Saturday, 28 December 2013

My First Christmas with Jesus

For most of us, Christmas is a time of happiness as we remember with our family and friends the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.   But for many it is a time of pain as they remember loved ones that are no longer with us.    For those of us who know the Lord, the following is a poem of unknown authorship,  that reminds of just where those who are in the Lord are right now. 

I see the countless Christmas trees
around the world below
With tiny lights, like Heaven's stars,
reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular,
please wipe away the tear
For I am spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs
that people hold so dear
But the sounds of music can't compare
with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you,
the joy their voices bring,
For it is beyond description,
to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart.
But I am not so far away,
We really aren't apart.
So be happy for me, dear ones,
You know I hold you dear.
And be glad I'm spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift,
from my heavenly home above.
I sent you each a memory
of my undying love.
After all, love is a gift
more precious than pure gold.
It was always most important
in the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other,
as my Father said to do.
For l can't count the blessing
or love He has for each of you,
So have a Merry Christmas
and wipe away that tear.
Remember, I am spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Partners in Mission - Somersham Baptist Church


God has really blessed our church in the first twelve months: we have received a Home Mission Grant. The church had been able to fund me as a Minister in Training, however they felt God’s call for a full-time Minister, which the grant enabled them to achieve. We have really seen the difference moving from a part-time to a full-time Minister has made in the life of the church and our outreach to the community. One area of particular growth is through our work with children and young people. We now have “Tots to Teens” ministries running in the church, during the week and as part of our Sunday Services. This has enabled us to reach the families of eighty children.

The impact has been increased attendance at the “Celebration Services” through the year, including Harvest where we had over 150 people attend a thanksgiving service on a farm. The increase in the time available to me as Minister has meant being able to spend more time in the community, building on the foundations of my first three years here. Linking with our children’s work I regularly take assemblies in both primary schools in the village. I am also being approached more frequently to conduct weddings, renewal of vows services and funerals.

However perhaps the biggest opportunity, and challenge, has been becoming Chaplain of the local Football Club. Knowing the children through school has enabled me to work alongside the Clubs’ Youth Teams but the Club were keen for me to be available to the “First Team”. This has been rewarding, not least in the First Team being promoted in my first season as Chaplain but more importantly the conversations about faith, about life and about really believing in God that take place. It is also an area of deep pastoral ministry. We have also been able to work more closely with the local Parish Church in joint services and events. This has included a shared Fish & Chip lunch after our Good Friday service, articipating in the community’s carnival week with a joint service and a monthly service in the local care home. With all of the above, and more, taking place within the community God has been blessing us within our fellowship as numbers steadily rise, with three baptisms this summer along with growing membership and Sunday congregation. We’re seeing more people encouraged to use their gifts in the life of the church and witnessing where they live and work.

There are challenges ahead as the church grows. Pastorally as new people come in with a myriad of needs. Practically as the 200 year old building is too small to house the growth and work we’re undertaking. Publicly as we become more visible to the community, ensuring the integrity of living out our faith. As we grow we are aiming to come off Home Mission within five years and we continue to regularly give to Home Mission, to support others, praying they benefit and are blessed as we have been.

Rev Bruce Daniels

Friday, 13 December 2013

The Boy

I found this video recently which is produced by the Reformed Church of Hungary which tells the story of a young couple on the road at Christmas time. The young pregnant woman gives birth in a toilet with just anyone who was around witnessing it.  It's thought-provoking because it reflects a young couple 2000 years ago where the young woman gave birth in less than ideal circumstances. It reflects on the grittiness of the Christmas story and comes with its own website too:

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Partners in Mission - Great Yarmouth Port Chaplain

Peter Paine is a man of many talents but his work is totally faith led as he undertakes his role Port  Chaplain. Working in partnership with Industrial Mission and Mission to Seafarers to provide a chaplaincy to the seafarers and port workers, and linking them into churches and other agencies where there is a need.

Peter says: "Visiting of all vessels that come into the port is at the heart of the Chaplaincy – just being
where people live and work–on board. By getting to do regular visits to the vessels you get to know the crews and to gain their trust and friendship.  Vessels that come into port are on a very quick turn around time and sometimes it is just a case of saying “hello” on board, other times you have the  chance to sit down with all and enter into a good chat with the crews."    Making contact back home is essential, and in this day and age communications by email and telephone are high priority, so Peter always has the use of a lap top computer ready in his office, and always carries telephone cards for seafarers.

Back in the office Peter has a store of clothes, books videos, toiletries, and the essential “woolly hat, and gloves”. These are for exchange or to be given out, and he is always looking for more supplies to come in.

As part of the work Peter is supported by The Mission to Seafarers, an Anglican organisation and as part of his commitment to the society he is looking at trying to preach in as many Anglican churches as possible, so Peter would just love to hear from them, as well as Baptist Churches
Over the years Peter has been supported by a Home Mission Grant, and this has enabled Peter to continue to carry on in a full time role.  Peter just loves his job and while he has been Port Chaplain his faith has grown stronger and that each morning he adores getting up to go to work as every day is completely different. He is able to give out many Bibles and Christian literature as he wants and Alpha Courses at sea are a big thing.
Tel: 07788111823 or office01493 850270

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Partners in Mission - Park Baptist Church

Park Baptist Church in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, is one of our EBA churches that have benefited from your Home Mission giving in different ways.  The church is in an area of deprivation yet has been very active in seeking out people groups who are not usually reached with the Gospel.

A growing number of Portuguese speaking people, workers from other cultures, were congregating in the Great Yarmouth area. The church wanted to offer ministry to these people but there was a language barrier. They sought help from Jorge Damasceno, who was then a church planter among Portuguese speaking migrant workers in the UK. They had a minister but there was no way they could support two ministers. Home Mission offered a grant to enable the church to call Revd Leda Schofield to work among the Portuguese speaking congregation in Great Yarmouth.

The congregation meet separately and they also meet together with the English congregation as the church seek to develop fellowship and learn from one another. One of the ways the church has sought to make contact with people in the town was their coffee shop. In a corner of town which also hosts a sex shop and a tattoo parlour the coffee shop came to life thanks to a Mission Project Grant from Home Mission. It was then made possible by a group of older people from EBA churches who were gathered and led by David and Marie Thompson (at Burlington BC in Ipswich). The Thompson’s organised working parties on the shop and transformed it from a dingy premises into something bright and functional, a place to welcome those who may not ever consider going to church, but who need to know that God loves them and that Jesus died for them. Sadly, the church has had to be realistic and cannot staff the shop at the moment but we do pray that they will be able to take full advantage of this facility in the future. It is still being used for special projects but they cannot open it on a regular basis for the time being.

During the past year the minister at Park, Revd Derrick Hill, retired after 11 years at the church. The church are now in the settlement system seeking a new Senior Pastor to work with Leda, the English congregation and the Portuguese congregation. When any church is seeking new ministry, the settlement system, our vehicle for matching minister and churches, is funded by your Home Mission giving.

People come to faith in Jesus through this ministry. People grow in faith through this ministry. Despite being in an area of economic deprivation, because of your partnership in Mission, through your Home Mission giving, a light shines in the darkness and the light of Christ is revealed.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Partners in Mission - Gunton Baptist Church

Gunton Baptist Church is a small church of around 36 members. We are the most easterly Baptist church in the country, situated just inland of the East Anglian coast, in Gunton, North Lowestoft. Gunton is an area that has been identified as having many and varied needs. It is the fourth most deprived ward in Suffolk, and within the top 12% most deprived wards in the country.

Even though we are small, we have a huge heart to reach out into the community-and over the last 12 months we have seen the church grow both numerically and spiritually baptising 8 people into membership in the last year alone.

As the church has grown and developed we have had to restructure our week-we now have 3 weekly
home groups, one weekly youth bible study group, and we are hosting ‘The Y Course’ in partnership with the local Anglican Church. The church doors are open most days of the week, and there is always a mug of tea and a chat waiting for anyone who drops in, and plenty of people do -particularly now we have become a partner in the local food bank. Our Friday drop-ins have become bustling busy mornings where the kettle is always on, andthere is food available for the most vulnerable and needy in our community. It has been our joy to see more and more local people, with no previous attachment to the church, join us on Friday mornings to volunteer -thus helping to build bridges between the church and the community.   As well as our regular outreach programme of events such as our regular ‘Cheeky Monkeys’ baby and toddler group, chair based keep fit, short mat bowls & board games afternoons, our monthly lunch club, Friday drop-in, shower and kitchen facilities, and community larder, this year has seen us take some bigger steps into the community. Building on the success of last year, in July 2013 we opened our doors and cooked a barbecue on the grounds at the front –  we put tables and chairs out and served free burgers, hot dogs, tea and coffee to anyone who was passing. This was a wonderful day, the church band played in the foyer, the church turned out to peel onions and cook burgers and to serve people – and the community turned up in their droves! Several hours and 300 burgers and hot dogs later saw us ehausted but very happy having had the opportunity to meet the community and serve them – we were able to pray with people, and several people have begun coming to the other church activities, and some to our Sunday Services following this event.

Over the course of the year, we set out to follow the vision that God had given us of developing a
community cafe. The big vision is to have an extension built onto the side of the church making better use of the space linking the church to the offices and halls and providing disabled access throughout the whole building. We have received planning permission and fund raising is in full swing, I recently did a parachute jump to raise much needed funds for this exciting project! In preparation for the building extension, we have refurbished one of the front rooms of the Church, this has become a valuable resource from which we launched our ‘Hub’ Community Cafe in September 2013. This room is also used to host outreach groups such as The Y Course.

As you can see, Gunton Baptist Church is alive and thriving and doing the work of the Lord in our community. It is a very lively, very exciting place to be, this being reflected in the growth of attendance at all our weekly activities, and particularly in our Sunday services. 

Thank you for your partnership in mission as your Home Mission giving has enabled this to happen.

This is part of a series called Partners in Mission from the EBA

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Orwell Connection Choir

It's been and gone but the video is still available here

Partners in Mission - Re:New

A more readable version of this document can be downloaded from
The EBA Website

This is part of a series called Partners in Mission from the EBA.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Wood Lane Baptist Church Dagenham

The Becontree Estate was begun in 1921 by the London County Council as part of the ‘Homes for Heroes’ scheme after World War One (the Housing Act of 1919 promised to provide ‘Homes fit for heroes to live in’). Over 300 acres of land were compulsorily purchased, mainly in Dagenham, but also in the boroughs of Ilford and Barking. Manor houses, farms and cottages were then cleared to make way for the new development.  The building of the estate took over a decade to complete.

On completion, the Becontree Estate was the largest in the world. Its 27,000 houses provided new homes for over 100,000 people. With gas and electricity, inside toilets, fitted baths and front and back gardens, they were originally intended for the better-off working class Londoner.


Wood Lane Baptist Church opened its doors for worship in 1932 and is situated on this estate. Over these past 80 years Dagenham has changed in many ways. The two major changes were the “Right to Buy” scheme, which has led to large numbers of Council houses being transferred to private buyers. Which in turn has has led to a large number of properties available for private let throughout the borough. The second major change that has happened is that the ethnicity of the borough has also changed, which has led to some cultural problems within the borough.

When I was approached to become Pastor at Wood Lane back in the Spring of 2003, I would have described the congregation as predominantly from a white, working class background. To day, we are a truly multi-cultural congregation, with many un-waged due to the present economic climate, and as a result of the majority of large industry moving away from Dagenham.

As Dagenham has changed, then so have we as a church. We have deliberately not sat down and put together a strategy about how we could accommodate the many  different cultures into our church, we have accepted one another asfamily and allowed the church to naturally evolve to the point where our cultures have combined; our worship has become more enriched; and we have multi-cultural church; we are just God’s family coming together to worship a God that we all love.

When the BNP were actively canvassing in Dagenham at the recent election we opened our building for other candidates to use for comfort brakes. Some of our members got involved, not canvassing for specific candidates or parties, but by going out and encouraging ordinary people to go and cast their vote. We like to think that these efforts led to the BNP collapse in Dagenham.

Yes, our church has grown and changed in these past ten years. The demographic of the area and the church has changed. People have come to faith in Jesus. Our strong youth work, mainly centred on Girls Brigade and Boys Brigade, continues. We sent one of our members into ministry as an accredited Lay Pastor in Suffolk. One thing has not changed, and that is that Dagenham isstill not a very prosperous area. We have recently experienced our third break in at the church this year, this time the safe itself was stolen. Security and personal safety are always an issue to consider with regard to the congregation and the buildings. The 80 year old buildings have needed a lot of repair and care.

Without the support of Home Mission we would have struggled even more than we do now. Home Mission has allowed Wood Lane to support a full-time minister, which in turn allows the Good News of Jesus Christ to be spread more widely , especially in our schools work and becoming more involved in the local community.

To all those churches that support Home Mission, we at Wood Lane, would like to say a very big THANK YOU.

This is part of a series called Partners in Mission from the EBA.