The journey of Willows Community Church all started in 1981 when Keith Speck (a graduate of Mattersey Hall Bible College) moved back to Grimsby after his season studying for ministry training with a vision from God to plant an AoG church that reached into the local community with the transforming message of God’s grace.
Keith and his wife Elizabeth began meetings in their home in the village of Laceby, just outside of the town of Grimsby. The church was then known as Laceby and West Grimsby Pentecostal Church (AoG).
The Lord began to bring momentum to these gatherings and numbers began to grow as God added others to the church family. In the early 1980’s the church moved from Beech Court (retirement home) to the Laceby Pavilion (the village hall) while they believed God for their own premises and a place to call ‘home’.
After sensing a call to Cumbria, Keith and Elizabeth Speck transitioned as Andrew and Ruth Mumby took the leadership of the church at the time. After praying for a church building and a period of expansion, God opened the door for the church to own their own building and unofficially took up the name of ‘Calvary church’ at their new venue on the Willows estate, in the west part of the town of Grimsby.
Reg Swinney became Pastor in 1990 after ministering in Scunthorpe. Through the 1990’s the church saw a period of fruitfulness, with souls being won into the kingdom, with a dynamic influence across the west Grimsby and wider north east Lincolnshire area.
Sadly, due to ill health Reg and his wife Maureen had felt the season for leading the church come to a close in 2002 after many fruitful years of serving the church family. Paul Kelley succeeded Reg Swinney as Pastor in the days when the church met in the Calvary church building.
The years that followed were amongst the most challenging in the churches nearly 40 year history. After a long and painful process, it was agreed that a group from within the church part ways with Pastor Paul Kelley and the group that met in the Calvary church building and decided to move elsewhere to worship.
One of the elders of the church Howard Wilkinson, along with a group of others starting meeting at a variety of different venues across Grimsby, until a permanent premises was secured. In the midst of some of the challenges, God’s grace and faithfulness was powerfully at work.
God began speaking to the church about the importance of reaching out into the local community with the Gospel, forming deep and meaningful relationships with community groups and organisations as well as touching many different lives in the area.
Out of a vision to reach the local community, the church changed its name to the Willows Community Church. After being for several years without an appointed church leader, Richard and Amba Keeble came from Portsmouth as Senior Pastors, with a mantle to develop further outreach, community connections and evangelism.
The community church finally got its own church building in 2011 on the current site on the Wingate Road, moving into its strategic, central community venue that was formerly used by the salvation army.
Under the ministry of the Keebles’ the church saw expansion and modernisation, with the emergence of a community-focused, multigenerational church that began to make an impact on the willows estate and beyond, touching different age groups with the love of Jesus.
In 2015 Richard and Amba Keeble received a call to move down Lakenheath to work with an AoG church there, pioneering community projects and outreach. Pastor Richard had sensed a connection with the Bridge church Lincoln (AoG), and the respective churches began strategically partnering together.
Julian Arnold (associate Pastor of the Bridge church), was sent to the Willows to serve the church in the absence of a minister from 2015 and June 2016 as the interim Pastor.
In June 2016, Simon Willits took up the post of Senior Leader after having been involved in ministry in the West Midlands. He felt a call to take the church forward in greater influence, impact and momentum in God’s kingdom purposes on the Willows estate and beyond!
We honour all the Lord has done through the life of this church family in the past, but fundamentally believe that the best chapters in our history are yet to be written!