|Department of Religious Studies, Furness College, Lancaster University LA1 4YG.|
Thumbnail sketches of the four case study churches
Meeting in a very large and impressive medieval building, this is the senior Anglican church in Kendal and generally regarded as the Parish Church for the town. As such, it is the church in which civic ceremonies take place. Its worship is largely traditional and liturgical, and an ‘aesthetic’ of worship is maintained, not least through a semi-professional choir. In terms of theology and churchmanship Holy Trinity is ‘broad’, encompassing both conservative and more liberal positions.
Parr St Evangelical
The largest independent evangelical church in Kendal, this church is rooted in the Brethren tradition. In recent years they have introduced a full-time paid elder who takes a pastoral and teaching role. Self-consciously ‘evangelical’ and somewhat suspicious of the charismatic movement, this church places great emphasis in its life and worship on the authority of God’s Word (the Bible, preaching and teaching). It emphasizes human sinfulness, Christ’s atoning work, and salvation through faith.
New Life Community Church
An independent church established in the late 1970s by evangelical Christians who had been influenced by the charismatic movement. The Holy Spirit has a prominent place in the life and teaching of this church, and Spirit-inspired participation by members of the congregation is a feature of its worship. The church also has a very active cell group network to which nearly all members belong. The church is run by a ministry team including one full-time and two part-time elders.
A small chapel with early modern origins, the Unitarian chapel maintains a traditional style of worship, but its life and teaching are moving in a radical, subjectivized direction encouraged by its current full-time minister. Whilst almost all members of the congregation dissociate themselves from Trinitarian Christianity, they hold a range of views, ranging from fairly traditional theism to much more ‘New Age’ and exploratory forms of spirituality.