The History of Avenue St Andrews URC

History of Avenue St Andrew’s URC

This church was formed on October 5th 1986 from the congregations of Avenue URC and St. Andrew’s URC. The early days of this new enlarged congregation, of over 300 members, were concerned with merging organisations of both churches. In 1992 the church held celebrations to mark the centenary of the Avenue Church. Having two full time ministers was unusual for a church, and when Derek Cole retired he was not replaced. In the 1990’s, Tony Spring moved on, and after a lengthy interregnum Cliff Bembridge became the minister. Under his leadership the church was modernised. Pews and choir stalls were removed, and chairs installed. The halls were reordered to suit the purpose of an outward looking and serving church. This was entitled Project 2000. Organisations using the church, formed by church members, included The Avenue Centre, The Multicultural Centre and The Rent Deposit Scheme. The church has had two Church Related Community Workers, (CRCW) to help with its outreach. In 1998 the church held the national celebrations to mark the 250th anniversary of the death of one of its sons, the hymn writer Isaac Watts. Services were broadcast on the radio and television, and many activities, including an exhibition were held in Southampton. With a declining number of ministers in the URC, church groupings were set up, and Avenue St Andrew’s became part of the South West Hants group, sharing ministers with Freemantle, Isaac Watts and Chandlers Ford URCs. Avenue St Andrew’s gained Tim Searle, and when Cliff moved on, he was replaced with the first female minister in the history of all our ancestor churches, Rev. Dr. Sarah Hall.

Ministers of Avenue St Andrew’s URC

1986-1994 Rev A. J Spring and Rev. Derek Cole

1995-2006 Rev. Cliff Bembridge

Ministers of the South West Hants Group

2006-2011 Rev. Cliff Bembridge

2006-2017 Rev. Tim Searle

2013-present Rev. Dr. Sarah Hall