Jim Hall was the first leader of The Gateway Church and planted the church with the help of his wife Jessica. Jim was once a farmer in Northumberland and was called by God into full time ministry work in the early 1970s. Before Jim and Jessica returned to Newcastle in 1999, Jim was in the leadership of a church in Peterborough. Whilst there he received a direction from the Lord to 'go back to the land of your forefathers'. Around the same time he received a letter from a person in Northumberland who said they believed God wanted him to return to the North East.
On a subsequent visit to the North East, Jim and Jessica visited Benwell where they both had a strong sense that God wanted them to begin a work in the West End area. The Newcastle West End at that time was known as the worst area for crime in the UK. A local minister told Jim that he could count 18 churches that had moved out of the area. They made the decision to move to the North East and bought a house in Elswick, in the West End of Newcastle.
As most of their contacts were in Northumberland, Jim and Jessica began holding regular bible studies in Kirkwhelpington, knowing that in due course God would open a door in the West End of Newcastle.
In February 2001 due to the foot and mouth outbreaks the meetings in Kirkwhelpington had to cease. The members of the group were encouraged to come to the West End where a new church plant was advertised through door to door visits. The West City Christian Fellowship started to meet at the Pavillion in Elswick Park on Sunday 22nd April 2001. Carol Oosthuis (now Hall) led the worship that first Sunday and the church was joined by three local families as a result of the house visiting.
Noel Todd, who had worked as a head teacher at St Paul's School in Elswick for 25 years, made the church aware of a disused building, once home to Benwell Evangelical Church. He told Jim and Jessica that he and his wife had walked the streets of Elswick for several years praying that God would raise up a Christian work in the area. The building, they discovered, was a burnt out desolate shell. There was no roof and the building was filled with all forms of debris.
The building had been purchased by a local business man who agreed to refurbish it and rent it out to the then West City Christian Fellowship. Around that time Jim was contacted by Newcastle Council who encouraged the church to “smarten up the building” because it was on a main gateway into Newcastle. After reflecting upon the position of the church building, Jim and Jessica renamed the church, 'The Gateway Church Newcastle".
The official opening of The Gateway Church Newcastle was on Saturday 23rd May 2009. At the opening attended by around 100 people, Ken Macauley (who had overseen the opening of the Benwell Evangelical Church in 1977) declared ‘The Gateway Church’ open. Robert Ward, leader of St Luke’s and Together in Christ -Tyneside, prayed God’s blessing on behalf of the pastors of Newcastle on the church. Ken Gott, overseer of House of Prayer Europe and Bethshan Church prayed for Jim and Jessica Hall and Wes Hall from IHOP Kansas City gave a message.
In 2012 and at the age of 70 Jim felt a call to move into a new season of ministry. He invited his son in law, Sam Douthwaite, to assume leadership of the church. At the time, Sam was part of the leadership of St Luke’s Church in Spital Tongues. He was also leading Street Pastors and House of Prayer Elswick, which met at The Gateway Church’s building.
Sam and his wife Liz moved from St Luke’s to join The Gateway Church in the summer of 2012 and Sam was appointed the leader of The Gateway Church at the end of 2012. A service was held where Sam was appointed, prayed for and recognised as the new leader by several senior local church leaders from Together in Christ - Tyneside.
Sam led the church bi-vocationally for two years before leaving his work with Street Pastors to lead the church full time from the start of 2015. Since Sam assumed leadership of the church, he has sought to build on the foundations laid by Jim and Jessica, defining the vision and values of the church and building a strong leadership team around him.
The church has grown to include people from various nations, and now meets on a Sunday at Excelsior Academy on Denton Road, which provides an excellent facility for all ages to gather for worship together. The former building has been renamed “The Sanctuary” and is now used for multiple meetings throughout the week, which include prayer meetings, bible studies and Tabitha’s Place.