Page 1

Congregational

Concern

Magazine of the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches

Issue No. 195

Spring 2010


gos

pe l t r ut

h

pe l i nde p

en

den

ce • go s

el

gos

f e l l ows h i p •

e f cc

p

Concern is the magazine for and about the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches

Editor: Rev. PETER BEALE Assistant Editors: Rev. CYRIL ASTON Rev. MICHAEL PLANT Rev. PETER ROBINSON Contents: Round about 1 Mike Plant 2 Further afield: Namibia 5 A spiritual tonic 8 Congregational Worthies: Robert Haldane 11 Potential Pioneers 14 Manipur centenary 16 Studies Conference 17 Book shelf 18 Stan Guest 20

Cover illustration: Preaching workshop at Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary (Thorsten Prill)

Editor’s comment

“O

ne lot of sinners out; another lot of sinners in!” Such was the perhaps somewhat cynical comment displayed on a church’s “wayside pulpit” notice-board a few years ago following a General Election. They had a point, of course: despite the efforts of the campaign leaders in the political parties to persuade the electorate that their policies and candidates were beyond reproach, we live in a fallen world in which even the greatest of leaders are but men, and therefore sinners. We live in a parliamentary democracy, rather than on the one hand under an absolute monarchy or dictatorship, or on the other hand a state of anarchy, and for that we should be grateful. Another General Election is about to take place, and as we look at the stated policies of the main parties, whatever our views may be on the strengths and weaknesses on matters such as the economy, defence, education, health, transport, foreign relations and so on, we find that without exception they espouse a secularist, anti-faith, and in particular anti-Christian approach to many issues. In the light of this we may wonder whether it is worth voting. Since we are to “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution” (1 Peter 2:13 ESV) and exercising our vote is part of our civic duty, we should certainly do so, first doing our best to find out the stance of the particular candidates for our own constituency. As we go to press the Christian Institute (www.christian.org) is about to produce its “Election 2010 Briefing Paper”, and this will undoubtedly be helpful. And having voted, whatever the outcome of the election, we are to pray for our leaders, “that we may lead peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim. 2:2).

Peter Beale


New pastorates

The church premises at Thorpe Edge in Bradford were so packed at the induction service for Keith Mitton on 6th March that there was standing room only for some. Mr Mitton was pastor of Pollard Park Evangelical Church near the city centre for many years. Continued prayer is asked for him in his new leadership role, along with the two previous pastors, Douglas Legge and Bernard Umpleby, who continue to serve as elders. On 27th March the induction took place at Bulford in Wiltshire of Barnaby Alsop. The service was led by Pastor Nigel Graham from Warboys, the induction and ordination by Mike Plant (EFCC G e n e r a l Secretary), and Paul Oliver (Pastor of Bradford-onAvon Baptist Nigel Graham with new pastor Barnaby Alsop and his wife, Verity Church) preached powerfully from 2 Cor. 1:3–7. Two former pastors also took part in the service—David Godfrey (1963–73) under whose ministry the church had declined to join the newly-formed Congregational Church of England & Wales and became part of EFCC, and Peter Beale (1980–2003).

With the Lord

On Tuesday 6th April, the day after her 77th birthday, Mrs Brenda Forsyth of Wiveliscombe went to her reward. Brenda, who had been suffering bravely with cancer for some time, was the widow of Rev. Ban Forsyth, and a great stalwart in the work at Wiveliscombe. She will be greatly missed, and our warm sympathy goes to her family and to the church fellowship.

Bicentenary

The church at Lee Mill in Devon (pastor Rev. Cyril Short), which recently came into EFCC, celebrates the 200th anniversary of its foundation in April.

Congregational Concern Spring 2010

1


From the Gen. Sec. Dear Friends,

Giving men the tools for the job An article with a history

Recently, in “Planting & Watering”, I began a new feature. Each issue will (DV) contain a book recommendations section from a minister which lists the books which he found most useful in preaching on a Bible book. One matter I asked my contributors to bear in mind was the question of economy. I was concerned for those starting out in the ministry who need to build up a library as efficiently as possible. I was concerned that books can be very expensive and value for money is important. Finally, that some ministers may be on very restricted incomes and not all churches have realized the value of giving a book allowance. I then received an email from a minister saying that if ministers were not receiving a book allowance that is something I ought to be addressing. As no-one else can as readily do this I am taking up the challenge.

Considering the bigger picture

Some time ago the EFCC decided to give guidance each year regarding appropriate salaries for ministers. There are many factors that can be considered but for simplicity we decided to base our recommendation on one factor only, and that was to recommend an income in line with the median income for the United Kingdom. Median income means 50% earn more and 50% earn less and we adopted this as a practical way of applying Galatians 1:6: “One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.” We could have considered other factors such as experience, size of church and the area in which the church is located but for simplicity we left those issues as a matter for churches to consider. I cannot imagine anybody would disagree with the advice, but we all know the practicalities for some churches are that they cannot raise those funds, and so their ministers will be financially in restricted circumstances. That will mean that it cannot be left to them to supply their

2

Congregational Concern Spring 2010


own book buying needs when every penny spent is withheld from something else which is needed.

Why ministers need books

In 1 Timothy 4:15 Paul commands Timothy: “Practise these things [public reading of Scripture, exhortation and teaching], devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress.” Our use of our gifts—and no-one can exhort, preach and teach without the relevant gifts—is to be something which we work at and in which others can see our progress. Paul even towards the end of his ministry writes in 2 Timothy 4:13 for Timothy to send him “the books, and above all the parchments.” Even as an inspired Apostle he is a hard-working student. While being a fluent speaker can attract people it is teaching that will build people up in the faith. Such teaching takes hard work and study. When I was preparing for the ministry Dr Lloyd-Jones published his Preaching and Preachers and in it states that ministers need to engage in eight different kinds of reading. 1. They need to read through the Bible at least once a year. 2. They need to study the Bible in detail, both reading commentaries on particular books but also books on prophecy or typology which show how the Bible holds together as one book. 3. They need to read devotionally, so they will read books and sermons which directly aim to touch the heart. 4. They need to expand their minds to see God’s truth so they will need to read Theology. 5. They need to read Church History and Biography to see how God’s truth has been worked out in life situations. 6. They need to read books defending the faith from the attacks of the modern world (for example in regard to creation and psychology). 7. They need to read books on pastoral matters such as preaching, evangelism and counselling. 8. They need to read books which reflect on topical issues and will influence the way people think and so regard the gospel. If that sounds a lot they need to do it is because it is a lot and yes, they do need to do it! If a minister currently thinks he knows enough then that is a sign he knows very little.

Why a book allowance?

Because ministers need books as tools for the job God has called them to do. If like me you have a very limited set of tools for DIY you dread doing jobs because you know you end up doing them with not-quitesuitable tools and do them less well than you could do. The job takes longer and is less well done as a result. Of course the Bible is the only inspired book from which ministers are to draw spiritual food for God’s

Congregational Concern Spring 2010

3


people each week. Ministers however need the stimulus of study to get to grip with what God’s word means and then to undertake the equally important task of moving from the meaning of the text to how it is to be applied to encourage, challenge, correct and teach the congregation. Let me give one example which relates to a sermon I preached on a recent Sunday morning on Paul’s thorn in the flesh from 2 Corinthians 12:1–10. Books used: 3 Bibles, Greek NT and 2 lexicons, 3 commentaries. On Amazon the total cost would have been £127! Bearing in mind that ministers will probably preach on several Bible books each year and that some study tools are used each time, a book allowance of £200 would be a fairly minimal allowance. Most ministers could use more and they and their hearers would benefit.

Is there a silver lining to this cloud?

Yes—because books used for sermon preparation may be bought using an untaxed book allowance. It is a very tax-efficient way of providing for a minister. So do please consider this seriously and in doing so encourage your minister and even benefit yourself! Yours in the Lord,

Mike Plant

Westminster 2010: Declaration of Christian Conscience On Easter Day a large number of Christian leaders from a broad spectrum launched a “Conscience Manifesto” ahead of the General Election with what they describe as a “call to arms for the country’s Christians”. They state: WE BELIEVE that protecting human life, protecting marriage, and protecting freedom of conscience are foundational for creating and maintaining strong families, caring communities and a just society. WE INVITE Christians of all denominations who subscribe to the historic Christian faith to sign the Westminster 2010 Declaration of Christian Conscience. (See www.westminster2010.org.uk.) WE CALL upon all parliamentary candidates to pledge that they will 'respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience.

4

Congregational Concern Spring 2010


Further afield‌ Namibia The Gospel of Prosperity and Liberation or the True Gospel of Christ? Challenges and Opportunities for the Church in Namibia by Thorsten Prill

T

he first missionaries arrived in Namibia, formerly known as South West Africa, at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1806 two brothers, Christian and Abraham Albrecht of the London Missionary Society founded a mission station in the south of the country.* Many more missionaries, mostly Lutherans from Germany and Finland but also Methodists from England and South Africa, followed in subsequent years. Their efforts and those of indigenous evangelists and pastors bore much fruit. A hundred years after the arrival of the Albrecht brothers the church was still growing. Today, between 80 and 90 per cent of Namibia’s multicultural population of 2 million is affiliated to a church. The Church is a visible and important part of Namibian society. As such it faces many challenges: the biggest gap between rich and poor in the world, a HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 15.3%, one of the highest suicide rates in Africa and alcoholism which affects almost every class and ethnic group.

Prosperity gospel

However, the Church is also confronted with challenges of another nature. Prosperity gospel preaching and teaching is wide spread, especially in Pentecostal circles. Sometimes the preaching of such a wrong gospel happens very openly, at other times the approach is more subtle. The message, however, is always the same: the more money you give to the church the more God will bless you materially and heal you from any diseases. Not surprisingly, there are people who leave these

Congregational Concern Spring 2010

5


churches after a while feeling totally disillusioned. Some of them return to their m a i n s t r e a m denominations, others join one of the so called African Initiated Churches. While there are many believers in both church groupings there is no guarantee that they will hear the true Gospel of Jesus Lutheran church in Rehoboth, Namibia Christ. In some African Initiated Churches a blend of Christianity and traditional pagan beliefs can be found while in traditional churches liberation theology is still dominant in pulpits. Namibian liberation theologians argue that the Gospel is to be understood in socio-political terms. They define it as the good news that God wants to liberate people from political oppression and social injustice. “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures�, as the apostle Paul writes in 1 Cor. 15:3–4, is at best of secondary importance to them. These are the conditions in which the small number of evangelical churches and para-church organisations, such as Scripture Union, Campus Crusade and the Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary (NETS), minister. Their specific challenge is the fact that many of their supporters and members come from the poorer groups in society. As a result, they often cannot pay their pastors, staff workers, and lecturers adequate salaries or fund the training of full-time workers.

Strategic importance

However, for the future of gospel ministry in Namibia the role of NETS is of strategic importance. NETS was founded 20 years ago as the only evangelical theological college in the country. Today there are 30 fulltime residential students, mostly from Namibia but also from other parts of southern Africa. The same number of part-time students attend the weekly evening classes at the Windhoek campus. In addition, there are about 650 students enrolled in the Distance Education programmes. These students live all over the country. Among those are 100 inmates of Namibian prisons who have come to faith in Christ during their time

6

Congregational Concern Spring 2010


in prison and who use the NETS programmes to get a better foundation of the Christian faith. There is clearly a strong desire among Christians in Namibia to get to know God better and to serve him faithfully. The mission of NETS is “to equip Christians with knowledge and skills After Sunday service at Evangelical Bible Church, to live godly lives and Katatura, Windhoek serve the Church and the wider community”. NETS tries hard to put this mission into practice. This happens through its study programmes which provide students not only with a good Bible knowledge but also with practical ministry skills such as expository preaching, pastoral care, evangelism and leadership skills. In addition, NETS organises retreats for pastors and Word Alive conferences for all those involved in teaching the Bible, i.e. preachers, house group leaders, youth workers and Sunday school teachers. The Lord has blessed the work of NETS in many ways: the student numbers have increased in recent years and while the college still struggles financially there has been generous financial support from abroad for student scholarships, the training of Namibian lecturers, and a new library and resource centre for pastors. However, the challenge remains: to convince not only foreign donors but also Namibian churches and individuals to invest in the training of future church leaders who are driven by the same mission as the first European and Namibian missionaries, i.e. to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of salvation, to all the people of Namibia and beyond. * Buys, GL, Nambala, SVV, 2003. History of the church in Namibia. Windhoek: Gamsberg Macmiillan, 9–10.

Thorsten Prill lectures in systematic theology and missiology at Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary (NETS), Windhoek. He is a personal member of EFCC. If you would like to receive further information about the work of NETS you can contact Thorsten at prill.nets@gmail.com

Congregational Concern Spring 2010

7


A spiritual tonic by Bill Dyer A review of Paul Cook’s Fire from heaven—times of extraordinary revival (Evangelical Press, 143pp, £8.99)

H

ere is a spiritual tonic to stir the blood and fire the passion of every believer in these times of spiritual drought and decline. Paul Cook uncovers the largely forgotten but exceptional revivals which took place in our country during the years 1791 to 1840. It seems that most modern evangelicals have overlooked this period, focussing rather on the First Evangelical Awakening which can be dated from the beginning of the extraordinary ministry of George Whitefield in 1737 until the death of John Wesley in 1791. These were years when great pioneer preachers opened up a way for the gospel, while labouring against fierce opposition. They gathered believers and formed them into little groups for fellowship and prayer. But the period of phenomenal ingathering when chapels were built and a gospel witness established in almost every town and village followed in the years 1791–1840. When John Wesley died in 1791 the Wesleyan Methodists in Britain numbered just 72,000, whereas by 1851 membership had grow to 360,000. In addition, by 1852, the Primitive Methodist membership was 110,000 with an additional 230,000 adherents. The Baptists and Congregationalists were little affected by the Evangelical Awakening of the eighteenth century but were extensively revived in the early nineteenth century; the Congregationalists alone grew to between a half and three quarters of a million.

Powerful revivals

Paul Cook concludes, “Overall, between 1791–1840, one and a half million people were gathered into Nonconformist chapels in England and Wales: one out of every ten of the population at that time.” The explanation for this extraordinary growth lies in the powerful revivals described in this book. It is spiritually enriching to read of the wonderful works of God. At Hull people ran through the streets to mid-

8

Congregational Concern Spring 2010


week meetings to get a seat in buildings that held 1000. At Yeadon God’s presence was so manifest and conviction of sin so widespread that people were weeping in the streets over their sins, and business was suspended for several days in some of the workplaces. There were so many penitents that prayer meetings in the chapel were continuous from morning to night, and 600 converted. The superintendent minister wrote, “we are expecting to have the whole town converted when we get our new chapel opened”. In Nottingham and in Cornwall many Christians felt so much of the overwhelming power of grace that they were unable to walk without assistance at the end of meetings.

Searching challenges

While examining these revivals Paul Cook places a number of searching challenges before the contemporary church. Spiritual Reality—“They knew a quality of spiritual life to which most of us are strangers … a depth of spiritual experience, a joy in God, an ardent love for Christ, a thirst for holiness, a compassion for the lost and an uninhibited zeal for God.” Much contemporary Christianity is formal and cerebral and lacking experiential reality. There has been a tendency to confine God to the pages of the Bible, and make him appear remote so that we no longer deal directly with God himself as a person, whereas, for example, the Cornish Wesleyans “expected God to visit them and deal personally and directly with their souls. … They held the view that spiritual soundness within a Gospel church is not just dependent upon a faithful ministry of the Word, but also requires direct operations of the Spirit of God upon the souls of the people.” Orthodox belief without the Spirit’s power can be powerless and unattractive — “our Reformed theology is too much in our heads and too little in our hearts … Our present weakness has more to do with our lack of spirituality than our lack of ability.” Evangelism is only effective when there is a movement of God’s Spirit upon the souls of men — Man was seen as totally dependent upon God for salvation. These men regarded salvation not primarily as the sinner coming to God in response to the Gospel, but as God coming and regenerating the sinner through the Gospel and by the power of the Holy Spirit, and then declaring peace to his heart. Men and women were urged to call upon God for mercy through Jesus Christ — and that involved both repentance and faith. The mere act of calling was not regarded as salvation — God had to act, God had to come. Assent to evangelical truth and expressing a desire to be committed to Christ is all that is usually expected today, but all this is possible quite apart from any work of God in the soul. It was because they knew that both widespread revival and every individual conversion depended upon God’s sovereign activity that they prayed so much. A conversion in normal times is just

Congregational Concern Spring 2010

9


as supernatural and wonderful as a conversion in revival times. “The Wesleyan Methodists 1791–1840 expressed complete dependence upon God and resorted to God whenever they sensed a decline in their churches.” “In our desperate situation today we are not as desperate as we ought to be. We do not cast ourselves upon God like our forefathers … They depended upon God more than we do, they looked to him more often, they prayed more diligently. If we continue to think that what we are doing is all that really matters we ought not to be surprised if God leaves us to ourselves. We must come to the end of ourselves and begin, with God’s help, to call upon him as these Christians did with an urgency and an insistence which will not be denied. No activity is more calculated to lead to the conversion of sinners, to restore power and effectiveness to the church and lead to the prosperity of gospel preaching, than the holy work of importunate prayer.”

Concert of prayer

1784 saw the Congregationalists and both the Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists in Wales joining in a great “Concert or Union of Prayer”. “All over the land a cry to God ascended to heaven for an outpouring of the Spirit upon the churches. William Carey’s missionary vision arose from this, and the revivals which broke out in 1791 and continued until the 1840s all over the British Isles were surely God’s answer to the fervent prayers of his people.” Our EFCC Constitution states that one of the Objects of the Fellowship is “To encourage prayer for the reviving power of the Holy Spirit in the Church.” Our need for that reviving power is very great, and reading Fire from Heaven should inspire us to call upon God with urgency and expectancy. I wholeheartedly commend it.

“What were the men of the Holy Club in Oxford seeing: the Wesleys, Whitefield, Benjamin Ingham and others? What were they praying for? It was not revival. As we have noted, they were thirsting after God and desiring holiness of life. There is something much more important than seeking revival. It is seeking the God of revivals. We need to know God more fully! Let us thirst after him! Let us seek a manifest presence of Jesus Christ! Let us seek holiness of life! Let us hunger and thirst after righteousness! Such holy pursuits are not to the exclusion of a desire and prayer for revival, but they are of even greater importance. And God will not disappoint those who long for him.” Paul Cook, Fire from heaven

10

Congregational Concern Spring 2010


Congregational Worthies (12): Robert Haldane (1764–1842) by Arthur Fraser

L

ife is full of surprises, it is often said. That is certainly true of the life story of Robert Haldane. Very few, one imagines, would have been able to claim that the path to their conversion to Christ began with the French Revolution. Yet Robert Haldane made precisely that claim. The momentous event “aroused [him] from the sleep of spiritual death”, according to his nephew-biographer. How? Not, perhaps, as we might have expected. For to begin with, he viewed the political convulsion on the continent favourably, believing that it opened the door to the betterment of mankind. His vision for social justice, which took little account of man’s native depravity, was deeply stirred by the upheavals across the Channel. But thanks to the influence of discerning evangelical ministers in the area, his ardent political convictions were skilfully re-directed towards higher goals and this process ultimately led to his salvation. Describing the transition, he pithily remarked that, “missing the shadow, I caught the substance.” However, it was to take quite some time before he lived down his perceived pro-revolutionary stance, and even his later missionary endeavours at home and abroad were construed as politically subversive in some quarters.

Apocrypha removed

Robert Haldane, a wealthy Scottish landowner, was destined to make a profound impact on the Christian world in more ways than one. He himself regarded the greatest achievement of his life as having the Apocrypha removed from Bibles circulated in the Continent. This success came in the late 1820s only after a long and bitter dispute with the British and Foreign Bible Society which, at the time, was receiving many demands for Apocrypha-containing Bibles, even from Lutheran and Reformed Protestant churches! Surprisingly, Haldane’s many opponents in the controversy included several members of the “Clapham Sect” such as Charles Simeon who employed the “becoming all things to all men” argument. An important by-product of Haldane’s campaign on the Apocrypha was his publication of a major work on the plenary inspiration of Scripture which restored the evangelical faith of a significant number of ministers.

Congregational Concern Spring 2010

11


Missionary in Geneva

Other analysts of Haldane’s life might judge, with some justification, that his finest achievements stemmed from his missionary work in Geneva in 1816–17. Burdened by the low spiritual state of Europe generally, his ambition to visit that famous city was finally realised after the Napoleonic wars had ended. Sadly, Calvin would not have recognized the Geneva of that time. The last embers of the Reformation had all but died. The theological academies and churches were thoroughly permeated by pernicious heresies. Ignorance of the Bible was lamentable in professors, pastors and students alike. But, through his masterly exposition of Paul’s letter to the Romans (subsequently transcribed into his classic commentary) to a small group of interested students, Haldane was instrumental in God’s hands in fanning the flame of a fresh revival in Europe.

Notable men

Notable men in this 19th-century second Reformation, men like Frederic Monod, César Malan and Merle D’Aubigné all owed their conversion to the opening up of the whole counsel of God by this dedicated missionary. Aware no doubt of the nature of his audience, D’Aubigné included this tribute in a speech he gave in Edinburgh in 1845, some 3 years after Haldane’s death: “… if Geneva gave something to Scotland at the time of the Reformation, … Geneva has received something from Scotland in return, in the blessed exertions of Robert Haldane.”

Inspired by Carey

A zealous missionary spirit had characterized the life of Robert Haldane ever since his conversion in 1794. Inspired by Carey’s work in India, he planned a mission to Bengal, taking with him several hand-picked men. Amongst these was Dr Bogue of Gosport to whom he owed much for his conversion after his brief naval career. The whole venture was to be financed by the sale of his large estate at Gleneagles. However, the aim was ultimately thwarted by the opposition of the India Company. Haldane then turned to mission work in Scotland. Along with his younger brother James, he established the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel at Home (SPGH). Other developments quickly followed. Bibles and religious tracts were printed for public distribution, Bible seminaries were established for the training of men for itinerant preaching, and places of worship, modelled on Whitefield’s tabernacles, were built in several major cities. All these projects were financed solely by Haldane from the proceeds of his estate.

12

Congregational Concern Spring 2010


Congregationalism in Scotland

Meanwhile, some 12 men, including the Haldane brothers, “resolved to form themselves into a Congregational Church” in 1799. What they termed “impure communion” in the Established church was the key factor in this far-reaching move. Robert subsequently recorded that this had never been the original intention, but came to “rejoice in the Institution.” The teaching at his seminaries contributed to the rapid growth of Congregationalism in Scotland at this time. Students came from various Presbyterian backgrounds, but according to one under Dr Ewing’s tuition at Glasgow, “they found [themselves] decided and intelligent Congregationalists” by the end of the course. The Congregational cause continued to flourish until around 1808 when Robert, followed by his brother, sought to promote forms of worship in the churches which they regarded as most in line with apostolic practice. This included adopting a Baptistic position, a move which precipitated a huge upheaval in the new churches, resulting in a permanent rupture between them and the Haldanes. Congregational churches then pursued an independent line, becoming self-supporting financially and continuing to advance the gospel in Scotland through itinerant evangelism. Despite this sad division, nothing can take away from the pivotal role played by Robert Haldane in promoting the cause of Congregationalism in Scotland. But it does come rather as a shock that a well-motivated decision on his part should have such unhappy fallout. Life is indeed full of surprises. Dr Arthur Fraser was pastor of Latimer Memorial Congregational Church, Beverley, and lives in active retirement in Drumnadrochit, near to Loch Ness.

“In these days of boasted liberality, it may appear captious to oppose with zeal the errors of men who have acquired a name in the Christian world. The mantle of charity, it will be said, ought to be thrown over mistakes that have resulted from a free and impartial investigation of truth, and if not wholly overlooked, they should be noticed with a slight expression of disapprobation. Such, however, was not the conduct of the Apostle Paul…. Let not Christians be more courteous in expressing their views of the guilt and danger of corrupting the Gospel, than faithful and compassionate to the people of Christ who may be injured by false doctrine. It is highly sinful to bandy compliments at the expense of truth.” Robert Haldane, preface to Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

Congregational Concern Spring 2010

13


15th Jan. 2011—Stony Stratford by Robert Lightowler

W

hat our nation needs are leaders; what are churches need are leaders. No one doubts this, but what we also urgently need in this country are pioneer evangelists. There are a number of young men I know who are quality saints and, I believe, the Lord is setting aside for the ministry (as pioneer evangelists, pastors, missionaries or nation shapers). To know young brothers who are on fire for the Lord and have a passion for souls is a privilege. To facilitate opportunities for them, and others like them, to take steps into strategic, active ministry is my desire. We are planning to host a weekend here to provide exposure to seasoned servants of Christ that will help them to evaluate their own area of service. This will be done through short teaching sessions opening up into Q & A times, forums and feedback, and informal fellowship over food(!) It will hopefully also build links that will provide networks of support when they later face the challenges of front line service. Roger Carswell and Peter Milsom (UFM) are booked and it is hoped to have other key men of God join us who will be encouragers and mentors. Bill Dyer (the EFCC trainer) is involved and David Woodard an FIEC Church restorer. This is not a training programme nor is it intended to replicate or interfere with what a local church is doing. It simply gives an opportunity for those with potential to be identified, encouraged and form links with others of a like mind and those who are ahead of them. We also want to listen to these under thirties so that we understand their perspective and so discern if there is a need for something else in the future.

14

Congregational Concern Spring 2010


At this stage could I ask if you would be prepared to let people know about this event? I didn’t think it appropriate to advertise this Forum and so open it up to anyone who wants to come along. Rather, to have young men recommended by their minister or someone who knows that they have potential and a degree of maturity. We have around 10 at present but could cater for around 25. Robert Lightowler (robertlightowler@yahoo.co.uk), Stony Stratford Evangelical Free Church, Milton Keynes MK11 1EA

Salvation by Brian Dupont

A

ll that Jesus accomplished on the Cross brings us SALVATION. This is the glorious Bible word which covers and includes so many different aspects of Jesus’ work on the cross. To these are added the believer’s response and experience. Included are Conversion, Being “Born Again”, Justification, Adoption, and Sanctification. Salvation is the great central theme of the New Testament and of the Christian Good News. Only the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus Christ can make such blessings available to sinful but repentant people such as ourselves (Eph. 2:13). This life, here and now, is greatly affected by the experience of receiving salvation. This is by a living faith — a trust — in Christ’s finished work for us on the cross. But the fulness of our salvation awaits the Christian in heaven. No more sin, pain, tears, death will spoil our worship or our joy. Perfect forgiveness! (Rev. 21:3–5). Romans 8:20–22 reveals that the whole fallen created universe eagerly awaits the final act of GOD’s full salvation—the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and great glory. Then all will be subject to his perfect reign for all eternity. Brian Dupont is a former pastor, and current member of Staines Congregational Church. This article first appeared in the church’s newsletter, and is reproduced by kind permission.

Stapleton Road Memorial

A memorial window has been placed in the refurbished foyer of Stapleton Road Congregational Church in Bristol to commemorate the life of the late Pastor David Thomas, who served there from 1977 until his death in 2008. The window includes a daffodil to recognize Mr Thomas’s Welsh origins.

Congregational Concern Spring 2010

15


Manipur centenary by Lamboi Haokip

T

he centenary celebration of the Evangelical Churches Association of Manipur in North India took place on February 14th and 15th at Peace Ground, Churachandpur, Manipur. Between 25 and 30 thousand people attended, with about six states being represented including Bhutan and Nepal. EFCC UK was represented by Rev. David Saunders. The Bethesda Foundation is a charity project to support tribal children on India-Burma border. Currently, we David Saunders (in front of pillar) present at meetings have been enabled to support about 30 children for their schools, and proved some temporary support to four widows. Through the generous support of some friends and donors including Blythswood Trust, we were able to buy a rice field and constructed a house, size 80ft x 40ft, for orphan children. Right now we are digging a tube-well for drinking water for the Children’s Home, which will hopefully be completed by 20th March. We are now left with one major need in order to be able to start the Children’s Home, that is Light or a Solar Template. Anyone interested to help us in this crucial need may please contact me (email lamboi@yahoo.com).

16

Congregational Concern Spring 2010


Studies Conference Report

D

id you know that St Patrick was a Congregationalist? Well, that was the suggestion made by Dr George Speers of Ballynahinch in his stimulating paper on The History of Congregationalism in Ireland, delivered at this year’s Studies Conference which was held at Orange Street Chapel in central London. “According to one tradition”, declared Dr Speers, “Patrick founded three hundred and sixty five churches and ordained a similar number of bishops, while another tradition says that he formed seven hundred churches and ordained seven hundred bishops, that is, in either case, a bishop or pastor to each congregation.” Dr Speers led us ably through the “ups and downs” of Irish Congregationalism, from its first introduction into Ireland by nonconformists following the Reformation in the sixteenth century, through the period of the Commonwealth when churches were formed in Dublin and the main garrison towns, to the decline which set in with the Restoration of Charles II. There followed the “wilderness years” from then until 1800, followed by “the big push” during the revivals of the 19th century. The period from 1900 to the present Dr Speers described as “From regression to stabilization”, and reminded his hearers of the great need to proclaim the gospel throughout the island of Ireland. The second paper was given by Dr Robert Oliver of Bradford-on-Avon on the life of Cornelius Winter (1742–1807), mentor of the far betterknown William Jay of Bath. Converted through the ministry of George Whitefield, he went out at his invitation to minister in Savannah, Georgia. Returning to England after Whitefield’s death, and unable to obtain Anglican ordination, he became a convinced Dissenter, serving for ten years at Marlborough and twenty (until his death) at Painwick in Gloucestershire. “Noted for his catholicity of spirit”, he was a remarkable man whose story is fascinating and challenging. Booklets or CDs with the Conference papers are available from the EFCC office. The 2011 Conference is planned for Saturday 19th October, and will include a paper commemorating the 1611 King James Version of the Bible. Visit the EFCC Web-site at www.efcc.org.uk EFCC now has a broadcasting account at www.sermonaudio.com. There is a great deal of good preaching on this site. You will find increasing material there, too, from EFCC ministers and speakers at EFCC conferences (including Studies Conferences) promoting evangelical congregational principles.

Congregational Concern Spring 2010

17


“Every GP should read this book!” — Dr Judy A. McLaren, family doctor.

“All kinds of helpful information laid out in an attractive form ... fresh and up to date.” — Gaius Davies, consultant psychiatrist, in his foreword.

Dementia: Frank & Linda’s Story New understanding, new approaches, new hope. Through a true narrative that starts with the first, early signs, it focuses on the three important aspects of dementia—living, helping, and spiritual support.

“This book inspires on so many levels – to the carer for whom it is a resource, full of ideas and memory-joggers – but most of all to the dementia sufferer, because it might provide the key to unlock the soul of a Christian whose mind has forgotten the loving God.” — Pam Rhodes, author and TV presenter, (Songs of Praise).

Worshipping with Dementia Meditations, Scriptures & Prayers for Sufferers & Carers. This is a worship resource for caregivers, sufferers, families, pastors, church groups, and medical professionals.

“A rare gem of a book that tackles a much neglected but widespread condition, and does so with great honesty and hope.” — Dr Mark Stibbe, Evangelical Scholar, Conference Speaker, Minister and Author

Could it be Dementia? Losing your mind doesn’t mean losing your soul. Sold out in its first year and still selling strongly.

£8.50 each (including p&p)

from www.pilgrimhomes.org.uk or by cheque to Pilgrim Homes Trading Ltd, 175 Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 2AL

18

Pilgrim Homes Tel: 0300 303 1400 info@pilgrimhomes.org.uk

Congregational Concern Spring 2010


Book shelf Dementia: Frank and Linda’s Story by Louise Morse Worshipping with Dementia: Meditation, Scriptures and prayers for Sufferers and Carers edited by Louise Morse Pilgrim Homes, £8.50 each A review by Rachel Marsh

D

ementia: Frank and Linda’s story is packed with lots of useful information about dementia with some illustrations from Frank and Linda’s life, rather than the book being primarily Frank and Linda’s story. It has lots of practical tips. Mrs Morse clearly explains the importance of the person with dementia being loved and valued by God and how they can still commune with God through the power of the Holy Spirit. There are some useful tips and challenges for ministers and fellow Christians in a person’s church on the importance of not neglecting these pilgrims or their family and their spiritual needs.

Finding the reason

There is much in the book about the importance of meeting the person in their reality and realising that if they are calling out or agitated there is usually a reason, and we just have to try and find it. This is very helpful as well as the section on challenging behaviour and tipping points. The importance of realising that many people with dementia will towards the end of their illness need full time residential care

is very relevant, as there is often a lot of guilt about this.

Useful information

The section on minding the care funding maze has some useful information, although some of it is already out of date due to the fast- and ever-changing rules and regulations. It is no longer always correct that people with dementia cannot get nursing care’ although it is still difficult to ascertain. This will no doubt change again after the election and with the outworking of the dementia strategy. I should like to have seen rather more balance on some issues such as The Office of the Public Guardian: although there are faults with this organisation it was set up to protect the vulnerable, as there are unscrupulous families around. I would agree with Mrs Morse’s advice on the importance of developing a Lasting Power of Attorney with your loved ones, however young you are.

Worship resource

The second book on worshipping with dementia is a valuable set of short Bible readings and meditations along with a prayer and a hymn to read or sing. These are very useful and can either be dipped into or used consecutively. There are some helpful passages on assurance and God’s provision and never failing promises to keep us to the end until we move on to be with him for ever. Dr Rachel Marsh is a consultant geriatrician.

Congregational Concern Spring 2010

19


From the Guest House The Good Book

H

ow many books have you read? I must confess that I have to give the answer, “Not very many.” I recall that I received several books as a prize when I left college in 1950. But I cannot recall reading them! Now, of course, there are lots of books on our shelves here and I often look one up for a reference. I certainly realize that I don’t know everything. I inherited from my grandfather the seven volumes of Lloyd’s Encyclopædic Dictionary. It was printed in 1895 and gives quotations from literature to illustrate words. It also gives the obsolete meaning of words (if obsolete in 1895, how now?!). I turn to it often. But now I must say that, of course, I read my Bible. First thing, when the alarm goes, I turn to the next passage of the Old Testament. And pray through the churches I have served. Then, after breakfast, I read the next passage in the New Testament. I must have read the whole Bible many times. How important it is to know what other people have written. Especially if they are servants of the Lord God. How we need to know God’s answer to all the questions that arise—in our minds or put to us by others. So here I turn to our Lord Jesus for example. He had some very searching and tempting questions put to him. So how did he respond? With all his wisdom he could have said, “I know better.” But he didn’t. You will find that so often his reply began, “It is written.” It’s in the Good Book. Stan Guest

Ruby wedding

Our warm congratulations to Stan and Doris Guest, who on Easter Day celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary.

20

Congregational Concern Spring 2010


EFCC publications Telling Another Generation £0.50 This book contains a symposium of papers originally written to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of EFCC, and as a tribute to Stan Guest, who has been closely involved in the work of EFCC ever since its formation, and retired as secretary of the Fellowship in 1989. Serving as a Deacon by John Legg £1.95 Now reprinted in a revised edition. “Diaconates might find it useful to supply each member with a copy of this work” —Evangelicals Now.

&

E

Evangelical & Congregational £5.00 A brief survey of Congregational history, church order, confessions of faith, the ministry, worship and sacraments. Includes Savoy Declaration of Faith.

C

s p e l t r ut h

spel i ndep e

nd

e nce • g os

el

go

e f c c

go

fe l l o w s hi p •

A brief survey of Congregational history, church order, ministry, worship and sacraments with the Savoy and  Declarations of Faith

p

Children of the Covenant by John Legg The biblical basis for infant baptism.

£0.50

Signs and Seals of the Covenant by CG Kirkby A biblical review of the doctrine of Christian baptism.

£3.50

EFCC also has available these books about Congregational history and church government Wandering Pilgrims Whatever Happened to the Congregational Churches?

Wandering Pilgrims by ES Guest £5.00 Subtitled “Whatever Happened to the Congregational Churches?”

s pe l truth go •

e f c c

l pe

s pel inde p go

fe llows hip

ES Guest

c e • go de n s en

Manual of Congregational Principles by RW Dale The definitive work of Congregational church government.

£13.00

CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP OR

THE CHURCH MEMBER’S GUIDE by

JOHN ANGELL JAMES Edited and Abridged by Gordon T. Booth

d: is Go we LORD not the ple, and peo us, that made are his ture. :3 Know has we his pas 100 he es; selv sheep of Psalm our the and

Christian Fellowship or the Church Member’s Guide by John Angell James £3.75 A practical manual for church members to learn their duties and responsibilities.

All these items are available from the Office Manager. Prices are exclusive of postage and packing. Online purchases available at www.efcc.karoo.net/publications.html


About Concern Congregational Concern is the quarterly magazine of the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches, and is edited by Rev. Peter Beale. All Rights Reserved: no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the permission of the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches. Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations in this publication are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Published in Great Britain by Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. It is assumed that contributors are in sympathy with the aims of EFCC. However, the views expressed in this magazine are strictly those of individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Editor or of the Committee of EFCC. The magazine is made available freely to member churches of EFCC. It will be sent to individual subscribers at a cost of £6 per annum (4 issues) inclusive of postage. Cheques (payable to EFCC) should be sent to the Office Manager. Mailing address details are held on computer solely for producing mailing labels. Names and addresses are not passed on to any other organisation.

EFCC Addresses General Secretary: Rev. Michael Plant 27 The Ridings Longlands MIDDLESBROUGH TS4 2WA Tel.: (01642) 217222 E-mail: mike.plant427@btinternet.com

Office Manager: Mr Anthony Harrison PO Box 34 BEVERLEY HU17 0YY Tel & Fax: (01482) 860324 E-mail: efcc@efcc.karoo.co.uk

Concern Editor: Rev. Peter Beale 37 Tamar Road Bulkington BEDWORTH CV12 9PU Tel: (024) 7631 4606 E-mail: concern@pjbeale.net

EFCC Internet Web-site: www.efcc.org.uk Typeset by Quinta Press, Meadow View, Weston Rhyn, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY10 7RN. Tel: 01691 778659; E-mail: ccinfo@quintapress.com; Web-site: www.quintapress.com Printed by Aldridge Print Group, Unit 9, Mitcham Industrial Estate, Streatham Road, Mitcham, Surrey CR4 2AP. Tel: 020 8239 4100; Fax: 020 8239 4120; E-mail: info@apgprint.com; Web-site: www.apgprint.com

CONGREGATIONAL CONCERN  

Revista da Comunhão de Igrejas Congregacionais na Inglaterra

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you