Home Mission pics

Home Mission pics

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Paradise Now

Jari Moate is a member at St. Mark’s Baptist Church in Bristol. In 2011, he was the main organizer of Bristol’s first ever Festival of Literature, and he’s also an author; his novel Paradise Now brings together x-factor culture, Islamic Terrorism, and an unexpected experience of the Holy Spirit, all set in a version of urban Bristol just one beat away from reality.

Writing fiction like this is a very different form of mission to the activities usually described on this blog, so when I’d read the book I wanted to ask Jari a few questions.

In the story, video artist Elektra pays the rent by working in a call centre for The Company who produce The One Game  and the Be Somebody makeover range. While her face is picked to represent The Company, far away in the war torn Middle East trainee terrorist Tariq finds a blood stained copy of the Gospels in a dead soldier’s pocket. As you read, you assume their paths will eventually, and dramatically, collide.

What made Jari think of drawing  together the themes of reality gameshow culture and the religious extremism that leads to acts of terrorism?

“It’s all about the brand name: Be Somebody. The core of that ambition that drives someone to get their 15 minutes of fame, it’s the same drive that motivates the terrorist. We try to create ourselves into something that stands out. If 9:11 did nothing else it dominated the TV networks, and that was its aim. 9:11 won the x-factor already.”

There are characters in Paradise Now who are perhaps immune from the drive to Be Somebody – one is the boy preacher Smith Whistledown, who the main character, Elektra, hears preaching in a small corrugated iron chapel when the Holy Spirit floods in and changes her life. Jari sees him as being driven by the message rather than his own desire to prove himself.

The other is a character imported from the 18th Century – in this story, the poet and engraver William Blake is an eccentric art college technician who’s into lots of new age practices, but also has a prophetic role. I suggested to Jari that this character, and that of Blake’s wife, Kitty, have a rather ambiguous role in the story. Kitty is loving, generous character who is a substitute mother for Elektra, but who eventually, surprisingly, betrays her.

“I’ve met people in the New Age World who are quite evangelical and invasive” says Jari. “Kitty Blake actually wants a bit of power. She doesn’t want her protégée experiencing things in a Christian church, so she does something she wouldn’t normally do.”

Jari warns, however, against reading a sermon into this story. “Fiction is not about positing an argument, it’s about the characters. Sometimes Christian readers miss this and that’s why Christian Fiction doesn’t exist in powerful form in this country.”

Jari Moate
“I want to ask the WEBA audience to stand by writers, and work with artists” he goes on. “We want to truly express how we are in the world. Hold fire on the judgement.”

If you’re looking for a last minute Christmas Present, Paradise Now is a vivid and gripping story that will appeal to many readers across the belief spectrum. If you have a relative with an art college or visual arts background, I’d suggest it might be the perfect gift.
Paradise Now is available on the general fiction shelves, and can be found in Waterstones, Foyles, and at www.amazon.co.uk.

Jari is now working on a book about an AWOL solder, and making plans for next year’s Bristol Festival of Literature.

Season's Greetings from Grange

Grange Baptist church would like to say a huge thank you everyone at WEBA for their help and support over what has been another exciting and very busy year. We would also like to wish all our friends and fellow churches in the association a very Happy Christmas and hope 2012 will bring new life transforming opportunities for us all as we seek to proclaim (and live out) the gospel of Jesus Christ in his service.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Evangelism is Simple, Really

Trevor Purnell
Rob Redding
 Here's another story from the WEBA Baptist Times Supplement which is now available from your church secretary or administrator!
Thanks to Trevor and Rob from Milton Baptist Church who were willing to share their story with the rest of us.

Trevor Purnell and Rob Redding have helped each other through a number of life’s ups and downs.

They met when Trevor lost his job and took on work as a security officer. Rob showed him the ropes and they became close friends. Trevor and his partner Jenny looked after Rob when he was recovering from a mild heart attack; then he was there for them when Jenny was diagnosed with cancer and later died.

“It broke him, he was in a terrible state” said Rob. “I decided I had to be there for him.” One day near Christmas, Trevor phoned and asked if they could meet for a coffee. Rob explained that he was about to go to a Carol Service. “I’d like to come” said Trevor.

Although Rob is far from shy about explaining his Christian faith (you can see his baptismal testimony on youtube -www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoECc_NPig8) he’d always avoided going on about it to his good friend. What he didn’t know was that when Trevor was round at his house, and he went out of the room for a minute, Trevor was in the habit of sneaking a look at his daily Bible notes, which he’d left on the coffee table. Trevor went to the carol service at Milton Baptist Church, Weston-super-Mare, and enjoyed it. He went back again on Christmas Day.

“It was like something spoke to me inside” he says. “I knew I had to keep going to church.”

By the new year, Trevor was driving the church minibus, and soon he said he wanted to be baptized. “Since that day I have never looked back, and God truly helps me through both the highs and the lows of my life” he says.

Many of us, like Rob, will have friends who are struggling with life, and the last thing we feel like doing is telling them what to believe. What does Rob suggest we do?

“Be aware of what God is doing around you…Evangelism is simple, really. It’s not preaching the gospel, and shoving it in their faces, it’s living it in front of them.”

Friday, 18 November 2011

"Crime Care" in Tuffley

The Grange Community Crime Care team
 Our special edition of the Baptist Times will be delivered to your church administrator or secretary next week. With this week's announcement that the end of the year will see the paper's final edition, this has become something of a historic opportunity for us. Here's another sneak preview of one of our contributions, from Tony Minter of Grange Baptist Church in Tuffley, Gloucester:
 This Summer Grange Baptist Church was broken into not once, but three times in twelve weeks!
Although the thieves didn’t get away with anything of great financial value (although they did take a large iron and concrete safe) the disruption and destruction was significant. After the adrenaline rush of watching a car speed from the church car park in the early hours, the shock of seeing the damage, walking over broken glass and through splintered doors , the frustration that all your best plans for the week will be re prioritized because of the process of reporting the crime and the pastoral care of ensuring the church’s mission morale remains high. It’s only then, after the crime has been reported and temporarily repaired that the full emotion of what has happened hits home.
In stark contrast to this was the amazing resources of time, materials, skills and care the church members showed as they rallied together to clean up and repair the scene in a matter of hours. This led me to reflect upon how much more painful and traumatic it must be to face these types of crimes if you are a single parent, elderly, disabled or without the financial means, transportation or time to deal with this kind of crime at your own home. Perhaps God was trying to tell me something - but it took three attempts for me to get the message! Actually he was probably telling me something else as well...get an alarm!
Over the next few weeks the concept of a Community Crime-Care project began to formulate. From our own experiences it was clear that vulnerable members of the community could benefit in two ways.  First, a Practical Team who would respond to vulnerable victims of crime and repair and secure their property as soon as possible after the crime.
Second, a Pastoral Team to follow up with home visits and provide friendship and support in the emotional aftermath of the crime.
We organised a meeting with the Gloucester Police and councillors to explore the logistics of such a scheme. It was met with great enthusiasm and support. Local suppliers such as Deluxe Decorator Centre offered free materials and Nicks & Co Timber Ltd pledged to supply wood to replace broken fences or garden shed doors.  Simon Crosskey of Dulux in Tuffley told us: “This is such a positive initiative in the light of so much negative news these days, and we are delighted to participate with this project.”

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Old Forge: Learning from Nepali Baptists

WEBA Senior Regional Minister Nigel Coles is currently travelling in Nepal with BMS World Mission, and sharing his thoughts on his blog, The Old Forge:

The Old Forge: Learning from Nepali Baptists: What are we learning from NBCC? Since our engagement with PMC (Partnership for Missional Church), ‘what are we learning’ has become a favou...

Friday, 11 November 2011

Coming back to God's fold

When I asked for stories for the WEBA Baptist Times supplement a few weeks ago, Carole Sampson of Clarence Park Baptist Church kindly wrote down her own story for us. It reminds me of something obvious - that a simple invitation to a service may be a crucial turning point in a much longer story for the person we're asking. 

Gladys Aylward was one of Carole's

 childhood heroes
 I was introduced to God by my parents, who had an active church life before I was born. They sent me to a good church school and the attached Sunday school. I learned about Missionary work through a comic, ‘GIRL’, where I met my heroes, Gladys Aylward, David Livingstone and Albert Schweitzer. 

When I was ten years old, my godmother introduced me to her own church in the town; a church seeped in the High Anglican tradition. I then met The Rev. Roland Taylor, who had been a missionary in British Honduras (now Belize). He prepared me for confirmation, introduced a Youth Club to the church and fostered my belief. I became a teacher of Religious Education in a church school in the East End of London, attended the High Anglican Churches in Bethnal Green and Leytonstone. 

After working for The Children’s Society,  and a failed marriage, I lost my way. Church life had lost its allure and the members of the church appeared to be less than I had aspired to. So, I decided to go on alone, abandon formalised religion and pray to God on my own.

Little did I realise that my second husband had made the same decision.
His mother was a Roman Catholic, so he was brought up in that faith, attending Catholic schools and churches. He was occasionally allowed to go to services with his father who was the Church Secretary of Trinity United Reform Church in Redland, Bristol, which was better suited to his temperament. But, he too was disillusioned with ‘the church’.

Retirement had to brought us to Weston-Super-Mare and a Health Club. It was here that we met three delightful people. As Christmas drew near, two ladies invited us to the Christmas services at Clarence Road Baptist Church. When we entered the church, we were welcomed with genuine pleasure, discovered that the third ‘delightful person from the Health Club’ was also part of the church and that CPBC shared LOVE and CARE for ALL because of the love of God. We were accepted, and invited to become involved with God’s work. 
We are now back in God’s fold, ready to do our mission for Him, with the help of prayers and fellowship.

Jenny Collins, who passed this story on to me, adds this:
"Caroles account doesnt portray the wonderful enthusiasm she and David have since coming back to Gods fold. They were excited to be part of the T4 team in the summer and we will be blessed as they work amongst us with the skills they have to offer as they serve their Lord. As a church family we are thrilled that they have made their spiritual home with as they have now been accepted into membership."

Friday, 4 November 2011

Missionary Discipleship in Business

Here's another sneak preview of one of the stories for the WEBA Baptist Times Supplement. A bundle of papers will arrive for your church during the last week of November. Make sure you get yours!

On a freezing February evening about fifteen years ago Jeremy Nottingham watched people in business suits react to a young girl in a thin t-shirt who was begging on one of the platforms at St. Pancras’ Station in London. They either ignored her, moved away before she got near them, or got their phones out to avoid her requests.

Eventually she reached a casually dressed young man who had bought a cup of coffee and a baguette for his journey. Jeremy watched as the young man handed them to her, and she walked away.

Over the following weeks Jeremy couldn’t forget this picture. “I was convinced that God was saying there needed to be a closer connection between business and a world in need”, he says. Most of his evenings were spent in church activity – in an environment where 99% of people were Christians:
“I began to think that my primary ministry should be my work life, where the situation was reversed.”

Jeremy teamed up with three others who were keen to set up businesses that would enable them to share their faith. In 2003 Jeremy, his wife Pat and a couple of colleagues set up Add Momentum, a Bristol company which mainly provided financial services. The business was built around a strategic relationship with the charity Hope HIV www.hopehiv.co.ukwhich funds a variety of projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. The charity was presented as a key partner on the company website and as part of the induction process for new recruits, and representatives of the charity were invited to speak at company days away. In addition to giving from profits to Hope HIV, there were fundraising activities and team challenges which gave employees opportunities to develop teamwork and reveal new skills.

This model, while being a response to a world in need, also motivated questions (why are you doing it?) and therefore provided an opportunity to share faith and God’s love with customers, colleagues, and others in the business community. Add Momentum became a victim of the credit crunch in 2010, but Jeremy has gone on to work as a Business Mentor (www.thementorpreneur.co.uk)and also an ambassador for Hope HIV, talking to businesses about the advantages of getting involved in similar partnerships.

Jeremy’s wife Pat runs her own business in Stroud, Curtains Made For You. Go to her website, www.curtainsmadeforyou.co.uk and you can see the way information about the business and its partner charity – in this case, a school for Aids orphans with speech and hearing difficulties – work together, providing hope for those rejected by society, and, potentially, the opportunity to explain the hope we have in us, which is for all the world.

Good News about Grants

Gordon Hindmarch is astonished!
More than 20 Home Mission Grants will be awarded to churches and chaplaincies in WEBA in 2012. This is great news. "Astonishing!" is how Regional Minister Gordon Hindmarch described it.

This means, to give just one example, that Stapleton Baptist Church in Bristol will be able to call Rev Emmamuel Asamoah to work with the church and also assist WEBA in developing ministry amongst Bristol’s multicultural congregations. 

We suggest that all our churches give at least 5% of general income to Home Mission – and we are continually impressed by the generosity of churches who make this a priority when setting budgets, thus allowing churches in our region to follow God’s leading and extend His kingdom in this region. Up to the end of October 2011, WEBA churches gave £188,000. If we can raise another £70,000 we will match last year’s giving.

“As we prayerfully approach the year end church members’ meetings, we would like WEBA churches to consider making an additional ‘thank offering’” says Gordon Hindmarch. “This could be for Home Mission – or it could be for our New Churches Initiative which has wonderfully supported new missional initiatives at Wichelstowe and Painswick.”

We know that these are difficult financial times – but exciting things are happening in our churches, and together we can help them come to fruition.

For lots of news about mission in WEBA, make sure you get a copy of our special free edition of The Baptist Times on the last Sunday in November.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Sunday morning in Upper Rissington

This is a sneak preview of one of the stories we've been sent for our WEBA edition of the Baptist Times. We asked for stories that illustrated mission 'inside' and 'outside' of the church. Sue Handy of Bourton-on-the-Water Baptist Church (which recently joined WEBA) sent us this story about the village that doesn't appear to have a church at all. 

There aren’t many villages in the Cotswolds that don’t have a church, but Upper Rissington – a ‘new’ village that has been developed on a former RAF base not far from Bourton on the Water – is one of them. It has about 450 houses, a village hall, and a small shop, but there is no church building and no established Christian presence. Or so it appears. But come to the village hall on the first Sunday of the month and things might look a bit different.
Not that it looks much like church in the traditional sense, but with informally arranged tables and chairs, an area for smaller children to play, and a kitchen counter for serving refreshments, it has a welcoming feel. There are no hymns, no prayers, no sermon – just the smell of fresh coffee and grilled bacon, and the opportunity to chat with friends, read the Sunday newspapers, ponder the ‘Big Qs’, or join in board games and craft activities with the children.
This is Sunday Café, an ecumenical initiative run by CUR:ve (Church in Upper Rissington: valuing everyone) and supported by the local Anglican, Baptist and Methodist churches. It first opened its doors just over 4 years ago for a 3 month trial period, but the response was so encouraging that it has been providing a regular Christian witness in the village ever since.
The witness is very low-key. There is no formal ‘worship’ and no overt gospel message, although the morning usually ends with a visit from Scruffy – a mischievous puppy (puppet) with interesting things in his bag and some profound comments to make. But the 4 or 5 families who come regularly (and others who drift in and out) know that Sunday Café is run by people from the local churches.
Sunday Café is church in action – working outside of the church – just being there, making a difference in people’s lives, and hoping that one day they too will realise that it’s all about God.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Stories for the Baptist Times

I've been asking churches to send in ideas for articles for a special edition of The Baptist Times which will be sent to churches in November - and there should be a copy for everyone to take away. Our theme will be 'Is church an obstacle to the gospel or our best asset?' and we've had a really good response, lots of stories of missionary disciples either spending time where people are, or finding new ways to use their church (institution or building) to meet a need and answer deep questions. Here's a photo of the new midweek service at Corsham, which has emerged from a lunch club the church has run for a number of years. This caters for a generation who don't like loud music but have some very important questions about life - and this is a place where they can ask them out loud.

I'll try to preview some of these stories on the blog over the next few weeks - and it's not too late to send in yours - please email, with photos if possible, to ruth.whiter@webassoc.org.uk.

The Old Forge: Steve Jobs and Jeremiah

The Old Forge: Steve Jobs and Jeremiah: I don’t envy Jeremiah. To be told, at your induction service, ‘today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and to tea...

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Jenny Collins of Clarence Park Baptist Church told us about their Bible Reading Fest:

Bible reading today from 9.00am - 9.00pm
These details were on a poster which was outside Clarence Park Baptist Church, Walliscote Road, Weston-super-Mare from the 19th to 24th September. Members and friends of the church came together to read the Bible from the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation.  Altogether it took seventy five hours during which time people passing by were able to hear and see this form of faith and witness. How? With the use of a loud speaker and the readers sitting in the foyer with the doors open.  Some passers by came in to listen, others took part in the reading and some came in for prayer for their situations.
Those who took part in reading from the Bible were blessed, one said, “It’s been a wonderful week. I’ve learnt so much and had fellowship with people I don’t speak to very often on a Sunday."  Another, “From now on I’m going to read the Bible out loud."

Friday, 9 September 2011

Down to the River

From WEBA news, Autumn 2011:

 Encouraging Missionary Disciples is WEBA’s two year theme. We’d like to be able to encourage everyone who is part of our network of churches to feel they too are ‘sent out’ as part of Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:19.
In the case of Sue and Ed Humphreys from 3C Community Church in Gloucestershire, this means texting around to see who’s interested,  loading a trailer with their own canoes and kayaks and heading down to the river.

Together with two other church members, they run KC3C – a canoe club which is part of the Christian canoeing Association, Mainstream. 3C Community Church supports the club – and in fact purchased the all important trailer – but nearly all the canoeists who have been members have come from outside the church. There have been nearly a hundred of them over the last three years, with ages ranging from six to sixty.

“There’s no secret that it’s a Christian club when they join” says Sue, “but you can’t browbeat people, you can’t bang them over the head with a Bible. We want to give people lots of fun and hopefully chat to them about Christ. We just befriend them.”

There’s even some reluctance about too many people from the church getting involved. When someone suggested that church members could come down and bring refreshments, it was decided that this wasn’t a good idea, as the canoeists might feel they were being ‘pounced on’. 

This is a gentle, long term approach, and Sue says that the most encouraging results have been people getting over the fear of going upside down, and one youngster overcoming some behavioural problems. “Hopefully in many years’ time, when we’re long gone, some of these people will be running it and have become Christians.”

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

What does Home Mission mean to you?

WEBA churches gave £26,000 to Home Mission during August 2011. This is a really encouraging monthly total and brings us close to the giving levels we saw last year. In a time of financial hardship, when we know many churches face difficult choices, it's clear that enabling mission in this region through support for ministers and special projects is important to you.

For the autumn edition of WEBA news, we asked one minister, one church secretary, one treasurer, and one Regional Minister what Home Mission meant to them:

Carmel Murphy is a student Minister at Lydney Baptist Church in the Forest of Dean. Her stipend is funded by Home Mission. "Through more consistent, Home Mission enabled ministry at LBC we have been exploring what it might mean to be a more mission focused church.  We have always desired to share God's love with those around us and make disciples but are now trying to think more creatively about what that might look like in our community."

Andrea Parker is church secretary and PA to the minister at Amberley Road Baptist Church in North Bristol. This is a small but very active church which benefits from a Mission through Ministry grant and has also been awarded more than one Mission through Project grant.
“With Home Mission funding we have been able to make radical and pioneering moves towards networking with two other local churches which are small in number.  Not only are we, at Amberley Road Baptist Church a recently, rejuvenated, now medium growing church, but we will be able to invest time in helping two other smaller churches move forward and grow; part of that strategy will be planting a church that will be suitable for students and young adults.”

Andrew Small is treasurer of Downend Baptist Church in Bristol:
“I believe it is important to give 5% of our income plus collections from Home Mission boxes to support our fellow Baptists in places where there are financial restraints. This money is used to support churches and other projects so that the 
gospel can be made known, nationally and locally.”

Gordon Hindmarch is the WEBA Regional Minister with specific responsibility for monitoring and encouraging giving to Home Mission.
“As a Regional Minister, I know Home Mission makes a difference through grants for ministry and mission projects acoss WEBA. As a minister who benefited from Home Mission support in my first church, I am convinced Home Mission creates new openings for the gospel.”

Future Fit for Knowle West

A project called Future Fit is hoping to win funding to make homes on the Knowle West estate in South Bristol more environmentally friendly, and at the same time lead directly to helping people into work in an area where some families have no experience of employment.

If you're wondering why this story has made its way onto the 'Making a Difference' blog, the official answer is a little convoluted:

Mike Pears is funded by a grant from Home Mission and by support from WEBA churches to work on the estate as the co-ordinator of re:Source Bristol. Together with the Community of Households, a group of people who have felt called to live and work on the estate, he set up the Tree of Life, a charitable trust to carry out community projects. Future Fit Bristol is a collaboration between Knowle West Media Centre, re:work and Tree of Life.

In other words, we are working with local partners in Knowle West to Make a Difference.

The Future Fit Bristol project, which will support Knowle West residents and builders to make their homes more sustainable, is through to the next round for Energyshare funding.

"We couldn't have progressed this far without our online supporters and signatories and we’d like to thank everyone who has already supported the project," says Mike.
"However, in order to be in with a chance of securing the funding we need more like-minded supporters. Please support the group if you haven’t already and invite your friends to do the same. 'Likes' on Facebook aren't counted, so please visit http://www.energyshare.com/future-fit-bristol and click the red 'Support this Group' button"

Future Fit Bristol will:
• 'retrofit' local homes - adding new features to existing buildings to make them more environmentally friendly
• support builders to develop skills in renewable and green construction
• work with residents to encourage more sustainable living

Future Fit will make a difference to Knowle West, a South Bristol estate that ranks highly in statistics for poverty, poor health and educational under-achievement, but where, through the Carbon Makeover project, residents have already shown a commitment and determination to become more sustainable. Every supporter counts - so please add your name to the list.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Down to the River

WEBA's autumn newsletter has just gone to the printers, and many thanks to Sue Humphreys who helped me with an article about the canoe club she runs with her husband Ed and others from 3C Community Church in Gloucestershire.

I run out of words quickly when trying to describe the way someone like Sue and the others are serving God. I want to avoid overusing new jargon like 'missional' and 'incarnational', but also old jargon like 'sharing the gospel.'

What they are doing shouldn't need jargon - it's too straighforward and natural. They're running a canoe club. Most of the members aren't Christians, but the leaders see it as their life ministry to have fun with these people and help them acquire skills. They are being faithful to God by continuing to be their friends. What happens next is up to him. I wonder why this seems so easy to understand, and so tricky, in a church context, to describe.

Two copies of WEBA news will be sent to your church secretary next week. Please make sure you see it!

Friday, 15 July 2011

What are we doing about making disciples?

Here are a few clips taken from the interview with Peter Lynch of Worle Baptist Church at the 3 in 1 Event at Clarence Park on Sunday 19th June 2011.

He talks about children who are discovering and spreading the gospel on their own initiative - and about the way the church needs to re-think its planning as a result.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Come to us or go to them (from Church from Scratch)

They come or we go? from Incarnate Network on Vimeo.

Mutual Mentoring

On Thursday this week, Rick Lewis, author of Mentoring Matters spent the day with a small group of WEBA ministers and other leaders to talk about how to meet the mentoring needs of our church leaders. If you'd like to find out more, please contact the WEBA office.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Old Forge: congregations learn most from one another

The Old Forge: congregations learn most from one another: "This, amazing photo, was taken during the Vancouver riots following the ice hockey match last week. Apparently it's genuine, not posed - she..."

Friday, 17 June 2011

God Moving in Small Churches

Today I can't resist pulling together three little things that have come through the WEBA office. Grace Tucker at Ruardean Hill (membership: 7) sent me photos of their first baptism in twelve years yesterday. Then I had a request for any churches who might be able to lend Lawrence Weston (membership:11) a water heater for a baptism there. Then there was a request from the new Gospel Community Choir at Shirehampton, who have been borrowing Lawrence Weston's chairs for their rehearsals but now there aren't enough, and they wondered whether  any churches might have stackable plastic chairs they don't need.
Gordon Hindmarch (one of our Regional Ministers) remarked yesterday that exciting things are happening in our smallest churches. That's certainly how it feels today.
Please pray for the leaders and deacons of our Forest of Dean churches who are coming together for a quiet day tomorrow (Saturday 18th June). This is another new and exciting development for a number of our small churches.
And if you can help with the heater or the chairs, do call the WEBA office on 0117 965 8828. Thank you!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Burnham's Transatlantic Baptism Service

Sophia Hurley with Steve Ayers
Steve baptises his daughter Becky
Burnham-on-Sea Baptist Church will be welcomed into the West of England Baptist Association at this Sunday's 3 in 1 Event in Weston-super-Mare. So it's especially good to share with you this baptismal service with a technological twist:

When Sophia Hurley was planning her baptism at Burnham-on-Sea Baptist Church she thought that one member of her family would not be able to see it.  Her Gran, Phyllis Hampshire, moved out to Canada fifteen years ago and she couldn’t travel back for the service. 

However the church was able to set up a link over the internet that meant that the whole family was able to enjoy the service together.  Phyllis, who had to get up at 5 a.m. to watch the service, was delighted to be able to watch the ceremony and talk to her family afterwards.  “It was amazing to see it and I really felt I was a part of it”, she said.  “It was very special and great to be involved.”

Church minister, Steve Ayers, was pleased that the all technology worked.  “We’d never done this before but it worked out really well.  I was really pleased that Phyllis could share in the ceremony with us from Toronto.  It was a particularly special day for me because I baptised my daughter, Becky, at the service too.”   

The Baptism Service was followed by a sit-down meal for 125 people.

Thanks to Steve Ayers for sending us this story, and to Drew Lawrence for the wonderful photos.

Struggling to be sceptical

This video isn't about Baptists in the West of England, but it's a really interesting look at a Liverpool church that is making a difference by an 'unshakeable agnostic' writing for The Guardian:

Friday, 10 June 2011

Home Mission Giving News

On Tuesday this week WEBA tried to hold its AGM.

Unfortunately there weren't enough church representatives present to vote, and so we're going to stage a re-run at the final 3 in 1 Event at Clarence Park Baptist Church on Sunday 19th June.

I felt a little sorry for those who had given up their evening for a meeting which will have to happen again, but we went through the substance of the agenda anyway, and one really useful bit was Gordon Hindmarch's summary of where WEBA is in regard to Home Mission.

All Baptist Union churches are encouraged to give at least 5% of income to this fund so that mission can be enabled across the country.

Recently, WEBA has been one of the highest giving Regional Associations. This May WEBA churches gave £22,228, which we think is brilliant considering the financial climate and the uncertainty faced by so many. There's really only one explanation: you, our churches, trust God, and you really believe in the growth of his kingdom.

What's really interesting, which Gordon pointed out on Tuesday, is that the 2010 total for Home Mission Giving in WEBA (£258,742) was so very close to the total we received that year ( £ 257,431 ) in terms of grants for ministry, projects, special grants to church planters and chaplains, and to the Association itself. So, as your church gives to Home Mission, mission in this region moves forward. A big thank you is due to all of you who make and approve the decisions to give. If you want to find out more about giving to Home Mission, please contact Gordon Hindmarch via the WEBA office.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Nigel takes on big challenge of tiny church

Nigel Price is a member at Cirencester Baptist Church. He's a writer, consultant, science fiction critic, rugby supporter and amateur musician. Now he has taken on the challenge of leading Gloucestershire's oldest Baptist church. Today the WEBA office received this press release which we thought we'd share with you:

King's Stanley Baptist Church was founded in 1640 and flourished for over 350 years. But in recent times, the congregation became smaller and smaller until, last year, the remaining members were planning to close down the church. But the West of England Baptist Association, acting on behalf of the trustees, weren't ready to throw in the towel just yet. Having agreed a five-year stay of closure, they put together a steering group to investigate ways of reviving the church as a place of worship and a centre of service to its community.

As part of the steering group, Nigel Price, a long-standing member of Cirencester Baptist Church, volunteered to act as interim leader for the struggling church, taking weekly services and helping to organise activities once more.

“Once I started working here, I fell in love with the people, the place and the potential of this lovely church,” says Nigel, 54. “I became convinced that God was calling me to serve here and to see what we could do to build up this fellowship once more.”

With the agreement of the steering committee and the full support of his home church in Cirencester, Nigel has now taken on the formal post of pastor at King’s Stanley Baptist Church. He was commissioned in his new role last Sunday, 5 June, in a service led by the Revd Gordon Hindmarch, regional minister for the West of England Baptist Association. The normally small congregation was swelled to nearly 100 for the occasion by family, friends and well-wishers from Cirencester, Chalford, Stonehouse and Stroud Baptist Churches and from Malmesbury Abbey.

The guest preacher was Matt Frost, senior pastor at Cirencester Baptist Church. Using the story of the Bible’s King David and referring to Sir Winston Churchill’s wartime premiership, he spoke about the responsibility of a leader to bring inspiration and vision to those being led.

Nigel, who continues to support himself financially through his work as a writer and consultant, is under no illusions about the size of the task he has taken on.

“It’s a big challenge, but I remain optimistic and excited about what God is going to do at King’s Stanley Baptist Church.”

King’s Stanley Baptist Church is in the village of Middleyard, between Stroud and Stonehouse. Weekly Sunday services are at 10.30 am.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

This is what WEBA is for

On Monday, WEBA Regional Minister Alisdair Longwill and his friend Don Yeomans tackled Day 4 of their Lands End to John O'Groats cycle ride.

This took them from Weston-super-Mare to Stroud - more or less from the bottom of WEBA to the top, so they invited cyclists from WEBA churches to join them along the way, raising money for the WEBA New Churches Initiative which is helping a small group to re-plant a church at Painswick. Others turned up just to cheer us along.

It was a very rainy bank holiday Monday, and everyone involved got very wet indeed, but if you were to ask me why WEBA exists, I think the ride provided the perfect picture. Cycling 60 miles in the rain was so much easier because of the people who joined in for a while or just waited for us with their umbrellas. Surely the journey we undertake as individual churches is likewise better, easier, and more fruitful if we are there for each other at different times along the way.

Thanks to everyone who turned up on Monday, especially to Mary Thomas and friends from Pill, Cath Brown who led the way from Avonmouth to Almondsbury, and the crowd from Minchinhampton. Thanks too to those who've supported either the WEBA cyclists, or Don and Alisdair, by sponsoring them. You can see a little bit of the day on this video:

To give to Operation Restoration, go to


To give to Cotswold Care Hospice, go to


And for the rest of the ride:

Follow Alisdair and Don's blog: two 50s do LeJog

Friday, 20 May 2011

Crossing the road in Gloucester

This interview was recorded at our third WEBA 3 in 1 event in Gloucester. Tony Minter, minister of Grange Baptist Church, talks about working with a local councillor to bridge divides within the city.

God Questions in Calne

This story told by Sam King of Calne Baptist Church at the recent WEBA 3 in 1 Event in Trowbridge features in the summer edition of WEBA news, our printed newsletter. If you want to see it, we'll be sending a copy to church secretaries or administrators next week. It's also available in the resources section of the WEBA website, www.webassoc.org.uk

Calne Baptist Church receive a grant from Home Mission which has enabled them to call Sam as minister and make this story possible, so thank you again, WEBA churches, for your continued support as partners in God's mission in this region.

Friday, 6 May 2011

William and Kate are welcome any time

Andrew Stammers of Radstock Baptist Church sent us this wonderful photo taken when the church opened its doors to show the Royal Wedding:
 We put on a free continental breakfast and lunch. The numbers that attended from the community and fellowship exceeded our expectations. The church was packed with people watching the wedding and the back room with children playing games and doing crafts.

This was another great event to build relationships as well as celebrating that fact that William and Kate were being united before God.

One lovely memory: When the announcement was made that William and Kate were shortly to make an appearance on the balcony, a young lad who was playing in the backroom thought, this meant they were coming to our church so we could see them on our balcony. They are of course welcome any time!

2nd Baptism at The Stowe

Those of you who came to our 3 in 1 Event at Bethesda, Trowbridge, will remember Nicky, who bravely came onto the stage with Alison Boulton just a week before her baptism. Alison and Nicky are part of The Stowe, our new church community in Swindon. They don't have a church building, and baptisms take place on warm days in Ali's back garden! Last week, Ali got in touch to report on how the day went:

The baptism went amazingly well – 48 people came and all stayed for lunch at our house and a pool party! Praise God for good weather! Some of the guests were not local and some were Christians from other churches but it was lovely to welcome some new local families to join us. This was a special day and has given people the opportunity to begin to talk about and explore faith with us. It is a real privilege to be involved in ongoing conversations about faith.  It was also lovely to welcome back some local people the following Sunday too.

Also all last week we had a BMS action team here and we did family and youth activities in the community everyday culminating in a chance to explore the Easter Story on Good Friday and an Easter Celebration and Egg hunt around Wichelstowe on Easter Sunday. Again it is amazing how God is growing deeper relationships in the community (we made lots of new friends). We praise Him that new people came to share our Easter gatherings with us.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Operation Restoration

This video highlights some of the work by YWAM's Operation Restoration in Bolivia.
Alisdair Longwill's daughter Tash worked with them last summer and he will be raising funds for the charity on his Lands End to John O'Groats cycle ride in May 2011.

You can sponsor Alisdair and his friend Don by visiting their justgiving pages:



You can follow their blog:


and you can also join them on day 4 of the trip!
See our Cycle WEBA Challenge post for more details

Friday, 15 April 2011

John and Meg Moseley's Mission Trip: Can you help?

John and Meg Moseley, from Thornbury, are hoping to do a month's short term mission trip to Asuncion, Paraquay, in June with the BMS Volunteer Programme. They will be working alongside the Pastor responsible for "Senior's" ministries who is seeking to encourage the regional churches there in their development of senior's ministries both for their own adherents and for outreach. Until recently in Paraguay, Senior's Ministries have not received as much emphasis as those for younger people. The churches are asking for us to share information and ideas about what we do for Senior's in our churches in the UK, and which they may be able to use themselves. John and Meg would like to pick up as many ideas as possible before they go in June, and would be grateful to hear from any WEBA churches about particular ministries they have developed to serve and reach the elderly. Their contact details are e mail  johnmose68@uwclub.net and tel no 01454 417932

WEBA New Churches Initiative: The Cycle WEBA Challenge

We've renamed the WEBA New Churches Fund because 'Initiative' is a better description of what it is. The dream is the same, though: to plant 10 new churches in 10 years.

On this video I ask Alisdair Longwill (who will be cycling from Lands End to John O'Groats in May and June) how WEBA people can get involved and help raise some money for this year's focus.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Stockwood in Fair Trade Bunting Record Attempt!

 I thought you might like to see  some pictures of what Stockwood Free Church (Baptist) did for Fair Trade fortnight this year.

Fairtrade’s theme this year was ‘show your label’ with a focus on cotton.  Our Adventurers had a lot of fun learning about Fairtrade by decorating cotton triangles and putting them together as bunting to hang in the church.

The children also decorated a banner with the words from Proverbs 22: 22, “Do not exploit the poor”.   Last Sunday morning, the children taught the church about the importance of Fairtrade cotton and how even a small thing such as buying Fairtrade tea instead of our usual brand can make a big difference to people in places such as West Africa and India.

The bunting the children decorated is to be sent to FairTrade.  Stockwood Free Church’s cotton bunting will be sewn together with others church’s and organisations cotton bunting in an attempt to break the world record for the longest continuous piece of bunting.  

Christine Crabbe

Rock UK

Matt Jones is a member at Tonbridge Baptist Church in Kent, and he has written to us about his new mission enterprise, Explore Adventure. You might like to include this in your church newsletter or bulletin:

Explore Adventure is a  programme of exciting UK and Worldwide outdoor adventures providing outreach opportunities to help you and your non-Christian friends and families discover more. More about the world we live in, more about what we can achieve and more about why we are here:

“I found a new boldness to witness about my faith, sharing with my friends about the beauty of creation, leading to some incredibly real conversations about Jesus. The impact was amazing and I know the Lord is now working deeply in my friends heart”.

If you would like to outreach to your friends and family in this exciting and effective way then why not join us on our trip to Snowdon, North Wales on the 17th April 2011. Please look at www.rockuk.org call 0844 8000 222 or email trailblazers@rockuk.org

Friday, 11 March 2011

WEBA 3 in 1 Events

This year's first WEBA 3 in 1 Event takes place at Counterslip Baptist Church in Bristol on Sunday 20th March. There are four 3 in 1 Events this year, and they're simpler, no AGM or seminars, just a chance to worship and share stories together and hear from Nigel Coles on our focus for the next two years, Encouraging Missionary Disciples.

The WEBA staff team met on Wednesday to see which church stories we might want to highlight at each event. I think we all went away uplifted because we could think of so many good news stories - but there will be others we don't know about. If you've got an interesting answer to any of these questions, we'd love to hear from you:
  • How are you seeing people coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?
  • How are you integrating these new Christians into the life of your church?
  • How are you discipling people in your church?
Please don't think that your story isn't big or impressive enough, often the little stories that encourage others the most. Please get in touch with the WEBA office (0117 965 8828 or office@webassoc.org.uk) and we'll put you in touch with the Regional Ministers.

For more information about the 3 in 1 Events, please go to news and events on our website.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Paulton: the full story

 I've had reports back that people found the story about Paulton Baptist Church in WEBA News encouraging, so here's the article in full. You can download a pdf copy of WEBA news at www.webassoc.org.uk on the resources page.

Barrie and Sue Clarke moved to Paulton in Somerset in order to be near their daughter and her family. Their granddaughter’s headmistress happened to hear that Barrie was actually a retired Baptist Minister. She was secretary at the local church, and they were interested in calling a Minister part time. Barrie, who pastored his first church 50 years ago at the time of the Billy Graham rallies, took on the challenge.
Paulton Baptist Church was like many others in our region; the congregation was elderly, and while there were one or two new faces over the next five years, funerals were a more common feature. The church shrank from around 35 attending week by week to just 20. Now at the other side of 80, Barrie began to wonder whether it was time to stop.
 “It was a hard grind,” he says. “The hard grind isn’t doing things, it’s in your mind. When things are going well, you feel better”
Eventually, something began to change.
“After 5 years, a couple came in, and then the next week another couple came in. They didn’t stay, but then another couple came in who did, and it gradually grew from there.” Some children appeared – their parents knew the church from the days when they had attended the youth club. One or two people just walked in off the street, and it gradually grew from there. Now the Sunday congregation numbers between 45 and 60 people.
“ It’s easier to grow when you’ve got a cross section of the population” says Barrie. “If you see there’s a range of people, you’re more likely to stay.”
So what does he think made the difference?
First of all, he says, “wherever the church meets there’s always been prayer.”
Has prayer led to new ideas? “It’s not an idea, it’s being totally welcoming” he replies, and in addition “we tell everybody everything” – which means that no-one, new or established, feels left out of anything that is going on. 
 The church has also put a huge amount of effort into refurbishing the building. They were fortunate in having access to funds the church had invested some time ago, but the folk at Paulton were also willing to get their hands dirty. They stripped the place bare, removing tired Victoriana, and one deacon worked from 6 in the morning until 9 at night decorating until the job was done. Church members bought one new chair each, and the building was also fitted with a new kitchen, curtains, and carpets were re-fitted.
“We’ve got a 5 year plan which started last year” says Barrie, “and we’ve done 4 years already.”
Paulton’s plans encompass much more than the building. A couple in the next village are planning to use their house for an Alpha course; another young couple are considering starting a young people’s Bible class; a headteacher wants to begin a toddler group when she retires, and there are other plans for outreach and home visits. Messy Church is one initiative which has already begun. Barrie explains  that ‘messy’ doesn’t refer to the glue and paint involved, but to being ‘messy round the edges’.
“When I was young you were either a member or not, the parameters were there. The idea of messy church is that there’s all sorts of people coming in.”
It’s clear that the church’s willingness to embrace change has made transformation possible. After all, when the minister is over 80, the congregation can hardly use their own ages as an excuse for resisting it. What would Barrie say to other churches who find themselves  where Paulton was five years ago, with a diminishing elderly congregation who are feeling the strain? He admits it’s a difficult question.
“Keep asking God” he says. “Keep asking God what you ought to be doing.” 

Home Mission Giving News

By now your church should have received a certificate to say thank you for giving to Home Mission during 2010. Please make sure it's on display somewhere! As we've now said many times, giving during 2010 was fantastic and we are extremely grateful for the faithfulness of our churches in difficult times.

Figures for giving in February 2011 have now been published. The good news is, we're still the highest giving association, with gifts for the month totalling £16,010. This is, however, short of the average of £20,000 per month we need in order to provide the support we have planned for. It's extremely helpful for us if churches give regularly by standing order throughout the year so that we can plan realistically - perhaps this is something your church could consider.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Ministers: the repair and prepare service

Steve Gaukroger takes WEBA Ministers through Ephesians

This year's WEBA Ministers Conference at Sidholme in Sidmouth featured two speakers who addressed the theme of equipping God's people for mission. Steve Gaukroger, formerly Pastor of Gold Hill Baptist Church and now Director of the Clarion Trust, took us through part of Paul's letter to the Ephesians, starting with the call to equip God's people for works of service, a word which could equally be translated repair or prepare
Tracy Cotterell
Tracy Cotterell of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity continued this theme with some practical examples, and encouraged Ministers to consider their 'pastoral contract' with their congregations - is it primarily therapeutic or equipping? I think this is a good question for all of us in any kind of ministry. Tracy pointed out that along with any other reasons people might give for leaving a church, they often feel that 'no-one cares' - the pastoral care contract hasn't worked. Can this lead to a tendency to 'convert and retain' rather than 'grow and release'? 
Tracy pointed to research LICC had carried out at Spring Harvest, which demonstrated a great yearning among church people to "become fully the people we were meant to be in Christ." She imagined a 'pastoral contract' to build confidence and equip for mission, one that asks questions such as "What do you need so that you don't miss this opportunity to grow?" 

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Jigsaw's Home Mission Mat

Andrew Stammers of Radstock Baptist Church sent us this lovely photo showing where a little bit of your Home Mission giving went this year:

The children attending JIGSAW, the toddler group at Radstock Baptist Church,  have a giant new play mat to use thanks to a Project Mission grant from the Baptist Union of Great Britain. This is the first stage in an extensive refurbishment of the Church school room and kitchen which the church hope to complete by the end of Spring.

JIGSAW meets on Tuesday mornings 10:00 - 11:30 at Radstock Baptist Church for play, crafts and songs whilst parents and carers have the opportunity to socialise and support one another. The group continues to grow; 52 children are now registered with 30-35 regularly attending each week. Excellent relationships are being formed and monthly 'seeker services' are now being started to help 'bridge the gap' to Sunday worship.

It is fantastic to see so many children happily playing at the group and we are keen to continue to improve facilities for our community so as to continue to build relationship.

Andrew Stammers