Captain David Sanderson 

David felt a call to Church Army in his early 20s, in the mid-1950s. In those days before college and selection there was practical experience and during this time David worked on a caravan, in a man’s hostel and in a parish.

caravans 1David was commissioned in July 1957 into the Men’s Caravan Department. Each Department had 15 caravans with 2 men on them. David initially worked in the York Diocese and then spent 5 years in Blackburn. The caravan missions would run from September through to June, working in rural areas.

In June they would start the summer programmes, with a three week trek. David did 6 treks, including one setting off from Durham walking to Milthorpe, North Lancs, a distance of 150 miles, taking a train for the last bit of the journey to Blackpool. They then spent a month at the seaside doing beach missions and also spending time in the hops fields, helping to pick the hops, talking to and sharing with the pickers and running children’s activities, including slide shows on a projector run off a car battery.

David reflects that they saw many people come to faith in most of the places they worked in and visited during this ministry.

Blackpool beach missionWhilst the caravan method and short term missions were recognised as one of the most powerful forces for evangelism during the first half of the 20th Century, in the early 1960s Church Army decided that they were no longer effective. At around the same time hop picking became mechanised.

By this time David had married Nanette and they moved to Wakefield, where David took on a mission and training role. After completing a theology degree in Bristol, David and the family moved to work in the Norwich Diocese, where they stayed for 18 years, working for 13 years for Christ Church Lowestoft and also as a holiday chaplain on the East Coast. During this time David was also heavily involved in mission and training, training up and leading lay teams, in a mission across 30 parishes over a period of a year. David recalls that this time had a profound effect on the villages they worked with, with many coming to faith, people taking on roles in local churches and two people joining Church Army.

They then moved to Sheffield and David spent time working on the Decade of Evangelism project, which included training up lay evangelists, before officially retiring, although retirement finds David still very involved in his local church in Chesterfield.