News from the Networks
East Kent network
Strode Crescent Baptist Church
Strode Crescent has been enjoying meeting for in-person worship for about 2 months now, following the lockdown. Although unable to sing, we are enjoying worshipping using music and songs from YouTube.
Like many churches we have noticed a change in our folk since lockdown, and are now in a position where we are struggling to find people to lead things. Now is an important time to Assess what shape and direction God wants our ministry to go, and be prepared to follow where He leads.
In our services from September we’ll be revisiting what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, and our aim is to start up small Discipleship/home groups to encourage and facilitate this.
We are thankful for the contact we’ve been able to have with our young families during the pandemic and give thanks to God for all the parents and children connected to our church through Nappichinos. Our hearts desire is to know how to give them a space in which they can be encouraged to think about Jesus. It’s most probable that this won’t be through a traditional Sunday morning service.
Please do pray for us as a church family, as we seek to be apprentices of Jesus in the place he’s put us.
East Sussex network
New Hope Baptist Church
Reasons to be grateful:
We’ve been able to keep open most of the time despite the Pandemic
Our giving has increased during the period
We have a Minister coming in July!
150 years of witness in the town
Item 1: Apart from those periods when churches were not allowed to open, we have worshipped together every Sunday morning – albeit 2 metres apart and without singing! Our numbers have fluctuated but we averaged around 20 and new people have joined us. We met for Bible study and prayer each week by Zoom. We have been served well by those in the fellowship and visiting preachers including our previous Pastors Freddie Brookes and John Glover – still a strong messenger at 90!
Item 2: I am amazed as Treasurer each month as we have beaten our target each time. While many I know have suffered financially God has provided even for work that has to be carried out on the building.
Item 3: At times it’s been a struggle for us as leadership, but we rejoice that after 21 months without a Pastor we look forward to welcoming Rev Peterson Anand and his wife Esther on 1st July! Peterson comes to us from Ipswich having come originally from India to train at Spurgeon’s. His heart is to serve the community and we look forward to reaching out more to those around us.
Item 4: New Hope, or Ceylon Place as we were at the start, was formed in 1871 following Spurgeon sending a student to the town to start a church. We will be celebrating the fact on Sunday 19th September at 3pm when the preacher will be Gavin Calver. More details will be put on the Association news nearer the time.
for Peterson and Esther as they come to us – especially for the Induction on 17th July with restricted numbers due to the Pandemic.
for the opportunity we have again at the local Funday on Seaside Rec on 1st August.
for all that God is going to do in the coming days – we face a great adventure!
For the next 150 years!!
Earlswood Baptist Church
Earlswood is a small area just outside Redhill in Surrey and Earlswood Baptist Church is situated at the geographical centre of Earlswood.
Obviously this past year has been very challenging for all of us, but we thank God that we have found ways to keep our ministry going.
We have recently restarted onsite services at the church and Youth Club has also restarted. Through lockdown our Sunday services moved to YouTube. I had 5 days to learn how to live stream, although after a while we moved to pre-recorded services uploaded to YouTube, as the stress of trying to juggle live streaming and preach at the same time was just a little too much. After the service we had a Zoom after service chat where we were able to check in and catch up with one another. We moved our Bible Study, Senior’s Coffee club, Messy Church and Youth Club onto Zoom.
We also managed to maintain our ecumenical links by taking a lead in the annual Churches Together Christmas Carol service which went online and also by producing a Christmas teaching resource for schools as we couldn’t do our usual inter church Christmas experience for local schools.
Do please pray for us as a church as we rediscover in person worship and fellowship whilst also trying to stay in touch with those that don’t yet feel ready to come back to the building. Prayer for the planning and preparation for this would be greatly appreciated.
I’d also like to give thanks for the health of our church community. Although some people have had the virus (including myself), we have been blessed that we have not lost anyone to it. We know that has not been the experience for a great many churches and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that has suffered a loss in the past year.
I would appreciate prayer for us as a church as we reflect and plan for the future. I believe we have an unprecedented opportunity to look carefully at every aspect of church life and to think about all the things we were doing before lockdown and deciding which things should restart, which should be renewed and which should be rested. We ask that God will give us creativity in moving forward, because the last thing we want to do is go back to the old normal. We want to be moving forward, thinking creatively about how we do services, how we do outreach and how we support Earlswood in a post pandemic world.
As a church we would like to give thanks for Home Mission. The grants that we have received have helped to sustain the ministry here at Earlswood and has enabled us to reach out into our community. I believe that we are entering a whole new phase of mission and outreach as we emerge from the pandemic as so many people’s priorities and purposes will have changed. Pray that God will give us wisdom and compassion in order to bring healing, and please pray for many new opportunities to share God’s love in Earlswood.
May God bless you all in Jesus name. Amen
Mid Sussex network
Good News Brighton
My family and another couple started an amazing adventure with God 6 years ago - we moved into a housing estate on the outskirts of Brighton, called Moulsecoomb. We each felt called to reach people who didn't feel that church and Christianity was an option, or was relevant to them. We didn't know anyone in Moulsecoomb when we first moved in. We became involved in what was already happening on the estate, and just started loving and coming alongside people in the area through our daily interactions with them. Slowly, Good News Brighton started taking shape.
2 years into our journey of being in Moulsecoomb, we had use of a building (given to us by the council). We started gathering at the building on a Saturday morning with a small community of people, exploring Jesus over bacon sandwiches and friendship, and also started many social action projects.
Recently the lease for the use of the building was coming to an end, with imminent building plans going ahead to knock down our building to make room for housing. This has been an anxious part of our journey - the uncertainty of our way forward.
Now being 6 years into our journey, our social action groups have grown; helping with child poverty, loneliness and isolation, mental health difficulties and more. Our Christian community has grown in number and a deepening of their faith in Jesus.
We joined community consultation building plan meetings, to find out the plans for the future of our building, at which we have been amazed by the positive response of the community - the local school, pub, families and charities all spoke out in favour for finding Good News Brighton a new “home” in the community. Locals voiced the importance for us to remain and believe we are a vital part of the Moulsecoomb community.
Most recently, the council have extended our lease by a year and a half and are actively looking for a new building for us to move into, once the building project starts.
We just wanted to share how God has blessed us and how a community, who we did not know 6 years ago, and who were not interested in Church or Jesus, are now fighting for a church to stay, and who see Good News Brighton as an essential part of the community.
We will continue to love, come alongside people and share the Good News about Jesus in Moulsecoomb.
North Downs network
The Church on the Heath
As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, we are beginning to discern what from the past 15 months we want to keep hold of and what we will lay down. Pre-pandemic we were experimenting with a new pattern of inter-generational worship . This is something we hope to continue with as we move forward with both in-person and online worship.
We were particularly encouraged by eleven evenings of Thy Kingdom Come prayer between Ascension and Pentecost. Around sixty of us met on Zoom at 8pm. The forty minutes each evening included a short liturgy, silent prayer, and a time of sharing. So encouraging and huge blessing.
Pentecost Sunday was memorable as we gathered in our car park (just opposite Morrisons supermarket) for our morning celebration and the baptism of Jack, one of our young people. The words of blessing spoken over him by his 92 year old great-grandfather were especially moving.
So generally we are in good heart. Like many of us, looking back we can't believe how far we've come, and looking forward we are learning to accept that we can only see as far as the next bend in the road.
Please would you pray:
For a renewed heart for prayer and dependency on God
For Yener our Youth Minister and Tracey-Anne our Children and Families Minister. This has been an incredibly demanding time for them both.
For pattern of worship from September that is both accessible and sustainable as we seek to regather after the worst of the pandemic
North Kent network
Yalding Baptist Church
Yalding Baptist Church has continued Sunday services and home group throughout the last year on Zoom. We are now able to be in the building again every Sunday and restart our Junior Church and little monthly group for the 11+ age group. We have got to know some people new to the village and pray that some of them might settle in our little church! We also pray for more people to join our leadership team and music team.
We have now appointed James Bushnell as pastor-in-training on a voluntary basis for the next 2 years- please pray for him in this role as he also works full time in a paid job!
We recently ran a 6 week Relaxation and WellBeing course on zoom and would value prayers as we consider how to continue to support those in our community with their mental health.
We have a number in our little church with various health problems which stop them being as involved as they would like to be- please pray for them.
Please pray for us as we "reset" after Covid and consider how to reach out into our community with the Good News of Jesus.
South Kent network
Cheriton Baptist Church
Cheriton Baptist Church have launched a 40 Year Vision and fresh expression of our mission statement. The launch of this coincided with our first in-person service back in March and is part of us looking to partner with Jesus in creating a foundation of faith for the generations to come; to see God use us as a body of believers to see long-term transformation in our community as we fulfil the Great Commission.
West Kent network
Bessels Green Baptist Church
After a year of meeting exclusively online via Facebook and YouTube, BGBC returned to gathered, socially distanced worship on the 23rd of May. With capacity for only a quarter of our regular congregation we are continuing to stream these services for those unable to attend in person. Thanks to a generous donation we were able to use the time out of the building productively and refurbish our main sanctuary. Like many churches the year has been a challenge but we have continued to gather the community together and worship as best we can. Groups of six seniors have met in gardens for cream teas or fish and chips, youth work in groups of 15 on the green and one of our small groups has taken on an allotment. We're trusting God for the future and praying for wisdom as we venture into the new normal.
West Sussex network
Worthing Baptist Church
At Worthing Baptist Church we are grateful to God for holding us together as a church community during the pandemic and the lockdowns. We've enjoyed worshipping together through online services, but we are now eager and excited to return to our church building on 11th July. We would appreciate your prayers as we continue to prepare for this and get settled back into our building with the various restrictions. Please pray that we will become increasingly inclusive as a church and that we will have the opportunity to connect with people who have never been to church or who have only had negative experiences of church. Please pray for our many frontline workers that have had an extremely challenging year working in the NHS and other services. Please pray that they will have time to rest and replenish their energies. With love and thanks from Worthing Baptist Church.