A SHEFFIELD church of more than 1,000 people – and growing – will take over the City Hall this weekend to celebrate its 20th anniversary, bringing along Britain’s Got Talent finalists and a symphony orchestra.
Hope City Church was started by two Australians when they moved to the city and now runs The Megacentre, a converted warehouse, in Bernard Road, combining three sessions of worship every Sunday with conferencing facilities, children’s play centre and daycare nursery.
Every year it stages a Night of Honour that pays tribute to Sheffield’s unsung heroes – children, community organisations, volunteers and carers and the last was held at the City Hall.
On Sunday at 6pm, it’s back to the same place for a celebration of 20 years since pastors Dave and Jenny Gilpin started the church in the John Barnett Youth Centre in Waterthorpe with only themselves, their baby son and an ad in a local newspaper saying: ‘Aussie church starting.’
The evangelical church has congregations in Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham, Lancashire and Ghana and plans to start another in Frankfurt, Germany within the next year.
All British congregations will be attending the anniversary celebrations will include performances from the Harrogate symphony orchestra, local singer-songwriter Philippa Hanna, and X-Factor finalists Strike as well as the Hope City Theatre Company. The event is free.
Dave Gilpin said: “It’s been a great 20 years of Hope City Church – we’re going strong in Sheffield and seeing brilliant things across all of our cities.
“It’s going to be a brilliant night to really honour what has been done in the church, and to celebrate with the incredible city of Sheffield all the things we have seen and done, and the hundreds of lives we’ve seen changed for the better over the years.”
Former council leader Paul Scriven said Hope City Church “really has helped so many people in Sheffield and is a beacon of social justice in the city.
“My limited involvement through the Night of Honour ceremonies I have attended showcase the work it does across the city to ensure local people have a voice and hope.”
Lord Mayor Sylvia Dunkley and Labour council leader Julie Dore will be at the City Hall.
As well as hosting the Night of Honour Ceremonies in Sheffield, Liverpool and Leeds every year, the church runs the Storehouse Project which distributes emergency food to underprivileged families.
It also launched City Hearts, which provides a Safehouse for victims of human trafficking, and a residential rehabilitation programme for young women with problems such as eating disorders and addictions.
Hope City has also released two albums, the latest produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Elliot Kennedy who attends the church, and has produced two television series shown on UCB TV. Dave Gilpin presents a Saturday morning breakfast show on Premier Christian Radio in London.