On October 5th 2014 we changed our name to Hope Church, Winchester. Since the early 1990’s we had been known as Winchester Family Church and for the many people who have only ever known us as Winchester Family Church or ‘Winfam’, it may seem a strange thing to do!
In the early 1990’s the church received a prophetic word that led to us buying what is now the Middle Brook Centre (MBC) in the centre of the city. The prophecy said we would obtain ‘a visible, significant building in the city centre.
It will be passed by all who come to Winchester and will be as well-known as the Cathedral’. Subsequently the old bingo hall in Middle Brook Street came onto the market and the church bought it and refurbished it. For many years the church owned two buildings, one in Stanmore Lane (used principally as the church offices) and the MBC (used by the church mainly on Sundays and hired out during the week). During this period we developed good relationships in and around the city.
Over recent years there have been many changes in society. One of the saddest changes is the rapid breakdown in family life. Whilst we are committed to promoting a biblical view of family life for many people, especially those outside the church, the word ‘family’ now provokes a negative reaction.
Yet becoming Hope Church is much more than just a name change… In the Bible names are significant. We read of names being changed as a result of God speaking and doing something new.
In the early part of 2013 God spoke to us about selling our premises in Stanmore Lane and moving all of the church activities into the MBC. The church had fallen between two stools as it was neither a church serving the Stanmore estate nor was it a city centre church. In a remarkable series of events God enabled the relocation of the whole church into the MBC. To mark this moment we changed our name to Hope Church in 2014 and focused our attention on replanting the church in the heart of the city.
It goes without saying that what we call ourselves says something about us. We live in a world where many people are desperately looking for hope. Everywhere we turn we come across people putting their hope in the flimsiest of things. The Bible says they are without hope because they are without God, who is the God of hope. Becoming Hope Church tells everyone, ‘come amongst us and you will find real and lasting hope for today and the future’. This hope isn’t wishful thinking. It is based on God: a Father who loves us and has given us rich and precious promises; on Jesus his Son who, through our faith in Him, makes God’s promises secure and the Holy Spirit who imparts and then sustains us in this living hope. This is available to all who come to Hope Church. Our desire is to build a grace-filled community of Jesus followers bringing good news to Winchester and beyond…
Interestingly the prophetic word back in the 1990’s also said, the building in the centre of the city ‘will be a beacon in the darkness, a place of freedom for the bound-up, a place of healing for the sick and a place of HOPE for the hopeless!’ At the time the prophecy was given the church had not even considered buying the Middle Brook Centre let alone thought about changing the name to Hope Church, Winchester. Yet as we look back we can see that God had marked out the path for us long before it happened – His ways are, indeed, beyond tracing out!
A late member of the church, Reg Hall, wrote a fantastic book giving a short history of the church up to around 2005. ‘Things Are Different Now’. Click here for a free download, it’s a great read!