A WIRRAL minister who took on a church at 17 is celebrating 70 years on the pulpit. 

Pastor Derek Green started as a minister in Mansfield when he was just 17-years-old.

In 1953, Derek was accepted into Elim Bible College, but just after seven months the principal of the college sent him to Mansfield to take over the church for two or three weeks until they could appoint a senior minster.

Wirral Globe: Derek Green cutting his celebratory cakeDerek Green cutting his celebratory cake (Image: Derek Green)

Derek, who said there had never been a crisis at the church, was thrown into the deep end and stayed for three months and never went back to college.

Derek has spent nearly 30 years of his life in Wirral. During his first stay, he saw the small congregation at the Elim Church in Serpentine Road in Wallasey build until they moved into the Oasis Church in Oxton Road, Wallasey which included a day nursery and other community activities.

During this period, he also launched the national Elim Church Magazine, “Direction” which was the first full colour Christian magazine in the Country and had a circulation of more than 20,000.

Over the years, Derek has pastored several churches where he has seen the congregations grow.

Wirral Globe: Derek outside Emmanuel Christian Fellowship churchDerek outside Emmanuel Christian Fellowship church (Image: Derek Green)

In Weymouth, he helped the congregation turn an old cinema into a church. When the church building was vandalised by fire, he worked with the congregation to build a brand new building with the first ever day nursery in a church.

In Chelmsford, he helped the congregation build a multi-purpose building to house the day nursery and large congregation which is still thriving to this day.

After 12 years in Chelmsford, Derek moved to be involved in a large Elim building project in Wirral and at the same time became the pastor of a very small church in Wallasey with only 16 people attending.

Wirral Globe: Derek GreenDerek Green (Image: Derek Green)

When Derek officially retired, he and his wife, Betty moved to North Wales where he became an associate minister at the Baptist Church in Rhyl for 10 years before returning to Wirral in 2014 to be nearer to their family.

Two years ago, The Emmanuel Christian Centre in Claughton Road found itself without a minister and Derek was asked to take over for a few months. His enthusiasm has helped the church to more than double with many community events attracting local people in.

After two years, and at 87 years of age, he is still there and has seen the numbers more than double and the congregation unanimously deciding to become a part of the Elim Network.

Derek said: “After more than 40 years in very full-time ministry I was anticipating a restful retirement, but after a few years of full-time caring for my late wife, God has seen fit to call me back into action.

“When he called me more than 70 years ago, he promised to be with me, and he has been. He did not say for how long, so I guess I have to accept (and enjoy the fact) that I remember I did not set an end date either.”

On Sunday, March 17, Emmanuel Christian Fellowship in Birkenhead marked Derek’s milestone with a celebratory lunch which saw hundreds of people attending the church to celebrate Derek.

Derek said: “The special celebrations marking my 70 years as a church minister were way above my expectations. There were people from as far as Birmingham North Wales Bradford and Glasgow and videos from people all over the country.

“I never imagined I would still be leading a church at 87.  I am finding it very challenging with all the new technology and modern problems, but also very exciting.

“We are living in very challenging days and people are asking so many questions. I suppose my long experience enables me to help people find answers.”