975. Dorothy pulled me up short by telling me that I would first have to get permission from our Diocesan Bishop, Alec. That really cooled my ardour. On the Monday morning I met with my vicar, Tim Atkins at 7am for our usual weekly prayer time and told him what I understood the Lord to be asking. “Should I approach the Bishop for you as he was my tutor at college?” asked Tim. I readily agreed and on the Friday afternoon Dorothy and I were sitting having tea with the Bishop and outlining the plan. He accepted us and the idea gracefully, with the proviso that I gained approval for the venture from the Diocesan Exorcist, the Diocesan Adviser on Healing and the Vicar of the Parish in which we lived and that they should sit on an advisory panel. This advisory panel was a great encouragement and help over the following years. Tony Duncan, the exorcist and expert on Celtic Christianity was an amazing ‘seer’ and taught me so much about this ministry as well as befriending me.
The initial objectives or charge for the Centre were:
The first healing service was held on Thursday 5th September 1991 and services have been held every Thursday since then, except for the Thursday between Christmas and New Year, the Thursday after Easter Day and Thursdays in the month of September.
Initially Dorothy did not feel that the Lord was asking her to be involved and so for the first few services I was on my own, to play the piano, lead worship, do the talk on healing, pray for the sick and make the coffee. At that first Thursday I was surprised and pleased at the numbers that turned up. My friend the Revd. Geoff Webster turned up with his wife Cathy and a minibus of people from his congregation at High Fell. So it continued until Chrissie Donaldson, the worship leader at the Baptist church came one Thursday and agreed to take over the worship. What a difference that made!
Following Chrissie’s arrival the team grew in all respects – for worship, for ministry, for speaking, for hospitality and Dorothy actively joined with me in leadership. In 1992 we held our first annual conference at Minsteracres Monastery with my friends the Revd. Tom Jewett and his wife Anne to lead us. Tom and Anne were the wardens of The London Healing Mission at the time.
People came to the centre – people received healing and salvation – the ministry grew. Many of the testimonies from these times are detailed in “The Anointing to Heal” published in 2005.
The teaching on healing that was developed first for our own team and then for taking out to others was collated in “Nine Basic Modules of Christian Healing” published in 2007.
The Centre developed conferences, teaching days, quiet days, creative retreats and workshops, healing days, covering areas of ministry such as:
We were invited to teach on Jesus’ ministry of healing for churches in UK, USA, Sabah, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Bahamas, Uganda, Madagascar, Tanzania, Zambia, South Korea, India, covering conference subjects such as:
In 2000 it was prophetically discerned that David and Karen should take over as leaders of the Centre. As they were not immediately under the authority of the Bishop of Newcastle the Diocesan Advisory Panel was disbanded and the Trustees for the Charity assumed oversight of the work.
In 2007 Dorothy sadly died of cancer. This came as great loss – not just to the family but for a multitude of people for whom Dorothy had played a deep and precious part of their lives.
In 2008 I married again and decided to sell Beggars Roost.
In 2009 the centre relocated to the United Reform Church, in West Denton, Newcastle upon Tyne and at the time of writing this is still there, continuing with healing services every Thursday evening, under the leadership of David and Karen.