Who is Gareth Sherwood?
Gareth Sherwood is the CEO of the Bournemouth YMCA, he is also one of the speakers at the years annual Arise 2019 Conference - alongside Roy Crowne, Gavin Calver and Mark Ritchie, plus he is also an associate pastor at Springbourne Christian Centre, Bournemouth.
Gareth was born in Llantrisant, in the county borough of Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales. Even though it's a small village in the valleys of Wales it's famous for hosting the UK HQ of The Royal Mint, and the Royal Mint Experience.1 The later is an impressive visitor centre which attracts thousands of tourists each year who come to explore the 1100 year heritage of Britain's oldest manufacturing organisation, its coinage, and explore the vast exhibition centre.
Born into Ministry:
Gareth's parents were both active Christian's, his father served as an Elim Pentecostal Minister for 50 years before his retirement, so the young lad had a firm foundation upon which to flourish. It also meant that the family moved house a lot as ministry opportunities arose within the Elim church. That also meant that Gareth had to get to grips with changing schools as they moved to a new pastorate.
In retrospect, Gareth reckons he became a Christian at about 3 to 4 years old, he tells us:
"I remember praying with my mother on a Sunday evening after hearing, and responding to, a gospel message."
He also remembers being filled with the Holy Spirit as a child, and beginning to experience the gifting that the Spirit brings and a particular memory is when he began speaking in tongues when he was around 6 years old. As he grew he continued walking with God as he read his Bible, reflected on it’s meaning - both for himself, and the places he lived in, and applied it to his life! This gave him a growing passion to share his experiences, and faith, with others.
A Servant Nature:
He would also volunteer to help out in church, learning how to do the PA aged just 11 years old, and engaging in street evangelism from the age of 14 onward. He continued to carry a passion to demonstrate and articulate the Gospel - the very 'message of Jesus', and the closeness of the Kingdom of God. As his confidence grew he became increasingly interested in apologetics, and finding ways to engage in questions and to inspire people - meaningfully - with the Christian faith.
The Royal London Hospital:
In the early 1990's Gareth moved to Chelmsford, Essex, and after graduating from school was accepted at The Royal London Hospital to begin 5 year of study in medicine. The Royal London is a large, internationally renowned, teaching hospital in Whitechapel, East London and is part of Barts Health NHS Trust.2 In 1999 he successfully qualified as a hospital doctor. He continued working full time as a hospital physician until February 2007 specialising in oncology. However, he also began some additional studies at Keele University in Medical Ethics and Law.
A Higher Calling:
Alongside his medical studies Gareth continued growing his faith and on one occasion during a March For Jesus celebration he met a young lady, Sonja, who transformed his life. Gareth and Sonja were to be married in 2001.
During this busy period of life, Gareth and Sonja attended Chelmsford Elim Church and helped re-establish SYM (Schools Youth Ministries), a Christian Schools work in Essex dedicated to helping schools in pastoral support for young people, and providing education on Christian responses to ethical and social issues.3 This work grew until it became full time in February 2007 for 6 months, during that time Gareth began sensing a call of God upon his life towards full time Christian ministry.
In the summer of 2007, he was asked by his the leaders of his church to consider taking on the youth pastors role within the church - something he had volunteered in since joining the church in 1992. After much prayer he agreed to take on the challenge and so began a new chapter in his life.
The Hand of Blessing:
Gareth threw himself into this fresh ministry challenge; the youth work which had seen a regular dozen young people attending began to grow and within 6 months had risen to over 60 young people! The growth continued and within a year a small revival had hit the youth work with over 150 young people through the doors per week, it was clear God was blessing the work.
Gareth was put forward for the Elim Church Minister-in-Training program and over the following years his church ministry work developed.4
In 2013 Gareth was asked by Elim to take on, and work with, the church in Dundee in Scotland, a move which God made very clear to the whole family was part of his plan. It was here Gareth developed a taste for what God can do in a near hopeless situation in a city with little resources. Within 3 years God had turned around the church in Dundee establishing it as a critical piece of the compassion infrastructure of a city. It remained relatively small but had influence across the whole community. The church has now moved to a new location in Swan House under new leadership.5
Whilst at Dundee Gareth wrote an article for Flame International's June 2013 Burning Issues magazine. Flame International is a UK based charity with a vision to see people set free from the pain and trauma of war, terror or oppression.6 Entitled "Under Pressure" Gareth's article was given a 4 page spread which talked about his experiences with stress as a Doctor, and as a Pastor, and the marriage of the two:
I have worked in both the medical field as a hospital physician ... and now in ministry ... as a church leader. It has been my privilege and perhaps sometimes burden... to be able to serve people in some of the most traumatic and stressful situations life can throw at them.
As a doctor you work on the front-line of crisis in health, being the bearer of both the bad news and good news; being the place where the buck stops and decisions rest; where life is saved and life is lost; where the decisions made are things you live with, learn from and sometimes, where experience has not yet taught you foresight, fail to grasp the gravity of the moment until your patient or their relative breaks down in tears.
As a minister my concern is also for the spirit, where I believe the mind finds the securest of roots and the unshakeable foundations of faith, hope and love; in the words of [Saint] Paul these are indeed the three that remain. Where I have seen someone holding on to one or more of these, I’ve seen a strength to endure what has crushed others, and an ability to face reality without being crushed by it.7
Before moving to Bournemouth, and after leaving Scotland, Gareth ministered as an associate pastor at both Ilford Elim Church, London and at Brentwood, Essex. It was during that period that he was invited to apply for the role as Chief Executive Office (CEO) of the Bournemouth YMCA which he began in September 2018.
The heritage of the YMCA as a Christian movement is one built upon the principles of uniting disciples, and extending the work of Jesus in the world. The YMCA's founding statement called: 'the Paris Basis 1855'8 - is an article adopted by the delegates of the First YMCA World Conference in Paris in 1855, it was reaffirmed once again by the 6th World Council of YMCA's in 1973: - and is the amazing foundation stone of the world movement.
The Paris Basis resonated strongly with Gareth as it encapsulates the Gospel and the intentions of the YMCA to help and encourage young men in their faith and point those who are seeking to Jesus. He relishes his new role and the position it affords his to speak into peoples lives and he tells us that he "looks forward to developing it within the local area".
After moving to Bournemouth, Gareth was invited to become one of the leadership team at Springbourne Christian Centre as a bi-vocational associate minister alongside senior minister Mark Petrauskas, and fellow associate pastor Malcolm Hathaway. Gareth and Sonja have two children Jack and Naomi, who are relishing their time on the South coast.
Wessex Filling Station:
As Gareth comes to speak at the Filling Station Wessex he is going to focus on 'Going on with God.' It is the final part of our Discipleship 2019 series and we are looking forward to what he has to bring.
He will be coming to us hot off the back of the Arise 2019 Annual Conference so it will be exciting to hear what was achieved across UK churches during this 11-day evangelism campaign, inspired and hosted by Amnos Ministries since 2015.10
- The Royal Mint and Royal Mint Experience: See - https://www.royalmint.com/
- The Royal London Hospital | Barts Health NHS Trust: See - https://www.bartshealth.nhs.uk/the-royal-london
- SYM Chelmsford: Schools and Youth Ministries. see - https://symchelmsford.org/
- Elim Pentecostal Church: see - https://www.elim.org.uk/
- Dundee Elim church: see - http://eliminscotland.org.uk/church/dundee/
- Flame International: A UK charity with a vision to see people set free from the pain and trauma of war, terror or oppression. See - http://www.flameinternational.org/about/
- Burning Issues magazine June 2013. To read or Download see: http://www.flameinternational.org/media/
- The Paris Basis - 1855: The continuing basis of the work and witness of the Young Men’s Christian Association is expressed in the Paris Basis, as adopted by the delegates of the First World Conference in Paris in 1855, and reaffirmed by the 6th World Council of YMCAs in 1973. To read the Paris Basis please see - https://www.ymca.int/who-we-are/mission/paris-basis-1855/
- Springbourne Christian Centre is an Elim church and can be found on 50 Curzon Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH1 4PP. For more information see - https://www.springbourne.org/site/
- Arise Annual Conference: Arise is an exciting 11-day evangelism campaign hosted annually by Amnos Ministries to help bring revival to this nation through training, equipping and releasing evangelistic manpower. For more information see - https://www.arise-europe.org/