In 1932 Granville and Esther Ralphs, came to live in Rainhill. Mr. Ralphs had been made redundant from his job in Westhoughton but found employment as a clerk at Cronton Colliery. They were both committed Christians and began to hold cottage meetings in their home at 18 Ivy Farm Road, Rainhill. In order to contact people they began visiting the neighbourhood inviting people to come to their home and held open air services in the area, singing with the aid of a little portable organ.
God blessed their endeavour, and in due course people came in, lives were changed and they felt the need for larger premises. They began to sell the Christian Herald magazine round the district. It sold for 1½d. which gave them a profit of ½d. per paper. The money was saved until they were able to buy a plot of land in Longton Lane for £50. It was a while before funds were available to build on that land but in 1934 a wooden building was completed at a cost of £450! It was called Rainhill Holiness Mission. Mr. & Mrs. Ralphs led the work ably assisted by Fred and Elsie Mather.
At that time Sunday was a very busy day, services being held as follows:-
Prayer Meeting 8.00 am
Sunday School classes 10.30 am
Open Sunday School 2.00 pm
Believers Meeting 3.15 pm
Open Air Meeting or Prayer Meeting 5.30 pm
Evening Service 6.30 pm
Mr. Ralphs longed to see the church full but sadly that happened for the first time at his funeral in 1948. The church was full and people lined the road from the church in Longton Lane to the grave in St. Ann’s churchyard. He was obviously a very well respected and godly man.
Fred Mather took responsibility for the church after Mr. Ralphs’ death and he tried to purchase land between the church and the bungalow next door. The owner, a Mr. Richard Warburton, was initially unwilling to sell but eventually agreed and everything was completed just days before he died. God’s hand was certainly in that matter as it provided room for the later expansion of the church.
In 1955 the church felt the time was right to call a full time pastor. They had links with Emmanucl Bible College in Birkenhead, as students from the college had supported the church from time to time by coming to preach. One of those students, Victor Trinder, took over the pastorate in 1956. Victor moved into lodgings in Rainhill and was often seen pedalling his push bike around the area. He had plans to marry and the church bought a manse at 16 Brookfield Avenue, Rainhill, where Mr. Trinder his wife Margaret, and later their two daughters lived. During his ministry the church had another name change – Emmanuel Church.
On the departure of Victor Trinder, Rev. Norman Wade, also a former Emmanuel student, was inducted as the pastor. During his ministry it was evident that the wooden building was inadequate and was curtailing many activities which the church would like to have launched. At Easter and Christmas it was impossible for everyone to get inside. The decision was taken to build a new church on the land which they owned at the side of the mission. A newspaper report at the time carried the headline “The do-it-yourself builders.” The congregation took on not only the financial commitment but, by obtaining some very low cost materials and with very little outside help, they worked together to complete the building. The pastor, Norman Wade, was regularly seen in his boiler suit and wellingtons working alongside others on the building site. At its opening the church was re-named –Trinity Evangelical Church.
After a nine year ministry Mr. Wade moved on and the church had two relatively short pastorates – Rev. Bryan Brown followed by Rev. Frank Robinson.
In 1981 Rev. William Campbell accepted the call to become pastor of the church. God truly blessed the church under his ministry and numbers increased considerably. This led to a further decision being made to extend the church premises.
By demolishing the wooden structure and re-building over the whole area, a larger church with additional facilities were provided. The demolition of the wooden building was an emotional event for many who had been blessed in it over many years. It was a huge project to rebuild and the church coped with many unusual situations for worship! During this time the church was “turned round” and the back entrance became the front entrance! Some special events were held in Longton Lane School but the majority of activities were carried out by overcoming many obstacles! The new church was opened on 20th October 1987.
Over the years we had several periods without a minister and Les Barron, Maurice Lee and Graham Lunt, each the church secretary at the particular time, led the church.
In I984 the church was officially affiliated to the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (F.I.E.C.)
Another short pastorate followed when Rev. Eddy Inglis led the work. In 1996 the Rev. Jim Mollitt was invited to become the minister of the church and he led the work up to November 2012.
Throughout its history the church has always encouraged the work among young people. We have always had a Sunday School and week-night activities for children and young people. Sunday School anniversaries and outings have been a regular feature, and in earlier years, the annual march round the district led by a band was always enjoyed. We had a very large Covenanter and Juco Group for very many years.
As we celebrate 75 years of witness, we thank God for his faithfulness. Only eternity will reveal the true results. Many lives have been touched by the love of God and we trust that the witness will be continued in the years to come.
Rev. David Wilkinson from September 2014 to July 2017