Pastor T. D. Dorling
Ass Pastor C. Young
Mr. L. B. Cansfield
Mr L. Cansfield Jnr
Mr T. Cansfield
Mrs F. Cansfield
Mr W. Cansfield
Mrs B. Cansfield
Mr D. Cansfield
Mrs M. Cansfield
Mr O. Barnes
Mrs F. Barnes
Mr J. Scott
Mrs F. Scott
Miss S. Cansfield
Mr. E. Davison
Mrs. E Davison
Mrs E Brunton
T. D. Dorling
1938 to 1945
1945 to 1948
1948 to 1950
1950 to 1968
1968 to 1973
1973 to 1976
1976 to 1981
1981 to 1982
1982 to 1988
1988 to 1989
1989 to 2000
2000 to 2006
2006 to 2007
2010 to date
T. D. Dorling
Miss M. Pitt
In 1903 Thomas Harwood Cansfield was born into a Christian Methodist family and would grow up to experience a mighty call of faith upon his life.
As a youngster Tom took the same step of faith that his parents had, to accept Christ as his Lord and Saviour and grew up in the Ryhope Independent Methodist Church, serving over a number of years as Teacher and Sunday School Secretary, Choir Secretary, Choir Leader and Church Secretary.
As a young man Tom had great interest in the work and service he gladly undertook in his much loved Church. He experienced an increasing thirst for study of the scriptures and for articles and books which helped him understand the truth contained in those scriptures.
Tom had attended Holiness meetings, through the Pentecostal League of prayer, awakening his interest in the Pentecostal experience, but had never experienced this himself. At 32 years of age, seeking greater understanding of the outpouring and working of the Holy Spirit, Tom read the Acts of the Apostles avidly, alongside many articles in Christian magazines. He then read a book called ‘Ever Increasing Faith’ by Smith Wigglesworth.
Tom along with his Father, Lees Ball Cansfield paid a visit to Hebron Tabernacle, the Pentecostal Church in Sunderland, and had a talk with Pastor Tom D. Dorling and his Assistant Pastor Clyde Young. The Pentecostal pastors made plain the Pentecostal teaching and there Tom and his Father formed a great desire to follow this teaching.
In the following months God was working and preparing for a Pentecostal testimony in Ryhope. A week after looking at a building with his father that would meet the needs of the Pentecostal people to open as a place of worship, Tom again met Pastors Dorling and Young, on a tramcar going into Sunderland, and they asked him if he knew of a place that would be suitable to open as Pentecostal Church in Ryhope.
Soon after viewing the building right in the heart of Ryhope Village, by the green, the building was bought by Pastor Dorling and after a few repairs and alterations, the ‘Hermon’ Gospel Hall, 36 The Village, Ryhope was registered as a ‘Place of Worship’ on 1st Dec 1937 and opened on 2nd January 1938 under the support of Hebron Tabernacle, with Thomas Daniel Dorling as Pastor and in fellowship with Assemblies of God.
The name ‘Hermon’ is taken from a mountain in the bible, meaning ‘mountain nose or peak’ a practice of many Pentecostal Churches of that day to take a biblical name as part of their own name, indeed Sunderland Pentecostal Church was named after ‘Hebron’ the city King David used a his capital for a while.
Pastor & Mrs Dorling, moved into the flat above the new hall and Mr & Mrs Cook, the Church caretakers, moved into the flat at the back of the hall on the ground floor along with Assistant Pastor Clyde Young who lodged with them.
So began the establishing of the Pentecostal witness in Ryhope.
For the first year the services were poorly attended, Tom and others supporting the new Pentecostal Church whenever they did not have a service in their own Independent Methodist Church.
In April 1938, at the first ‘waiting meeting’ (seeking God for the baptism of the Holy Spirit) to be held in the new hall by Clyde Young, Tom received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Then in September 1938 the Lord told Tom to prepare to leave Methodism and come fully into Pentecost. This was indeed a hard call - to leave his much loved Church - but Tom was enjoying the Pentecostal experience so much he knew he had a choice to make since the teaching would not be accepted in Methodism. After finishing his year of office as Church Secretary on the 4th January 1939, Tom left his beloved Independent Methodist Church with sixteen other believers, and they were soon established as faithful members in the Hermon Gospel Hall.
It is worthy of mention that the roots, friendships and Christian fellowship have been evident between these two Churches over the years through joint services, Ryhope Churches Choir and Good Friday marches and services and remain strong even to this day.
The New Year began with a campaign taken by Stuart Snoxall and it proved to be a great send off in this new Pentecostal experience.
Over the coming months and years the Lord blessed this Assembly of God’s people with great experiences of the out pouring of the Spirit of God. Prayers were answered, mighty healing miracles took place and the Church membership began to grow.
The war was approaching fast but the Church continued through the war years and the young Church went from strength to strength.
Toward the end of the war, Pastor Dorling needed to leave Ryhope to attend to his business in London, which like many others was in quite a state as the war concluded.
Legal documents for the hall were posted to Church trustees, Dan Cansfield in Italy and Bill Cansfield in Belgium, still serving in the war, and ownership of the hall was transferred to the small congregation with a mortgage to pay over coming years.
Pastor Dorling passed the baton on to Tom, and Tom led the church 1945 to 1948. then Ernie Small looked after the Assembly from 1948 to 1950. In 1950 Tom applied for Pastoral accreditation (an AOG Pastoral requirement) with Assemblies of God fellowship of Churches and led the Church from 1950 to 1968 along side his full time job as a miner until the pits closed and he retired.
In the early days Tom along with Mr Dorling put great store in visiting people in their homes, looking to help them with their needs by praying with them - a great ministry that brought much interest and people to the Church. It has been remarked by many people that Tom was a man of great faith. Anyone one who knew him as their Pastor, friend and faithful example, will tell you of his vision and great trust in God - during his ministry in Ryhope there were countless battles won in the place of prayer, lives changed for the better, healings, miricles, needs met and demons cast out.
As the families of the founder members began to grow, a Sunday school was started. This was followed in later years by a mid-week service for children and great emphasis was given to the children being part of the Church.
George Brunton, who had married Tom & Florrie’s oldest daughter Ena, had a great interest in children’s work. Using his Bedford van with bench seats, he would often be seen around the estates in Ryhope picking up children to bring them to Sunday School.
Many great memories are stored of Christmas parties, Prize Giving Services and Sunday School Treats. Trips with a ‘bag’ of goodies and bottle of pop for a picnic tea at Saltwell Park, Gateshead, Stuart Park, Middlesbrough and Crimdon Dene beach to mention but a few.
As the children grew up, they progressed into the Bible Class and then a youth meeting was begun on a Friday evening.
Numbers grew, adults, children and youth and it soon became apparent that the hall was too small for the growing congregation.
Tom and George, along with other men and women of great faith, prayed about, worked towards and faithfully gave tithes and offerings toward this ambitious vision in order to purchase land and build a new Church.
The cost appeared enormous and the vision seemed great, but God was greater than the needs, plans were drawn up by Derek Cansfield, the builder Sam Pace was given the commission and on the 29th November 1969, a winters day with the snow almost knee deep, a beautiful purpose build Church was opened at the top of Brick Row.
The hall was full and Pastor Clyde Young conducted the service, with Pastor Paul Weaver the guest Speaker, the ‘Sunderland Quartet’ (Paul Weaver, Jennifer Young, Peter Young & Margaret Kirton) from Hebron Tabernacle were guest singers and home grown ‘Ryhope Trio’ (Lilian Davis, Alan Brunton and Sandra Prater) also ministered in song. Alan Brunton spoke at that first Sunday Communion and the Ryhope Trio again ministered in song.
Sadly a great man of faith and longest serving Pastor, Thomas Harwood Cansfield, Mr Cansfield to the younger members and Tom to his peers, did not live to see the great vision come to fruition. He went to be with the Lord, which is far better, in September 1968.
The Pastoral baton was then passed on to George Brunton who project managed the building of the new church and would faithfully serve the growing congregation along side his full time secular role until 1973, when work promotion saw George move his family to Trentham, then pioneer a church in Trentham. A call to full time ministry would see them move to Burnley where George held the Pastorate for many years, before handing the baton over to his own son Jeff.
The friendships, marriages and ministries which developed between the founder members in those early years, continued to serve the Church well over many years, as these bonds were passed to their families and then to their families in turn.
Cansfield, Brunton, Davison, Rowell, Foots, Harrison, Viney, Oakes, Clark and Lee families in the early years, and in later years, the Reed, Reynoldson, Kennedy, Clarke, Lindley, Ingham, Goodrick, Fulton, Anderson, Springate families along with the Pastors and their families, to mention but a few.
Many avenues of service to the community were developed in the new building over the coming years, a brand new mini bus was given and would serve the children and youth work in various outings, camp weeks and activities as well as serve as a direct bus pick up driven by Graham Harrison for many for our older folk to come to the services.
Alan Brunton began a Church magazine with local news and gospel message, he later moved on to Kenley Bible College and took Pastoral responsibilities at AOG Morecambe and later at Whickham and Langley Park Baptist Church.
Edwin Cansfield led the Sunday School activities after George Brunton had left then handed the baton to Moira Cansfield. Sandra Prater led the mid-week children’s Good news Club, later named Adventure Club. Sandra also led a choir which ministered in the church and local district.
David and Margaret Kennedy, Yvonne Ingham along with Moira Cansfield and Sandra Prater formed a singing group and served in the church before Mark and Yvonne emigrated to Australia with their young family.
David & Margaret Kennedy along with Moira Cansfield and Sandra Prater took responsibility for leading the youth work for a number of years, involved in many ‘Christmas Play’ specials, Bonfire Night outreaches, Holiday Camps, Sports Days and notably a joint celebration with Prudhoe Pentecostal Church of the Queen’s Jubilee 1977 at Hawick youth camp in the borders.
In the early years, Ena Brunton, Pastor George Brunton’s wife began a Sisterhood meeting which was organised by Eveline Cansfield when the Brunton family moved to Trentham and in later years Eveline handed the baton on to Joan Merton, Pastor Joe Merton’s wife.
Joan Merton and Grace Reynoldson along with Vera Morse and Dorothy Machin began a mother and toddlers group – many will still remember Grace telling bible stories through Jimmy her very cheerful wooden friend with ginger hair.
Dorothy Machin was also our coordinator for collecting money for Tear Fund children. For many years members of the church have donated money each month and are able to support the education, clothing and send gifts for Birthdays’ and Christmas for children overseas in poor circumstances.
Eveline Cansfield was the Missionary secretary for more than 50 years, before moving to Leicester. She kept us in touch with various Missionaries Worldwide, coordinating prayer requests and financial support.
Great memories remain of ‘Supper’ (FEAST) after Carol singing at Geo & Ena Brunton’s or Edwin and Eveline Cansfield’s, Dan & Peggy Cansfield’s or Eddie and Mildred Davison’s homes and the annual debate that took place that electric blankets and hot water bottles were just for wimps! Sunday evening supper at Edie Rutlands’, Christmas parties and get together evenings at Dan & Peggy Cansfields’ and Christmas parties in our own Church hall – complete with death defying party games especially designed by Sandra Prater. Fun days complete with bouncy castle and lots of food.
Many felt the call of God upon their lives to serve God in the ministry; some via Bible College and moved on to pastor churches or marry pastors serving in churches around the UK – Eunice Cansfield married AOG Pastor John Bromley, AOG Pastor George & Ena Brunton, Beryl Cansfield who married George after Ena had been promoted to heaven, Baptist Minister Alan Brunton, Ruth Lee married AOG Pastor Alan Telfer, AOG Pastor John & Norma Foots and AOG Pastor David & Liz Morse.
Over the following years, different Pastors, their wives and families came adding to the rich tapestry of Church life, each bringing their different strengths to further the work of God in Ryhope.
There have been many weddings, anniversaries, special birthdays, Christmas parties, leaving send-offs, dedications, and water baptismal services, happy occasions as well as the sadness of funerals and yet celebrating lives lived for God’s Glory and with a sense of joy that they had gone to heaven and we would meet them again one day.
Many of the second and third generation families are scattered over the U.K. with some as far flung as Australia. But the Pentecostal witness remains strong in Ryhope and in 2010 entered a new chapter when Stephen Ajiboye took the baton up as Pastor along with his wife Tania and young family.
Together we look forward to God’s rich blessing in Ryhope.