Looking ahead to 2021
This may seem something far from easy at present. Chatting to folk I get the sense that the
novelty of lockdown has well and truly worn off and that people are desperate to get out of
it. Along with this can be a depressed feeling that actually it will be hard to get going again
and that things won’t be entirely normal when we do. I agree that things won’t be entirely
normal but I also believe we will adapt extraordinarily quickly and easily even if the way we
do things may have to be different, in some respects, from what went before.
However next year is the 250th Anniversary of the founding of our church, this is the body of
believers meeting together rather than the building which came along three years later. We
intend to celebrate it and have a number of special events which will give us the opportunity
to share not just the history but the faith and trust in God that underlies the history of God’s
people in this place. I will first give you the things that are definitely planned, some of which
have set dates already, and then talk about things we may do. If you have thoughts as to
what we can do to make an effective witness next year please do email or phone me.
On SATURDAY MAY 8TH 2021 we will be hosting the Annual Meeting of the
Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches. This will be a full day of meetings with
worship and preaching to begin and to conclude the day. We will need to offer hospitality to
as many as we can and cater for those who attend during the day.
On SATURDAY OCTOBER 16TH 2021 from 5pm – 7.30pm we will host a meeting for Stuart Burgess of Answers in Genesis who will be speaking on ‘Our Designer World’. Obviously we are happy that believers attend but the main focus is to commend the gospel to those who are not converted. One of the great objections to the gospel is that it is unscientific and
unreasonable and Stuart, who lectures in engineering, will be putting the case that an
intelligently designed universe is far more reasonable to believe in than one which has come
about by blind chance.
The Church Anniversary will take place on 21ST NOVEMBER 2021 and we are hoping that Greg Strain of Spicer Street, St Albans – who preached at my induction - will be our preacher. There is obviously a bit of flexibility about dates but that it what we are hoping
for. In view of the significance of it being the 250th Anniversary we could have a Saturday
meeting as well – either for preaching or to look back on the last fifty years which have been
very significant in the history of the church.
Planned but as yet Undated
The meeting to look back at the last fifty years could be separate from the Anniversary and we also look forward to an evening in which my brother Keith will speak about Augustus Montague Toplady. In the 18th Century Toplady had a connection to the area because he was Vicar of Broad-Hembury. He is well-known as the writer of numerous hymns, the most famous of which is probably, ‘Rock of Ages’. Toplady was a staunch evangelical and a effective and blessed gospel preacher. His story is full of interest and will not only be spiritually beneficial to Christians but spiritually challenging to those who are not yet converted.
We have also talked about the possibility of reaching out to those who have had past
connections to the church, particularly to the children’s and young people’s work which of
course was flourishing at some periods in the church’s recent history. Very probably the
Toddlers’ work could reach out to those they have been in contact with over the years.
There are many possibilities.
PLANNING THE PREACHING MINISTRY
When the lockdown began I moved from what I was doing to preaching a series on God’s love as we know it in the gospel and as it is to be expressed in our lives as individuals and in our life together as God’s church. The reality is that the things we talk about in sermons need to hit the ground in our lives and in the church’s life as we will in time begin to meet together again.
Regarding the morning preaching, I have probably three sermons to go until I have finished 1
Timothy after which I am planning to preach through the first four chapters of Genesis –
these are massively important chapters because our understanding of them undergirds our
understanding of the whole message of the Bible.
We learn about:
1. God’s relationship to his creation.
2. The place of humanity within creation and in relationship to God and how sin coming
into the world through the fall impacts on that.
3. The beginnings of the plan of redemption that will eventually lead to the new heavens
and new earth of Revelation 20 – 22.
Because these areas of truth are the foundations for our faith and life it is clear that if we are
seriously wrong about them it will have a serious and damaging impact on our lives.
In the evenings (take note that we are not sure whether we will be able to run more than
one service a day initially) I have completed a series on Psalm 73 and plan to preach a short
series on a couple of incidents in the life of Elisha. Reading through Elisha’s life in my annual
read through the Bible, I was very aware that there are themes here which are currently
extremely relevant for the Lord’s people. I would expect to be several weeks exploring these
passages and then to move on – where to I am not certain.
I would expect we will be a while in Hebrews both in the Bible Study and Prayer Meeting
and, when we are able to recommence it, the House-group.
When I was talking about this to Margaret she said, ‘You’ll have to stick to what you tell
people’. I have been known, in the past, to announce a series and then change my mind. I
can assure you this is what I expect to do but sometimes events and the Lord’s leading may
lead to changes. What won’t change is my desire to be meeting with you all for worship
Yours with Christian love,
29th May 2020