Manchester City Mission is an active charity that has been operating in the heart of Salford for over 180 years.
Manchester City Mission was founded in April 1837. The first Chairman, Isaac Crewdson, gathered a group of Christian men from the Manchester area to form an evangelical organisation based on the newly-founded ‘City Missions’ which were flourishing in other major cities.
The purpose of Manchester City Mission was to unite all Christians within the city with the end aim of proclaiming the good news. The need was great. The population of the Manchester area was growing rapidly due to the industrial revolution. Families struggled with poor quality housing and were poorly fed. The daily grind of work and poverty left little desire for God.
By the end of its first year, MCM had received gifts of £1,800 and had engaged 29 missionaries to visit ‘districts’ of 400 families each, to present the Gospel once a month, and offer spiritual, physical and material support from a ‘Poor Fund’. Like today, the missionaries met with people at the point of their need. By 1860 MCM had 88 missionaries, including Deaconesses, whose task it was to ‘advance the domestic welfare and spiritual instruction of the most degraded and destitute, especially women’
In the late 1800s there was an emphasis on developing ‘house’ or ‘cottage’ meetings which naturally led to the building of Mission Halls, unfortunately much of the history of MCM was lost when the Deansgate headquarters were destroyed in the Blitz of 1940/41. Following the war MCM flourished, and the missionaries and Mission Halls provided much spiritual guidance and support for many families. ‘Telephone Church’ was developed providing Christian messages over the phone and some of the Mission Halls opened ‘Coffee Bars’ to reach out to their neighbours.
As the local authorities committed to slum clearance through the 1960s-1980s, many MCM properties were demolished and rebuilt, consolidation of some halls took place and led to the building of The Windsor Christian Centre in Salford, now the headquarters of Manchester City Mission. Some halls went on to become independent and with time some closed.
The 1980s saw town centre evangelism develop and in 1993 the the executive of MCM felt that God was calling them back to its roots to ‘engage in front line evangelism in ways that are relevant and effective for the age in which we live.’ MCM took the Gospel to Prisons, Market stalls, Docklands, and doorsteps.
The 21st century has seen current MCM Director, Terry Durose, introduce the concept of three basic values for all MCM projects. Incarnation, Compassion and Proclamation. Our Groundbreakers team take the Christian message into schools, the Street Soccer team (now the independent charity Street Soccer Academy) took football skills and the Gospel to young men in the city. The Windsor Drop In Centre was opened and the Narrowgate Emergency Night Shelter was developed. The Operation Joy team work with the homeless on the streets of Manchester and the 4Site staff with traveller communities. We have workers going into residential homes as part of the Dawn Project, and our Restart workers are reaching out to the female sex workers in our city. Many have left life on the streets and gone into accommodation and many have told us that they have come to know the saving love of Jesus.
March 2020 saw the Covid-19 pandemic hit our nation. By the end of the month all nightshelters had been closed and Government launched the “Everybody In” scheme, our Narrowgate team was involved in supporting our guests during this time, albeit in a different venue. This has been a difficult period and the Mission has had to adapt to the new situation we find ourselves in. The Narrowgate shelter remains closed, but the Narrowgate Support Hub and Next Stage Housing projects have flourished. Groundbreakers has developed an online presence that reaches far beyond its physical capacity, project Dawn is using new technologies to enter residential homes and Operation Joy and Restart are ministering to the most needy in our communities. Nourish, a new project, has been developed to address the food poverty crisis affecting families across Greater Manchester.
Although the projects and presentation may have changed, Manchester City Mission remains faithful to that original focus of meeting people at their point of greatest need and proclaiming Our God Saves.