The assembly situated in the village of Red Row, Northumberland, has the distinction of being the most northerly assembly in England. There are currently four assemblies in the County, and Red Row is the most rural. Glanton Exclusive assemblies were more prevalent in Northumberland, but five have closed in recent years with only one remaining.
Red Row is in an area which once boasted in coal mining but all that has gone, apart from some opencast mining. The coastal area, north of Amble (the nearest town) to Berwick upon Tweed, is classed as an area of outstanding beauty, including Holy Island. (Lindisfarne).
It is difficult to establish a date as to the commencement of the testimony at Red Row. However, in 1910, some believers gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus, meeting in a home. In 1911, a local Methodist Church in the village closed its doors and many of the believing members came to the ‘home meeting’ and learned of the truth of baptism, the breaking of bread, and assembly principles. Several were baptized in the North Sea, less than 2 miles from the village.
Consequently, the house became too small for the assembly so the owner of the house, together with another brother, partners in a bakery business, made a large room available above the bakery. When the saints gathered mid-week, they enjoyed the fellowship, and also the smell of the bread being baked for the next day!
In 1934 a decision was taken to purchase a plot of land in the village from the local colliery company for £52 and a hall was built for £500. The hall is located on the only main road through the village, which now has a bypass.
Believers from Tyneside travelled to Red Row for it’s opening, when Harold St. John and P. McCallum were the ministering brethren, the latter being the architect. Shortly after this, the Burnham brothers, Sidney and Albert, held a series of gospel meetings. Open-air meetings took place in the district and invitations were given out to those meetings. God blessed the effort, as the hall was packed night after night and souls were saved, baptized, and came into fellowship.
At that time, the only employment available was connected with the coal mines, which meant that ambitious young men had to move away, causing an age gap in the assembly. Some older saints used to refer to the assembly as being at Broomhill. This was where the local railway station was, long since closed, which some visiting speakers used, as it was only a short distance from Red Row.
The assembly is near the former RAF station at Acklington and many airmen sought fellowship with the saints, who made their homes open to them. Latterly, it became a prison which was visited by a brother in the assembly until his home-call.
One of the local villages was completely demolished in the early 1970’s and people moved to a new housing estate. This sadly disturbed the close-knit community.
Gospel campaigns have been held over the years with adults and children’s meetings but, sadly, today there is no children’s work undertaken. The Annual Conference was an occasion when believers gathered in good numbers, which was a testimony to the local inhabitants. Because of the smallness of the numbers in the fellowship the last was held in 2010.
The assembly in 1992 reached twenty-two members, but since then, many have passed away or, with age, moved to be nearer family. There are currently nine believers in fellowship.
A series of gospel meetings were held in 2013 in relation to future events. Every home in the four nearby villages was invited, but the response was poor. However, some came from local churches and were challenged, as such teaching is lacking in their respective fellowships. Tracting has been undertaken in the villages in the area with very little response. The believers long to break through the apathy and indifference of the people in the area, sadly a reflection of the days in which we live.
Over the last few years a visitors’ book at the hall has shown many believers coming to the area on holiday, some from as far as Northern Ireland, and this is a real encouragement to the assembly. In 2013, one such couple moved from the South and are now in fellowship.
Prayer is valued for 2014 as the assembly celebrates eighty years since the hall was built. May the testimony be strengthened numerically and spiritually for the Lord’s glory! Brethren pray for us.