Welcome to the Bethel in Hanley. For over two hundred years our church has been here as a lantern of hope in the heart of Stoke on Trent, a place of welcome, of grace and of the love of God in Christ Jesus. Our full name is Bethel Evangelical Free Church, which is a bit of a mouthful, but a very meaningful one.
The name “Bethel” means, “The House of God” in Hebrew. It comes from the Bible, where it was given to the place where Jacob saw a ladder connecting heaven and earth on which angels ascended and descended. The Lord Jesus Christ is the one who connects heaven and earth in himself, God with us.
“Evangelical” comes from a Greek word that means “Good news”, and is often translated “Gospel” in English. The Gospel is the good news that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16), and it is the central message of the Bethel. The Gospel message is not a philosophy or a plan, but a person, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
“Free” is a great word. Freedom is something that people talk about a lot, but the sad fact is that people are enslaved by sinful desires and false gods. Jesus said, “If the Son shall set you free, then you are free indeed”, and that is a central part of the Gospel, that we are set free by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The word “Church” means not a building, but an assembly of people, a community centred on God in Christ. Not that we are not grateful for our building, but it is the Church that makes the building. when the Church was formed in 1810 we didn't have a building.
We are a welcoming, Christ-centred Church meeting in Hanley, at the centre of Stoke on Trent in the Potteries in North Staffordshire. Since 1812, we have been a lantern of hope in the heart of the city.
The Church building is located on the corner of Hope Street and Newhall Street, postcode ST1 5HQ (note that the car park entrance is in Hope Street). When it was opened in 1812 the chapel was called Hope, and Hope Street, which was laid out later, was named for it. A lot has changed since 1812, but the message has not, Jesus Christ is still the only hope for the world.
Services: What to Expect
When you attend a service at Bethel you will find it simple and reverent. We sing hymns that come from the whole range of Christian history. There will be a reading from the Bible, which will then be preached on. The Communion at the end of either the morning or evening service is the central act of Christian worship, calling us back to Christ and his cross, and reminding us that we live because he died. Most services are taken by our Pastor, Gervase N. Charmley, who has been with us since 2010.
We are led by a team of three elders; Pastor Gervase Charmley, Mr. Donald Kesson, and Mr. Neville Gould. We are a congregational church, meaning that the quarterly Church Meeting makes all major decisions for the Church.