The church began as a children’s holiday club that met at the Junior School in 1991. It was run by St Mary’s church as part of their service to people in south Rushden. That first holiday club had over 220 children in the week.
The holiday club was such a success they started a Sunday club in September of that year.
Revd Rod Lee, now retired, was curate at St Mary’s during that time and oversaw the club. He said: “It started out to be just for the children, but more and more of the adults came. You could tell that God had plans.”
The next month was the first family service, that continued monthly until August 1992, the next month they began an all age service. For the first time the 40 adults had their own class.
The church continued to grow, so much so that in 1995 Revd Alan Smith, the then incumbent of St Mary’s, said that Whitefriars had developed into a church in its own right.
Over the years a tots group was developed, a basketball team formed, a youth minister hired, mid-week activities for the youth developed, Alpha courses ran and home groups began.
As a natural consequence of the growth, in 2006 Bishop Ian, the then Bishop of Peterborough, held the first confirmation service there.
Finally, in 2008 Whitefriars was officially designated the parish of ‘Whitefriars, Rushden’, out of the parishes of St Mary and St Peter.
The current vicar, Revd Chris Youngman, said “It is wonderful to look back and appreciate the vision of those who planted the church, the dedication of those who nurtured and developed it.”
It was a real party atmosphere at Whitefriars with many people who had moved from Rushden returning to celebrate with the church family. Bishop John spoke, a cake was cut and a time capsule was buried, to be opened in the next 25 years.
People had cake and a glass of wine, some brought picnics, and the children played games in the field.
Children are still very much a vibrant part of this church, taking part in the burying of the time capsule, welcoming the visitors, and some are even are part of the worship band.
The lively evangelical church still meets every Sunday at the Junior School and is an active part of the community in Rushden.
From the Celebration day flyer: “Until Whitefriars became a parish in its own right, everything was a work in progress. The original group consisted of a curate, three lay leaders and around 45 children. We had no plans to move outside the age range of 5 to 11.
But God had other plans, and within months we were to have monthly family services and went all age after 12 months.
There were challenges. Like a new child, we went through the time of needing support from mother (St. Mary’s) to becoming more independent and eventually becoming an independent individual.
It is sometimes difficult to remember everyone who has been connecting with Whitefriars over the years: it is so heart-warming to have someone say that they visited and remained because of the welcome they received or because of some suitable word that was given to them while they were with us.
It is also good to see that young people are coming to faith and then taking their faith with them: a number of our groups have met on days other than Sunday, showing that circumstances might have been preventing some from meeting on Sunday for worship. They were able to meet at some other time in the week for prayer and Bible study”. “