A brief history
Compiled by Shaun Newton 2001
Abridged by Georgina Smith 2004
William Booth founded the ‘East London Christian Mission’ (later re-named the ‘Salvation Army’) in 1865 and by the early 1880’s had ventured north, and a corps was started around in late 1881 / early 1882 in the village.
Differences arose between members of this corps, resulting in the formation of a splinter group, which became knows as the ‘Christ’s Army.’ Having been formed, this new body of believers required a building in which to worship. The evidence to hand, in the form of property deeds, state the Christ’s Army bought land and commenced to build a place of worship.
Nothing else is known of the Christ’s Army other than the mortgage indenture of 1884 which relates to the property. This is the only title deed until 1892 when the Church, now known as the Christian Lay Church (C.L.C.) registered the property on the Bethany Deed (This was due to the fact that Trust Deed for the Bethany Christian Lay Church became a ‘Model Deed’ for the other Christian Lay Churches)
What was known as the ‘Christ’s Army’ became associated with the Christian Lay Church movement (which originated in Sunderland, in 1877), and eventually joined the Sunderland Circuit of the Christian Lay Churches as a member Church, from which time it became known as Hetton-le-Hole Christian Lay Church.
Initially using the Miners’ Hall, in which to worship, the Christ’s Army acquired land on the Avenue, directly opposite the Miners’ Hall. The Christ’s Army bought the land and as it continued as the Christian Lay Church so it continued to build that property in which to worship. The building work was started at the lower end of the street, which was then known as ‘East Avenue’, with the work commencing first on a schoolroom, then two cottages and finally the main chapel itself. It was not until 1889 that the ‘Church’ was opened, with a service of dedication on Saturday 31st August 1889 at 3.00pm.
It is said that the male members, who were miners by profession, would leave the pit after their shift had finished and would comence work building the church. Their wives duly bringing their food to the building site.
This body of believers known as the ‘Christ’s Army’ were not known by that name for long as they soon adopted the name of the ‘Christian Lay Church’ which was followed in time by ‘Independent Methodist Lay Church’ and then the name by which it is known today, ‘Independent Methodist Church.’
Over the years Hetton Church has been involved with many outreach events in the community and beyond. In 1968 our choirmaster, George Kirkbride, led the Northern Counties Confederation Choir at Newcastle City hall where Cliff Richard held a gospel concert. Many of our members were involved in this event which was televised by Tyne Tees Television.
In 1969 the TV cameras were in the church itself filming The Joybells on the 27th April.