JOHN NELSON PARR
John Nelson Parr, Fleetwood, Lancs. England.
“Incredible”: autobiography of John Nelson Parr — Contents
Chapter Sixteen: Incredible Re-dedication
THE INCREDIBLE NEW BETHSHAN
The old Bethshan was again packed to its utmost capacity on Sundays and plans were obtained for the erection of a new Bethshan Tabernacle to seat about 1,500 people. The co-operation, help and consideration received from Messrs. Steward and Broster in the erection of this magnificent building was absolutely phenomenal. The seating capacity is fourteen hundred and at the opening services in 1958 every seat was taken and an overflow service was held in the old building. After the opening, scores of people attended the meeting who were unable to obtain a seat in the old Bethshan.
Magazine News Report of Opening of the New Bethshan Tabernacle
When Mr. J. Nelson Parr, director of buying at an aircraft factory, walked out of industry into religion he had a “flock” of only 15 people.Under the blessing of God the work has grown considerably and reckoning our Sunday School, Branch Sunday Schools and “Y.E.S.” Centres nearly two thousand Young People and Adults are receiving Bible Training. This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes.
It needed a great sense of vocation to leave a lucrative job to pioneer a new religious movement with such a meagre following. But this was no lost cause
The first meeting was held in Levenshulme Town Hall, Manchester, in 1927 and a year later the first church—the original Bethshan Tabernacle—was built in Crowcroft Road, Longsight, to seat 400 people
It was extended in 1930 and now, while so many churches complain of declining congregations and empty pews, Pastor Nelson Parr had one weekly problem—finding space for more than 800 people who regularly attend the Sunday night services.
This is no longer a problem. For, beside the original church has risen the new, almost startlingly modern Bethshan Tabernacle.
This fan-shaped brick building looks more like a theatre than a church. Architect Mr. Ernest Prestwich, of J. C. Prestwich and Sons, of Leigh, had the task of making his design fit the site as closely as possible, and the new tabernacle has an air of spaciousness.
Cost of the building, with furnishings, is estimated at about £38,000. It is 100 feet long and at its widest part is 154 feet across.
The floor slopes slightly and narrows towards a platform fronted by natural oak panelling and on either side of the platform microphones are concealed behind acoustic panels. Efficient heating is provided by a hot air system.
Daylight streams in through large windows and contemporary light fittings hang decoratively from the blue fibre-board ceiling.
The walls are cream and heavy red linoleum covers the five main aisles.
An outstanding feature of the tabernacle is the square tower, 54 feet high. Inside at the top are loud speakers through which records of bells are played.
High on the church, too, is a neon-lit cross in red with the name of the tabernacle lit up in 18-inch-high blue letters.
Bethshan is one of more than 500 churches affiliated under the title of Assemblies of God of Great Britain and Ireland.
Pastor Nelson Parr did pioneering work to link these scattered churches into one organisation.
There is in this movement a deliberate effort to get away from the normal ecclesiastical pattern. For instance, Bethshan Tabernacle has an orchestra instead of an organ.
“We think an orchestra puts more life into the singing,” said Pastor Parr. “And we have avoided Gothic windows and other ecclesiastical architecture.”
The money raised towards the cost of the new church has come from donations and interest-free loans—no bazaars, whist drives, or other money-raising events.
At our Easter Conventions, which were usually advertised as “Four Days With God” the new tabernacle was packed to its utmost capacity and amazing supernatural Holy Ghost Power and Revival descended on the meetings. People came from all over Britain to these Conventions.
In November, 1959, my beloved partner in sacrifice, sufferings, sorrows and triumphs was called Home. To lose my life partner was the most stunning blow I had ever received. Three words in 2 Kings Ch. 4:8 express my testimony of the character, life and service of my departed wife. “A great woman.” She was a great wife, a great mother, a great disciple, a great follower of Christ, a great pastor’s partner.
Chapter 18: Incredible Moscow