Welcome Evangelical Church
Thank you for stopping by and reading about our church background and beliefs. You'll also meet some of our staff who, by the grace of God, help run things at the Welcome.
If you have any queries or issues you would like to raise, please contact us by clicking the button below. We look forward to having you with us at our next service.
History of Welcome Evangelical Church
Over 130 Years of Faithful Service to God’s Work in the Woodvale Community of Belfast
The Welcome’s story begins with the famous missionary Amy Carmichael. Hailing from Millisle, Amy is best known for her work in India, founding the Dohnavur Fellowship.
In the mid 1880’s Amy started a successful Sunday morning class for the ‘Shawlies’ (the mill girls of Belfast who wore shawls instead of hats). This was in the church hall of Rosemary Street Presbyterian.
Amy’s work among the Shawlies grew and grew until they needed a hall to seat 500 people. At this time, Amy saw an advertisement in 'The Christian' where an iron hall could be erected for £500 that would seat 500 people.
A donation of £500 from Miss Kate Mitchell and a donation of a plot of land from one of the mill owners saw the erection of the first Welcome Hall on the corner of Cambrai Street and Heather Street in 1889.
Amy continued at the Welcome until she received a call to work among the mill girls of Manchester in 1889.
John Johnston - 1926 to 1959
Unfortunately by 1926, much of the evangelistic outreach of the Welcome had ceased. That is until Mr John Johnston was asked by a Church of Ireland Minister, Cannon Warren of St. Silas’ to use the Welcome to touch people in the area.
Known as a man of prayer, Mr Johnston started in a small back room to hold Faith Mission Prayer Union Meeting. He then proceeded to start a boys Bible class, then a girls class, followed by Gospel services and finally a Breaking of Bread service on the Lord’s Day morning.
Slowly the Welcome changed from a simple out-reach to mill girls, to a church with all its various services. Mr Johnston faithfully ministered to the Woodvale area for 40 years and had the joy of presiding over the opening of the current Welcome building which was erected in 1959.
Robert Mackey - 1965 to 1970
The Welcome was then pastored for five years (1965-70) by Robert Mackey, under whose leadership the Welcome changed its name to the Welcome Evangelical Church.
Edward Young - 1980 to 1997
The next major pastor to minister to the Welcome was Mr Edward Young who had been a missionary in Senegal for 20 years, he was inducted in 1980. Pastor Young was to see the Welcome take another step forward with the installation of a Baptismal Tank in 1982.
Pastor Edward Young retired from full responsibility in 1997, and the services were carried on by many gifted speakers. The pastorate was later filled by two others who only stayed for a few years each. The congregation sought the Lord to send a man of His choice to take up the reins, and to carry the work forward.
Jonathan Clarke - 2006+
In the beginning of January 2006 Pastor Jonathan Clarke was brought to the attention of the Welcome, a young man with a wife and a son, who was born and reared in the area.
It so happened that in April 2006 Jonathan had left the Elim Church in Randalstown, where he had served as pastor for three years believing that his time there was at an end. The church oversight after having several discussions with Pastor Clarke, decided to give Jonathan a call to the ministry in the Welcome.
So on 28 May, 2006 Pastor Clarke accepted the call and took over the full responsibility of the Welcome Evangelical Church.
Statement of Faith
Read our full Church Constitution here.
There is one God, who exists eternally in three distinct but equal persons - The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is unchangeable, holy, just, wise and love. He is the almighty Creator, Saviour and Judge who sustains and governs all things according to His sovereign will for His own glory.
2. THE BIBLE
God has revealed himself in the Bible, which consists of the Old and New Testaments alone. Every word was inspired by God through human authors, so that the Bible as originally given in entirety the Word of God, without error and fully reliable in fact and doctrine. The Bible alone speaks with ﬁnal authority and is always sufﬁcient for all matters of belief and practice.
3. THE HUMAN RACE
All men and women, being created in the image of God, have inherent and equal dignity and worth. Their greatest purpose is to obey, worship and love God. As a result of the Fall, every aspect of human nature has been corrupted and all men and women without spiritual life, are guilty sinners and hostile to God. Every person is therefore under the just condemnation of God and needs to be born again, forgiven and reconciled to God in order to know and please Him.
4. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
The Lord Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, and lived a sinless life in obedience to the Father. He taught with authority and all His words are true. On the cross He died in the place of sinners, bearing God’s punishment for their sin, redeeming them by His blood. He rose from the dead and in His resurrection body ascended into Heaven where He is exalted as Lord of All. He intercedes for His people in the presence of the Father.
Salvation is entirely a work of God’s grace and cannot be earned or deserved. It has been accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ and is offered to all in the Gospel. God in His love, forgives sinners whom He calls, granting them repentance and faith. All who believe in Christ are justiﬁed by faith alone, adopted into the family of God and receives eternal life.
6. THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit has been sent from Heaven to glorify Christ and to apply His work of salvation. He convicts sinners, imparts spiritual life and gives a true understanding of the Scriptures. He indwells all believers, brings assurance of salvation and produces increasing likeness to Christ. He builds up the Church and empowers its members for worship, service and mission.
7. THE CHURCH
The universal Church is the body of which Christ is the head and to which all who belong. It is made visible in local churches, which are congregations of believers who are committed to each other for the worship of God, the preaching of the Word, the administering of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; for the pastoral care and discipline, and for evangelism. The unity of the body of Christ is expressed within and between churches by mutual love, care and encouragement. True fellowship between churches exists only where they are faithful to the gospel.
8. BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper have been given to the Church by Christ as visible signs of the Gospel. Baptism is a symbol of union with Christ and entry into His Church but does not impart spiritual life. The Lord’s Supper is a commemoration of Christ’s sacriﬁce offered once for all and involves no change in the bread and the wine. All its blessings are received by faith.
9. THE FUTURE
The Lord Jesus Christ will return in glory. He will raise the dead and judge the world in righteousness. The wicked will be sent to eternal punishment and the righteous will be welcomed into a life of eternal joy in fellowship with God. God will make all things new and will be gloriﬁed forever.
Meet the Staff
Pastor Jonathan Clarke
Pastor Steve Dodds
(Amy Carmichael Centre Manager)
Senior Pastor Jonathan Clarke has ministered in Welcome Evangelical Church since 2006 and to say he has been busy during that period is something of an understatement.
During his tenure, Jonathan has overseen the renovation of the well-known Welcome Hall to the modern building that exists today – the Welcome Evangelical Church. In addition to this, Pastor Jonathan’s vision to erect and provide the Amy Carmichael Centre directly beside the church for the people of the greater Shankill area is also came to fruition in June 2016.
A local man, Pastor Jonathan was raised in the Shankill district and has only ever had one desire – to see men and women from this needy part of North Belfast experience a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
To this end, his weekly messages are well prepared and preached with a passion to people of all age groups. Having given his own heart to Jesus Christ in 1986 as a 16-year-old, Pastor Jonathan is a seasoned campaigner and loves nothing more than having the privilege of leading people to Christ.
He’s a hands-on pastor not afraid to visit the flock regularly or turn his hand to anything that needs to be done.
Jonathan's aim is to see the local church equipped for servant leadership and to care for the whole person – the original vision of the Welcome founder Amy Carmichael.
Pastor Jonathan still lives in the Shankill area at Ballygomartin with his wife Lorraine and son Joel.
Pastor Steve joined the Welcome in August 2022 as Associate pastor. Steve was brought up in a Christian home and gave His life to Jesus at 10 years old. Following the call of God Steve studied at the Belfast Bible College before taking up the position of Youth Pastor then Associate Pastor within Glengormley Baptist Church.
After faithfully serving the Lord in Glengormley for 6 years, Steve felt the call of God to come and serve at the Welcome. Steve is passionate about seeing everyone becoming disciples of Christ. Steve is involved in many different aspects on ministry within the church, including youth and school’s outreach and is often willing to do anything that is asked.
Pastor Steve is married to Faith and together they have a son called Reuben.
Welcome Evangelical Church Elders & Deacons
Welcome Evangelical Church Board of Trustees
Mr David Carson (Chairman)
Mrs Lorna Rankin (Secretary)
Mr Kyle Fitzsimmons
Mr Frank McAllister
Mr Stephen Smyth
Mr Robert McQuaide
Pastor Jonathan Clarke
Mrs Gloria McCauley
The purpose of the Board of Trustees is to ensure that the work and interests of the Welcome Evangelical Church, Belfast remain effective and relevant.
The Board is composed of a wide range of individuals representing different backgrounds, age groups, and diverse professional and business experiences.