An Anglican couple, an American Presbyterian couple, a Baptist Union couple and a Grace Baptist couple. (It sounds like the opening line of some embarrassing joke. Should I set an en competition to see who can write the most amusing anecdote with that entrée?). But we were at a wedding reception and for some reason the bride and groom had decided to seat all the clergy around one table – perhaps so that the other guests could enjoy themselves!
The conversation at the table was stimulating, gracious and generally encouraging. We were all gospel people. But into the table talk – I won’t say from which quarter – came the idea of a gospel without boundaries. ‘If we have Christ at the centre and point people to him we need no fences. People are so put off by “fundamentalism”. I don’t want to get tied up on creation, or abortion, or the gay issue, etc. They need to hear about my Saviour, the Lord Jesus!’ Sounds convincing? Here we have the idea, in mathematical terms, of truth as an open set. There were all kinds of comments flying around to which I listened. Finally, everyone turned to me and asked me what I thought.
Greenwich, London SE10, is where East meets West at the world-famous meridian.
Every day couples from around the globe make their way to the observatory in Royal Greenwich Park to be photographed holding hands across the iconic line.
Partnership church plant
This September, Greenwich is going to be the meeting place of a different kind of partnership: a new church plant called Grace Church Greenwich, which represents the coming together of two other London churches.
St Peter’s Barge, a floating church started in 2003 to reach out to workers and locals around Canary Wharf, is partnering with St Helen’s Bishopsgate to form this new fellowship. Since its beginning, the church on the Barge has had a number of people from around Greenwich who travel across the river to church, and so it has been a natural area to consider planting into, but the numbers have not been sufficient to start anything. In partnership with St Helen’s, however, the two churches are able to combine forces and give it a go. As the Barge’s senior minister, Marcus Nodder comments: ‘How do you plant churches if you are a small church like the Barge? You take to heart the biblical maxim that ‘two are better than one’ (Ecclesiastes 4.9) and team up with another church to pool your resources!’
One of the two new ministers, Andrew Latimer, explains how the idea came about: ‘We at the Barge have had a heart for Greenwich and have been meeting and praying in homes around the area for a while, and so it was a wonderful answer to prayer when the possibility of a partnership came up. Jesus sent his followers off in pairs, so I’ve been convinced for a while about the need for a partner in crime, and was therefore thrilled when the prospect arose of joining with Andrew Sach from St Helen’s to make this vision a reality. Not only are we friends, but he brings lots of gifts and experience which will be a real help.’
William Taylor, rector of St Helen’s, is convinced that this is a model which should be… (click here to read more)
Possibly, like you, I left my single life in my early twenties when I married a pastor and became busy with ministry and having a family. I did not think about nor understand the singleness issue for people in our congregation, as it was never raised for my attention.
In God’s sovereign providence, when my life took a dramatic turn to receive the gift of a hard grace: an unwilling divorce and becoming a single parent of five children under nine years old, then the singleness issue started to become real to me. My circumstances changed from being in the centre of church life, being admired, accepted, and understood, to being scorned, rejected and marginalised, by those very same people. I felt like a divorced single parent ‘leper’, which was truly shocking and grievous to me. In the very time of my need, the ‘fat sheep’ in the church pushed out the sheep who served them that had become ‘weak’ (Ezekiel 34). Even more shockingly, I found this to be true in many churches that I tried to become part of across continents.
God wastes nothing of our experiences and suffering, it is always multi-layered, and so over time… (to read more click here)
Further practical advice can be found at http://www.singlechristians.co.uk/info/church_leader
Jacqui Wright is a single Christian, and single parent of five kids for the past 16 years. She was married to a pastor which ended in an unwilling divorce. She is an independent Speech and Language therapist with practices in Bedford and on Harley Street, London. She is the chair of Bedford Christian Singles friendship and fellowship group.
Sometimes someone has a good idea.
They find some friends to help put it into practice and then thinks that is the end of the matter. Sometimes God has other ideas.
When Jennie Dow, a young teacher in Bristol, came up with the idea of the Bristol Women’s Conference she had no clue where it would lead. In fact, when I contacted her recently in preparation for this article, I don’t think she was aware how far her vision had spread.
Birth of a conference
More than ten years have passed since Jennie suggested to a few friends, including her pastor’s wife, Kath Paterson, that it might be helpful to gather women together from different churches in Bristol to hear Sharon James explain the biblical vision of godly womanhood. Throw in a seminar or two, a good lunch, some talented musicians and a lot of hard work, and the Bristol Women’s Conference was born.
I was at that first conference at Kensington Baptist Church where about 100 women gathered together. I remember being moved to tears as I saw women of all ages, some who I had known as students, others who had mentored me in the past, all in the same room, praising God and hungry to hear his Word taught.
Word spread and the second Bristol Women’s Conference took place in 2005. This time people came from as far afield as Exeter, Cardiff and the wilds of Wiltshire. When I moved down to Cornwall, I longed to take the women in our church to a similar event, but a three hour journey seemed too far for one day.
Then I bumped into Beccy Davies, a woman of extraordinary faith and enthusiasm who thought… (click here to read more)
Who do you not see when you are in church?
Which people are there but invisible to you? And to which people is your attention naturally drawn? Young families? Students? The Lord Jesus often viewed things in a rather different way from us, and noticed the people we overlook. Contemplating worshippers at the temple he drew his disciples’ attention to a poor old widow (Luke 21.1-4).
Lonely in church
Here’s a story of an old widow in our congregation who we overlooked. We didn’t overlook her completely. Some of our godly women spend much time looking after her and having her around for Sunday lunches. But she tended to get neglected in the turmoil of the after service coffee time, with no one talking with her. We quite rightly received a letter of rebuke from her carer. ‘Lonely in church! It’s not good enough!’ We had to take that on the chin and pull our socks up. We weren’t seeing her the way Jesus would have done. But, back to the story.
The card writer
Olive – that’s her name – loves to write greetings cards to all kinds of people. Sometimes she includes verses of Scripture, sometimes poems, sometimes words of encouragement, like ‘Dear Pastor, I really enjoyed your choice of hymns on Sunday morning’. That’s great. But God used her card writing in a way which went far beyond our limited horizons.…(to read more click here)
An independent church in Chippenham, Wiltshire, celebrated the launch of its new building with a community open day on its ten year anniversary weekend.
Emmanuel Church Chippenham (ECC), which has met in a local school since its formation, bought a former Exclusive Brethren building last October. After several months of extensive renovation work, which included levelling the floor, installing windows and repairing the roof, the building was officially opened on Saturday 2 May.
ECC invited neighbours and friends to a community day featuring a bouncy castle, face painting, crafts, cakes, games and other fun activities.
From hirers to owners
Pastor Spencer Shaw said: ‘For us as a church, having our own building after ten years in a school is an attempt to take the next steps to reach people more effectively with the gospel. Hiring premises to do things is always frustrating and somewhat limiting, and we see our new building as a place that our church can operate from as a spiritual lifeboat station – that is the key phrase we’ve used all along!
‘By starting with a community open day, we are starting as we mean to go on – looking outwards first and engaging with the community around us through fun and friendliness; at the same time being very clear that we are all about the gospel.’
Displays of church members’ testimonies, different areas of church life and varied Christian literature… (click here to read more)
The dominant news story as May turned into June was that officials of the governing body for world football were facing investigations of bribery and vote fixing. Both the US FBI and the Swiss authorities are looking into the matter.
This adds to the sorry list of recent scandals that say so much about our society. We have had greedy bankers wrecking Western economies, MPs fiddling their expenses, journalists hacking phones, policemen involved in racism and cover-ups, household name broadcasters convicted of historic sexual abuse and parts of the NHS mistreating the elderly. The church is not exempt. The Methodists recently ‘fessed up’ to the mistreatment of minors among them. And yet we are too ‘grown up’ and self-confident as a society to see any need for God or his grace.
Were votes bought in the contests to hold the 2018 and 2022 world cup finals? FIFA, like most Western institutions, is meant to be a democratic organisation. But, good though it is, democracy can be…(to read more click here)