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Sunday School and Early Church in Longbenton

The new church was open in time for Easter Sunday 1956.

In 1939 it had been decided to build a new estate at Longbenton and, by 1940, 150 houses had been built.  The Sunday School Council was concerned that the needs of the children on the estate were not being met and in 1941 secured a hut for meeting purposes in The Roundway.  This was the beginning of Methodism in Longbenton.

It was decided that Sunday School work would be the first priority as a recent canvass indicated that would be the most likely area of growth.  The Junior and Intermediate Departments at Benton were amalgamated to enable Mr E Smith to go to the new Sunday School as General Superintendent.  The Benton Sunday School helped with money for the equipment of the new school until the Circuit could take responsibility.

The Sunday School commenced at 2.30 pm and there were preparation classes every Friday night.  The first deaconess, Sister Annie Newsome, played a very important part in the setting up of the new church and she was followed by Sister Ann Peart at the end of the war.  Sister Ann Peart was followed by the Reverend Leonard Oakley who worked on the estate using the hut in the Roundway from 1951 – 1954.

In September a new minister came, Reverend Raymond Smith, and it was during his ministry that the building of the church on Chesters Avenue was completed.  The congregation transferred from the hut to the church in a procession led by the Reverend Raymond Smith, wearing all his ministerial regalia.

The site for Longbenton Methodist Church was pegged out in September 1955, the stone laying was on September 17th and the new church was open in time for Easter Sunday 1956.  The church had cost £16,160 plus £449 for furnishings.  By that time the Sunday School was so large it met twice on each Sunday.

Editor’s Note – The material for this memory was kindly donated by churchgoers at Longbenton Methodist Church and part of it came originally from a history of the church that was prepared by members.  Since those early beginnings the church has continued to provide a range of activities for local people in both the church itself and the adjoining Youth Centre including: an Over Sixties Club, Men’s Club, Women’s Fellowship, Young Wives, Thursday Club, Nursery group, Junior Boys Brigade, Company Boys Brigade, Brownies, Guides, Youth Club and Saturday Club, all of which have contributed to the social life of the residents of Longbenton.

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