Who is: Richard Fothergill?
Richard Fothergill is the overall Director of the Filling Station Trust and network.
Richard was born in Cumbrian town of Kendal which lays in the valley of the River Kent. For many centuries the town was called Kirkbie Kendal, a name derived from its valley location and the visible tower of the the 800 year old Holy Trinity Church, however Richard's parents weren't regular church goes so there was no Sunday School for the young lad and his siblings.
Throughout his schooling Richard was interested in the world around him and even though there was Christian content within the school framework it wasn't until the age of seventeen that he remembers really contemplating it. He says "I don't quite know when I became a Christian but I do remember the school chaplain asking me if I had any thoughts about God? I remember getting really defensive and grumbling under my breath, I mean I always believed in God but I didn't want him to cramp my style! At seventeen you think you know everything don't you!"
From Kendal to Campus:
After leaving school Richard secured a place at Newcastle University to study Geography and moved away from Kendal to campus in Newcastle upon Tyne. It was during this time over the next 3 or 4 years that God also began to speak to him about life and faith. Things that he had heard from school, conversations he had had all began to slip into place and by the time he reached his 21st birthday he had firmly become a Christian.
PR HTB & ALPHA:
After graduation Richard secured a job in public relations and over the next 8 years worked with various PR & Advertising consultancies in London specialising in defence & aerospace companies. He also started to attend Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) and went on one of their introductory courses to find out more about life, faith and the church itself. HTB was a vibrant church with many congregants from all walks of life. It was a place that was growing in stature nationally too with its strategy for outreach and church planting. It was here too that he first bumped into Nick Crawley with whom he would work so closely with in the distant future.
It also had an outstanding vicar in Sandy Millar, who could captivate an audience with his teaching style and oration skills. ALPHA too was making its mark across the country and fast becoming the staple introductory course for enquirers. The former Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, described Sandy Millar (HTB vicar from 1985–2005), as a ‘professor of church planting’.1 In 2005 Sandy was appointed Assistant Bishop in the Church of Uganda by the Most Revd. Henry Luke Orombi, Archbishop of Uganda with the purpose and licence to act as a 'Bishop in Mission' in the London Diocese using his wide experience as a church planter and growth practitioner. This appointment came with the full support and encouragement of the Archbishop of Uganda, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres. 2
It was into this vibrant Anglican church in the heart of the City, with its vision for evangelism, the revitalisation of the church and the transformation of society, that Richard found himself. He attended regularly and helped out with ALPHA through which he met Josephine, a stockbroker in the City who had just come to faith whilst working in New York for a year.
Within the Advertising business he gradually rose through the ranks and after a period of time became an accounts director for D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B), the 4th largest advertising agency in the world at that time [3.] Working in their Westminster office at Knightsbridge he was settled and happy in his work and thought that this was his lot in life. Work was great, church was great and his girl friend was great too - and he loved it! Then one day in 1990 a strange thing happened that brought him up short with God:
"One day the Lord appeared to me by his Spirit in my office in Knightsbridge, I had this amazingly powerful encounter with the Spirit of Jesus, and in this encounter I kept having to open my eyes as it was so bright and powerful and it felt like someone had turned the heating up! It was extraordinary! The Lord spoke directly to me and kept saying 'if you are willing to go for me - these things will happen...' My reaction was 'yeah Lord, you know me, you love me and you know what's best for me - whatever!"
Having received the 'call' to come out of advertising he approached the leadership of the church and began is investigate his options.
Training & Ordination:
In 1991 Richard was accepted for accreditation within the Church of England and later that same year he and Josephine married. They moved from the City to Bristol where Richard was to study theology at Trinity College, an evangelical Anglican theological college. In 1995 when Richard was ordained they took a curacy in the parish of East Twickenham and moved back up country to set up home in St. Stephens Church TW1.
From London to Cape Town:
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 low-rise run-down warehouse in Kirstenhof, about 30 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 Richard and Jo 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.
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 his old friend from HTB, Nick Crawley; Crossnet grew to become an active 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, Jo and Nick continue to work together at the Filling Station Trust. Nick and his wife Lucy continue to head up the team at Crossnet Church.
A Vision of Renewal:
However, it was during a visit back to the UK the summer of 2003, that God had spoken to Richard who at that time was out walking on Kelston Round Hill just outside Bath. He experienced a vision of how God wanted to bring new spiritual life to the Counties of this country; he saw like-minded Christians meeting together in small groups all over the country and as they worshipped the darkness around and over them dissipated. Spurred on by his experience Richard began to meet with a small number like-minded local people in what was to grow and become the first Filling Station meeting. watch a video of this Kelston Round Hill vision
The Filling Station Trust:
There are now 'unity groups' meeting under the banner of Filling Station's all over the country, and abroad too. In 2012 the first French Filling Station opened and in 2015 the first meeting in the United States was opened.
In the Autumn of 2017 a Filling Station opened in Sweden, the first in that Country. Here too there has been organic growth within the Filling Station network, during 2017 eight Filling Station's opened up across the country! In fact, a new Filling Station is opening every 2-3 weeks at present. As requests come into the HQ to open or establish a new Filling Station in an area Richard will make first contact with all prospective groups, liaise with local Church leaders, guide, encourage & support the establishment of meetings wherever they are being considered.
To date there are 92 Filling Station's meeting in operation across 6 nations and Wessex Filling Station, when set up in September 2016, was the 91st Station to open its doors - and shows up as number 77 on the UK map of station locations. There are now over 5,000 people meeting for unity, fellowship, worship and teaching somewhere in the country each month.
Richard and Jo Fothergill have two daughters and live near Bath in Somerset.
1. HTB Church History, CHURCH PLANTS AND PARTNERSHIPS see: https://www.htb.org/about/history
2.Anglican Communion Office, New 'Bishop In Mission' Appointed (Posted on: October 21, 2005) see: http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2005/10/new-bishop-in-mission-appointed.aspx
3. DMB&B was acquired by French firm Publicis and closed in 2002 archives were transferred to the "Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising and Marketing History," part of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University in 1991. Source: Wikipedia: See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%27Arcy_Masius_Benton_%26_Bowles [D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles] under section entitled 'Company Merged and Name Retired'.