Connect December 2015
Invitation to a Journey
Step Out is a great opportunity for young people to put their faith in action alongside the local church by reaching out to local communities. We heard at assembly of the difference having a Step Out team made to Knightswood Baptist as they ran their summer children’s work and youth nights. If your church is looking to make a difference in your local community this summer then please consider hosting a Step Out team. By doing so, you will give our young people the chance to put their faith into action as you work together. Also…Do you have young people aged 14-21 who are ready for the challenge of mission? Step Out is a great way for them to spend their summer, growing in faith, building friendships and serving among our Baptist churches throughout Scotland.
It was some ‘Invitation to a journey.’ “The Lord is with you… Do not be afraid, Mary.” So began the journey that would change her life and the world. A journey of joy and sorrow, of honour and rejection, of pride and embarrassment, a journey from obscurity to notoriety. Yet despite the uncertainty and fear, her response is full of faith; “I am the Lord’s servant…may it be to me as you have said.” Mary accepts the invitation and takes the first steps as she leaves for Elizabeth’s home. The shepherds were also given an ‘Invitation to a journey.’ Invited to leave the hillside and venture into the town. An invitation for outcasts to be welcomed, for the keepers of the sacrificial lambs to see the Lamb of God, for those who facilitated worship to become worshippers. Finally the Magi are given an ‘Invitation to a journey’ guided by a star. An invitation communicated in a way they understood that drew them away from all that was familiar to them and opened up new possibilities for obedience, devotion and generosity in worship. I pray that those who visit our churches this Christmas will hear, in a way they can understand, the ‘Invitation to a journey’ of our Lord who calls us to follow Him. That those familiar with facilitating worship would have a refreshing encounter with Christ through his Spirit. That those who find our services unfamiliar places would be welcomed in and that we, who already call him Lord, might be willing to take the first steps in a fresh response of faith.
Rev Alan Donaldson General Director
Find Out more at scottishbaptist.com/step-out
Baptist Union of Scotland
The Power of Story Last week I heard a great story about a new church in Glasgow that is mostly made up of Muslim converts to Christ. I heard another good story about an innovative church plant in Aberdeen and a memorable account of a church in Fife reaching out to migrant agricultural workers. I heard all these stories at the Baptist Assembly. Over the two days in Motherwell I also benefited from some excellent Bible teaching and enthusiastic worship, and I had many stimulating discussions with friends from around the country. But I was struck again by the power of story The stories of God working in and through his people made a deep impact on me. I have not forgotten the teaching, the worship and the discussions, but the stories have affected me more deeply. Why is that? I guess it’s partly because they are testimonies, stories owned by someone who is saying ‘This really happened; I’m a witness to it.’ And it’s partly because they are told by people like me and so they increase my expectations of how God can use me. Much of the revelation God has given us in the Bible comes in the uniquely arresting form that is story. The Old Testament people of God defined themselves by the great stories of Creation, Exodus, Kingship and Exile. The earliest followers of Jesus made it their business to treasure, preserve and retell the stories of how God’s Messiah had lived, taught, died and risen again. Our churches today are formed by stories we tell and retell. Primarily these are the stories of scripture but also the stories of our own communities. Unfortunately some repeatedly tell the destructive stories of failure, disagreement or broken relationships – not recognising that one definition of forgiveness is ‘to stop re-telling to yourself and to others the story of your hurts’. Thankfully, many more people among us are telling the stories of life, transformation, reconciliation and the power of God at work among us like treasure in jars of clay. These were the stories that made such a strong impact on me at the Assembly. I believe we can be a movement of storytellers. We can all encourage and influence one another not by the power of coercion but by the attractiveness of the stories we cherish, the stories we tell and the stories we live.
Rev Martin Hodson Ministry Development Coordinator
Hill-walking enthusiast along with sailing and listening to music. His aim is to live out the vocation of a missionary disciple and equip others for this role through teaching, training, mentoring and apprenticeship. He has a strong commitment to world mission and has served as a president and trustee of BMS World Mission.
Retirement Housing During the Assembly we acknowledged the key decisions made by Council in the past year. Primarily we noted the formal closure of the retirement property scheme to future applications. The scheme has served twelve ministers and their spouses, and continues to give housing to ten. 10 years ago ministers were notified of the likely closure of the scheme and advised to seek to make their own plans for retirement, which most have now done. We are very grateful to those who gave their homes as a legacy over the years to allow this scheme to exist at a time of great need. We would invite those who have planned to leave property to this scheme in the future to contact our Union’s finance director Rev Peter Dick to discuss the implication of the closure of the scheme. 07765 019 734
The theme of Mind the Gap permeated the whole of Assembly this year as we explored together the gaps between the church and specific aspects of Scottish society, as well as the gaps between our ministries of compassion and proclamation. During the Assembly we heard of new opportunities for mission development in Scotland, including the replanting of Dennistoun Baptist Church and a new church plant in Bridge of Dee in Aberdeen. We were also told of opportunities to serve in communities of Scotland with high levels of deprivation through the Union’s partnership with Eden; it is our hope to see a team of committed disciples move into an area for 5 years to support a local Baptist Church. “Theology to go”, a new training initiative for leaders in Urban ministry, was launched and more details can be found on our website.
Thanks to our new communication strategy, much of what happened at Assembly is available to view online, including some of the poetry of Lucy Berry, some of the preaching of our speakers and segments of reports from around the churches.
scottishbaptist However due to the sensitive nature of some of the preaching at Assembly, several of the talks are only available by request from recognised church leaders. email@example.com
A variety of reports from churches working to narrow the gap between church and 18-40’s, refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers were heard, including the story of the Kahaila café in London. Kahaila exists to be a Christian presence in a young multicultural community in London, seeking among other things to support people who have been trafficked and those seeking to move on from a life of prostitution. This year Assembly had a special offering to be used for service among refugees in Europe. Many churches have also had offerings locally which they have added to the Assembly offering. Currently £12,000 has been given which will be distributed to refugee projects through BMS World Mission, European Baptist Federation and the Baptist Union of Scotland.
Martin Hodson, our new Ministry Development Coordinator, was formally commissioned for his ministry among us during a time of recognition of those ministers who were retiring and those beginning their ministry among us.
The Bridge Community Church is a new church in Aberdeen that aims to partner with God in seeking the spiritual and social renewal of Aberdeen through communities encountering the gospel. They want to be a place where the unchurched find a home, where broken people can encounter the gospel of grace and be transformed. The church is currently made up of a group of folks journeying together in community. The bridge is built around the table, a place where food and life are shared and thanks is given for all that we have. In this pairing of the mundane and the sacred there is a place for wrestling with who Jesus is and how our how that changes us and out place in the world.
More about The Bridge The bridge is focussed on reaching the Bridge of Dee area of Aberdeen. Mission for the Bridge currently takes two forms: Relationships. The gospel is best shared in a context of relationship. We make intentional decisions about our time to make space for those outside the church.
Generosity. In our context the church is not thought of as generous, so finding ways to express the generosity of god in practical ways has opened conversation and relationship. This has included handing out bottles of water at the local walking/cycling path, providing Christmas gifts for the elderly in the community and supporting people in the neighbourhood in crisis with meals and babysitting support.
The Bridge Community Church is committed to working with other gencies, church and organisations where there is a shared commitment to the renewal of neighbourhood.
December Prayer Link December 6th
Strathendrick Baptist Church - Here at Strathendrick we are thanking God For several new young families. We have a close link with an SU group at the High School and would like prayer for a proposed Christmas event at the local primary school. Stromness Baptist Church
December 13th Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church
PRAISES - In November we baptised our newest member, Michael. He recently came to faith as a senior adult when one of our members befriended him and started bringing him along to our church. His testimony is as precious as is his bright countenance. Michael radiates the love and beauty of Jesus. Pray with us for more glorious conversions as we share our lives and faith in the Mearns. PRAYER - It is nearly time for our church’s annual Christmas Eve carol service. In mid December—rain or snow—we are hand delivering 2,000 carol service invitations and 2,000 Christmas cards. The church children are designing the Christmas cards, and they are excited about sharing the joy of Jesus. Ask God to draw people around our church at this time of year, and ask him to give the best gift of all—the forgiveness of sins. In January our church is starting Mainly Music for mums and tots. The training and preparations are well under way, and the church people are uniting around this ministry. So far about five unchurched mums are showing interest. Pray that the mums we know will sign up and pray that word-of-mouth spreads quickly. Stranraer Baptist Church Prayer point - for the leadership as we have started a program of systematic visitation of the members and adherents and for the congregation as they would be visited. We are seeking to look at giftedness in the fellowship and as we do this seek wisdom about the opportunities we have to serve God, each other and our community. Praise point - A local group APEX who have received funding to set up a Recovery Cafe for people coming through addiction, have chosen to use our facilities as the base for this cafe, which will run one afternoon each week. This is a great opportunity to meet and help some of the needy people in our town.
Thurso Baptist Church - We are thankful for God’s grace among us as we witnessed 14 baptised in the past year. Pray with us that we will see more decisions to follow Christ. We have outgrown our building and pray that God would show us the next step as facilities in Thurso are scant. Pray with us as we seek to replant the church in Scarfskerry and already have a small core forming. “Rejoice in the Lord, again I say rejoice!”
Praise Point: We thank God for all those coming along to our Drop-In Cafe, and for the relationships being built. Prayer Point: We pray that we would listen well to God as we are focussing on what it means for us to be Good News in Tillicoultry and wider afield
We give thanks for the stunning renovation of the Baugh Church premises and for Ian Tainsh who has contributed so much to the work. Pray for us as we meet to prayerfully discuss how to best use our premises to share the Good News with our fellow islanders. Pray for Tiree High School, the staff and pupils and the church’s involvement with it. Pray for the witness of the Christian community to the island. Pray for the island wide Christmas services.
December 20th Uddingston Baptist Church - Give thanks for our midweek coffee meeting “Cornerstone” for the friendships developed and time offered for those who come to meet others and chat. Pray that the presence of Jesus would be experienced in that meeting. Please pray for the fellowship as we sense a real need to seek God and a renewed vision of our purpose here in Uddingston. That we would sense God’s leading as to how we make Jesus known in our community. Viewfield Baptist Church Westray Baptist Church Praise for increasing numbers and new members joining the church. Prayer for Hugh McConnachie who has just returned as part time pastor and for non christians who attend the church regularly. Westwood Baptist Church Praise: For a strong, diverse but united Church that is a lively witness at the centre of the Westwood neighbourhood. For an excellent team of leaders and the high number of Christians who are actively involved in the service of the Church. Prayer: For continued involvement at Duncanrig Secondary School Chaplaincy Team, outreach through the Foodbank, that we find ways to better engage with those in the neighbourhood and through our social networks leading them to Christ and for transition that lies ahead as the Pastor, Nigel Heath, retires next September after twenty years of service at Westwood.
As the largest Christian media organisation in the UK, Premier is leading the campaign Christmas starts with Christ this year so that we can make an impact and demonstrate to the population that, in amongst the noise, the fun and the silly jumpers, Christmas is about something more meaningful.
Find Out more at christmasstartswithchrist.com
December 27th Whytes Causeway Baptist Church Give thanks with us that we are moving forward after coming through a time of vacancy. God has encouraged us by adding to his Church and providing Ron Rye as our Pastor. Pray that Ron and his wife Stephanie will be sustained for the pressures of study and pastorate. Pray that God’s plan for the future work of the Church and pastorate will be plainly seen and for our faithful commitment to it. Wick Baptist Church Wigtown Baptist Church - We praise God for meeting all our needs, and for encouraging us with good attendances on Sundays, a youth club that is growing again, and our efforts to combat loneliness and rural isolation. Pray that we might play our full part in the fulfilment of Wigtown’s ancient motto: ‘O God, let Wigtown flourish by your word in Christ, our only head’. Wishaw Baptist Church Praise that the number of young people in the Church Bible Class has increased this year to 16 (age 11 -20). Pray that the Lord would send us a Youth worker to take over this work.
Christmas Starts with Christ is a campaign aimed at helping churches to make Christ and the amazing story of his birth the focus of the nation’s favourite time of year. Our vision is for the message “Christmas starts with Christ” to be visible amongst the busy-ness of the season, to act as a reminder that although there are many ways that we mark the celebration, Christ is the true meaning.
A round up of what happened at our assembely last month