Who is: Jo Fothergill?
Josephine Fothergill is Director of Evangelism and Mercy Ministries at the Filling Station Trust, which is directed by her husband and founder of the Trust: Richard Fothergill.
Jo was born in London but grew up in East Sussex after her family moved away from the City. Her parents weren't church goers so she never had the opportunity to go to Sunday School but did attend church at Easter and Christmas when her parents went.
After she completed her schooling she secured a place at Cambridge University and moved away from home to major in Economics.
Prayer in Val d’Isere:
When she was 24 Jo went on a memorable skiing holiday to Val d’Isere in the French Alps, near the Italian border. Set in the Arrondissement of Albertville, Val d’Isere nestles in the Tarentaise Valley. There ski lifts whisk the brave up the mountains to places such as Face de Bellevarde and the Grande Motte glacier, well known for their piste and summer ski runs. However, it is also an area known for heavy snow falls and avalanches which occur both naturally and unnaturally and kill several people every year!
Most natural avalanches occur during the spring time on South facing slopes when the sun warms the snow and causes 'point release' avalanches. In general these are not a significant danger as the snow is wet and heavy and skiers/snowboarders tend not to ski under those conditions. Point release avalanches usually move slowly, starting from an individual point and grow in size as they descend. However, during the cold winter months of avalanches regularly occur on Northern slopes. This is also when the powder is at its best and the slopes are busy and skiing is heaviest. It was during this holiday that Jo had an encounter with an avalanche which made her call out to God in prayer. She remembers this as the "first time I seriously prayed!"
Faith in New York:
A number of years after graduation Jo began a career as a stockbroker for a multinational American Bank and spent a year training in their New York office. However, God had used the experience of the avalanche to speak to Jo's inner person and whilst in New York, aged 27, she came to faith. "It's a long story" she says, "It was a journey over several years, the main wake up call coming when I was caught in [that] avalanche!"
As Jo's year in New York drew to a close she moved back in London to begin working in the companies London office. Jo had been recommended to go to Holy Trinity Brompton and after seeking the church out decided to go on one of its introductory ALPHA courses to find out more about it. This was 1988 and everything was new, Jo began to grow in her new found faith and struck up a friendship with a chap called Richard, who was helping on the ALPHA course. Jo spent another 4 years working in stockbroking in London and during that time she and Richard grew closer.
From London to South Africa:
Jo and Richard married in 1991, the same year that Richard was accepted for ordination within the Church of England. They moved from the City to Bristol where Richard was to study Theology at Trinity College, an evangelical Anglican theological college. After completing his studies in 1993, Richard was ordained as a minister in the Church of England and they took a curacy at St. Stephen's church in the parish of East Twickenham.
Four years later, in September 1997 Richard and Jo accepted a posting to lead a new church plant in Cape Town, South Africa. They would be working within the parish of St John the Evangelist, Wynberg, for one of the five existing Churches that made up the parish. Christ Church was a large Evangelical Anglican church on the Western Cape. Jo and Richard's role was to plant a new 6th church within the parish. It was a inspirational time with God working in many wonderful ways in so many peoples lives. The new church was to be in an old run-down warehouse in Kirstenhof, about 20 minutes from the City Bowl of Cape Town. The small team of 50 people who joined the Fothergill's in this new venture from Christ Church spent the next 6 months re-furbishing the warehouse and its small office complex to make it usable for church meetings and a wider Christian ministry. In 1999 the church, called Church of the Holy Spirit (CHC) was fully founded with the full support of Christ Church, the St. John’s parish and the local area Bishop, Rev. Christopher Gregorowski.
CHC saw many local people coming to faith and the congregation literally growing week by week. During their six-and-a-half years of ministry in South Africa Jo and Richard saw the church grow to over 500 congregants and when they returned to the UK they left a thriving and vibrant church community. Even now Jo feels that South Africa is their second home and they return there regularly for mission and a little R&R. Jo writes:
"Cape Town and South Africa feel like our second home; Richard and I go back each year to take mission trips there. We work with a ministry called Hands at Work that cares for orphans and vulnerable children in the east of South Africa and also minister with a church in Limpopo province that Richard is now patron of.”
On returning to the UK they settled on a new venture for the Church of England in Bristol. There they became joint leaders of ‘Crossnet Anglican Network Church’ with Nick Crawley which grew to become a student church. Now Crossnet is a Community of Christians devoted to resourcing and encouraging discipleship and growth through God’s Word and His Holy Spirit. Today, Richard, Nick and Jo continue to work together at the Filling Station Trust.
The Filling Station:
When Richard and Jo established the Filling Station as a Trust she became responsible for encouraging evangelism across the Filling Station network and for the ‘mercy’ side of the ministries mission. She has a passion too for healing. Having struggled with her own health for several years which was at times, traumatic and hugely challenging, she desires to see people healed as we are both called and commissioned by God to heal in Jesus name. Through her own experiences the Lord increased her empathy and compassion for those who struggle with sickness whether physical, emotional or spiritual.
Nowadays, Jo travels widely speaking at various events about her experiences, faith and healing. She also works on behalf of the Filling Station with the charity Hands at Work Africa, who believe that it is the churches responsibility (both locally and internationally) to look after the poor. They organise for teams to go on short term mission to help in various ways. Jo writes:
As the FS ministry started to grow 7 or 8 years ago I found myself increasingly praying about how we, as a ministry, could be involved with reaching our to the poor. I feel it is something that Jesus commanded us to do. The other thing I had prayed was that we could get involved with a ministry serving the poor and who could cope with us taking out teams to do short term mission work. 'Hands at Work' believe that it is the Church’s responsibility do look after the poor and that is the reason they invite short term teams (as well as longer term volunteers) out to work with them, and to partner with them in what they are doing.
In the last 4 years Jo has organised 3 teams to go out and work with 'Hands at Work'. Everyone who has gone has served the team in amazing ways and everyone has been profoundly touched by what God has done in and through them, through coming alongside the poorest of the poor.
Jo plans to take more short term mission teams out to South Africa in the coming years.
Jo and Richard live near Bath in Somerset and have 2 daughters.