Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Pope Francis and the Daily Mail.

Regular listeners to my sermons would not automatically expect me to write an article that would embrace both the Pope and the Daily Mail in a positive way.   Yet to its credit, the Daily Mail has produced quite a challenging article on Pope Francis' Christmas message, which in itself was a challenge to the Curia, the most senior RC leaders.

What's that got to do with Baptists you may well ask?   Quite a lot.   The Pope's speech wasn't about Marianism, theology or grand plans, but connecting with Christ and connecting with God's people.   So below are the 15 criticisms of the Curia, and I can't help thinking that Christian leaders everywhere shouldn't be reflecting on them too - as, quite remarkably, the Daily Mail also points out.   In fact everyone who follows Christ  should reflect on what he's said because we're all guilty of some of it sometimes!

Members of the Curia receive the Pope's speech enthusiastically - not!

During today's Christmas speech Pope Francis read out 15 sins that he believed the Curia was guilty of complete with footnotes and Biblical references. These included:

1) Feeling immortal, immune or indispensable. 'A Curia that doesn't criticize itself, that doesn't update itself, that doesn't seek to improve itself is a sick body.'

2) Working too hard. 'Rest for those who have done their work is necessary, good and should be taken seriously.'

3) Becoming spiritually and mentally hardened. 'It's dangerous to lose that human sensibility that lets you cry with those who are crying, and celebrate those who are joyful.'

4) Planning too much. 'Preparing things well is necessary, but don't fall into the temptation of trying to close or direct the freedom of the Holy Spirit, which is bigger and more generous than any human plan.'

5) Working without coordination, like an orchestra that produces noise. 'When the foot tells the hand, 'I don't need you' or the hand tells the head 'I'm in charge.''

6) Having 'spiritual Alzheimer's.' 'We see it in the people who have forgotten their encounter with the Lord ... in those who depend completely on their here and now, on their passions, whims and manias, in those who build walls around themselves and become enslaved to the idols that they have built with their own hands.'

7) Being rivals or boastful. 'When one's appearance, the color of one's vestments or honorific titles become the primary objective of life.'

8) Suffering from 'existential schizophrenia.' 'It's the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of hypocrisy that is typical of mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness that academic degrees cannot fill. It's a sickness that often affects those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic work, losing contact with reality and concrete people.'

9) Committing the 'terrorism of gossip.' 'It's the sickness of cowardly people who, not having the courage to speak directly, talk behind people's backs.'

10) Glorifying one's bosses. 'It's the sickness of those who court their superiors, hoping for their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, they honor people who aren't God.'

11) Being indifferent to others. 'When, out of jealousy or cunning, one finds joy in seeing another fall rather than helping him up and encouraging him.'

12) Having a 'funereal face.' 'In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity. The apostle must be polite, serene, enthusiastic and happy and transmit joy wherever he goes.'

13) Wanting more. 'When the apostle tries to fill an existential emptiness in his heart by accumulating material goods, not because he needs them but because he'll feel more secure.'

14) Forming 'closed circles' that seek to be stronger than the whole. 'This sickness always starts with good intentions but as time goes by, it enslaves its members by becoming a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body and causes so much bad — scandals — especially to our younger brothers.'

15) Seeking worldly profit and showing off. 'It's the sickness of those who insatiably try to multiply their powers and to do so are capable of calumny, defamation and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally to show themselves as being more capable than others.  (Daily Mail, 23/12/14)

Pity the DM missed out the Biblical References the Pope gave but I could find plenty of Biblical support for what he said.


Sunday, 21 December 2014

Glen Scrivener - Christmas in Dark Places

Many of you enjoyed Glen Scrivener's poem at the Carols by Candlelight service, so I've reproduced it here.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

December 7th Sharing Jesus Articles

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Saturday, 29 November 2014

November 30th Sharing Jesus Articles

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Saturday, 8 November 2014

November 9th Sharing Jesus Articles

Woodbine Willie Video Teaser Ad

Here's the Woodbine Willie video excerpt shown at church on 9th November. The full video can be obtained soon from the INdustrial Christian Fellowship at the Woodbine Willie Website

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Allenby: From Felixstowe to Armageddon

If Felixstowe and Armageddon aren't two words you would automatically associate together, then you've probably never heard of Edmund Allenby - well at least not until now.  For Edmund was the First Viscount Allenby of Megiddo (Armageddon) and Felixstowe.

The video explores how that came about.   Allenby was most famous for his victories in Palestine, particularly taking Jerusalem from the Turks in 1917.  His finest hour though was his victory at Megiddo in August 1918 which let to the total rout of the Turkish army.

If you want to know more about Allenby, then there is quite a lot of information on the internet.  His Wikipedia entry gives some good introductory information, but there are also some more authoritative articles on him if you do a search.

Allenby was very much a child of his time, both as someone brought up in Victorian England and as a soldier during a period when warfare was changing and involving killing on a scale never seen before.

There is evidence that Allenby struggled with the carnage of the Western Front, when he lost his only son.  The posting to Palestine was much more his forte, both in  terms of the nature of the warfare involved and as an opportunity to reflect on his Christian faith.  On the other hand he was a tough soldier and as his nickname "The Bull" suggests, was a bullish character.  When the final offensive in Palestine came, he did not hesitate to ensure his enemy was totally crushed.

The aim of Allenby's Palestine Campaign was to reduce the Turkish threat to British interests in Egypt as well as preventing any expansion towards India.  Turkey had sided with Germany in the First World War and even in 1917, there was still the threat of losing the war.  After the War was won, the British policy in the Middle East was not really thought through - shades of the Iraq war 90 years later perhaps?   The ending of 600 years of Ottoman Turkish rule left a vacuum into which pressures both from Zionist Jews and local Palestinian Arabs started to come into play.   The  Balfour Declaration seems to have been a product of political expediency at the time rather than anything that might have had a religious connotation.

Despite the Balfour Declaration, the British were not in a hurry to establish a Jewish state while they held the British Mandate.  The establishment of Israel in 1947-48 was very much reflective of the horrors of World War 2 rather than British policy which was very cool towards Jewish settlers in Palestine by the end of the mandate because of the tension between Jewish settlers and Arab residents.

As I said in the video, up until Allenby's Palestine campaign, the notion of a Jewish homeland in what had been for 600 years part of the Ottoman Empire, was not seriously considered.  In fact Zionism itself only really started in the early 19th Century.  Until that point, Jews had been persecuted extensively for centuries - no-one entertained thought of establishing a Jewish state - it was inconceivable.

Yet in Bible prophecies of end times in the Bible, a Jewish state is an integral part.   An independent Jewish state had not really existed since 586BC although Jewish people had been allowed to have various levels of self-government in other empires until eventually the Romans took all that away from them in 70AD by tearing down the city walls and destroying The Temple.  That marked the end of Jewish self-government.

But now Israel is back.  A restored Israel takes centre-stage in prophecies in the Old and New Testaments.   And of course there's the prophecy about the end battle where Jesus returns : Armageddon.

One of the things we do know about Allenby is that he had a great understanding of the Bible and of Palestine.   He is said to have always carried a Bible and Sir George Adam Smith's Geography of the Holy Land.   In his capture of Jerusalem and his victory of Megiddo, he had a sense that he was making more than history.  He also knew the significance of Megiddo, even though he knew his battle wasn't Armageddon.

For Christians in this generation, the existence of a state of Israel is a sign of the times - a pointer to the end times that prophesied in the Bible, with the end being the bodily return of Jesus Christ.  It has been anticipated by Christians down the centuries and there are over 300 references to it in the Bible - around about the same number that predicted his first coming.

As I said in the video, we may not know when Jesus will come but we can be prepared.  In fact we can know his presence in our lives right now, through trusting and following Jesus.  There's no need to wait.  

Monday, 4 August 2014

Hope Trust Bereavement Support Group is back.

Boost Official Academy Partnership Launch

Boost has officially launched its Academy Partnership. Here's a video that Josh has made for it and the official Press Release.

The Trustee Board of Boost Felixstowe Ltd are delighted to announce the launch of 'Academy Chaplaincy', a brand new partnership between Boost and Felixstowe Academy.

This partnership sees Boost employ Josh, our youth worker, to be present full-time at the academy, in the role of Academy Chaplain, with the aim of unconditional support, advice and guidance to students. This role officially begins from September 2014.

The term 'Chaplaincy' may conjure up certain images in your mind. Today, chaplaincies and chaplains are found in hospitals, schools, airports, the armed forces, and large companies. Chaplaincies work differently in each context and are adapted to the communities in which they find themselves.

Academy Chaplaincy at Felixstowe Academy has three clear aims:
  • to support students: to offer pastoral support, advice and guidance unconditionally to all students, regardless of background, academic achievement or faith.
  • to explore faith: to encourage young people to explore faith for themselves and to develop the tools they need to confidently engage with spirituality.
  • to build community: to encourage activities and projects which promote interconnected communities proven to support young people and their families.
This partnership has been in the planning for 14 months as we've worked together to support Felixstowe's young people in the best way possible. This is a partnership both Boost and Felixstowe Academy are proud of and we look forward to working more closely together as we seek for all young people to 'live their lives to the full' and 'make their best better'.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Parables in Mark

From June to August we are looking at the parables of Jesus in Mark's Gospel. Here is the list, references in Mark and parallel passages in Matthew and Luke. 

Sermons in this series can be viewed in the sermons archive.

     Mark 4:1–20, Matthew 13:3–23, Luke 8:5–15 
      -   The "Parablettes" of the Lamp and Measure 
          Mark 4:21-25 
     Mark 4:26-29 [unique to Mark] 
     Mark 4:30-32, Matthew 13:31-32, Luke 13:18-19 
     Mark 12:1-11, Matthew 21:33-46, Luke 20:9-18 
     Mark 13:28-32, Matthew 24:32-36, Luke 21:29-33 
     Mark 13:33-37, Matthew 24:42, Luke 12:35-48

Monday, 30 June 2014

Prayer for Iraq and Syria

 There are major challenges in this region at the moment with the ongoing war in Syria and the new outbreak of violence as large parts of the country of Iraq are being taken over by the extremist Sunni group, ISIS.  Iraq is now divided into three:  the mainly Shi'ite south run by the Shi'ite-biased Maliki government, Kurdistan, an autonomous region in the far north of Iraq, and in between, the mainly Sunni north captured by ISIS.

ISIS have now declared that a large swathe of land in Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq under their control as an Islamic State or Caliphate.   Meanwhile the Iraqi Army is trying to dislodge them from the cities they have taken, particularly Tikrit.

The main concern in both these conflicts is that Christians are caught in the middle. There are significant Christian populations in both Iraq and Syria, and whatever tolerance there has been to Christians in the past has all but evaporated in areas of conflict - and Christians have been targeted by both Shi'ite and Sunni groups.

Many Christians have been murdered as part of ongoing atrocities by the two large Muslim groups, and a considerable number have been displaced to refugee camps.
This is what Open Doors reported:

Up to 1,000 Christian families have fled Iraq's second largest city of Mosul after it was taken over by militant jihadists. Taking only what they could carry, Christians fled to the relatively safe 'Kurdish' region or to the Christian Nineveh district in the countryside. The militant army, called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), took control of Mosul early on 10 June, prompting a mass exodus of citizens.

Reports from the BBC indicate that up to 500,000 people have now fled the city. The situation in and around Mosul is becoming much worse, said Open Doors' representative for Iraq. "Mosul soon will be emptied of Christians. This could be the last migration of Christians from Mosul." "We didn't even stop for our shoes, we fled in our sandals!" Open Doors sources report that some 200 Christian families are sheltering in the monastery of Mar Mattai some 12 miles from Mosul.

A further 50 families are sheltering in a monastery in Alqosh. Others have fled further afield to Erbil, capital of the Kurdish autonomous region of Kurdistan, where they are taking refuge in local churches. "We left the food and ran," said one mother of four. "We didn't even stop for our shoes, we fled in our sandals! We just made sure to take our IDs and important papers. The children were very scared."

A church leader shared: "Pray that we can return quickly to Mosul, because the future is unknown for us all. How can we live, find work for an income? Pray for peace in Iraq," he added. "We have had enough of wars. Nowhere is safe here." Since capturing Mosul and much of the Nineveh province on Tuesday, ISIS has moved on to take the city of Tikrit, and the towns of Saadiya and Jalawla in Diyala province. A highly fanatical al-Qaeda offshoot, ISIS is notorious for killing Shia Muslims and Christians. Its core leadership is made up of Iraqis, but its rank and file hail from all corners of the Arab world, as well as Europe and south Asia.

Source: Open Doors; World Watch Monitor; Guardian; BBC 

UPDATE  22nd July

The Islamic State (formerly ISIS) have told all Christians to leave Mosul or face execution.   It is thought that all but a few have now fled to the relative safety of Kurdish Northern Iraq.

Source:  Baptist Times

Please Pray: 

That those who have had to flee their homes will find a safe place to stay
For protection for the Christians who have been displaced and for the very few who now remain in ISIS held territory/
That the Iraqi government and other international leaders will have wisdom in handling the crisis.
Pray for an end to all bloodshed and instability in Iraq and the wider region.
Pray that world leaders will act wisely as they try to respond to what is happening in this region.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Awayday 2014

This year the Awayday was actually away from Walton, being held at The Hut on the seafront. We were warned by the forecasters that the weather was not going to be as good as we had hoped, but it only rained once during the day, and that was when we were all indoors. As the afternoon progressed, the sun came out.

There was a mixture of "regulars" as well as a few new "Awaydayers" who started the day with the mandatory cuppa followed by one of Sylvia and Maurices' quizzes. The one that stumped most people was the date of Midsummer's Day which is 24th of June, for those of us who didn't know. There was a sumptuous lunch of fish and chips and for those who didn't want to sit and relax after all that, there was an opportunity to have a walk along the front. Some of the day's helpers even braved a paddle.

After all that, there was a singalong - no it wasn't Chas 'n Dave playing the old time favourites - it was someone else! Mark ended the afternoon off with an epilogue about how things near to The Hut have changed over the years and how God has already prepared for us a way in which we can be sure of eternal life.

Then it was back to the cuppas and the cakes before homeward departure and a chance to put feet up!

There were the usual bevvy of helpers from MRBC, Seaton Road, St Mary's, Hope Trust and Parish Nursing who worked very hard to give everyone a good time. Many thanks to all of them, particularly Debby, who coordinated all the organisation. Roll on next time!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Curiosity killed the cat video

Curious about the relevance of this video? We've already had the sermon with it in.   It's on the Sermon pages here.  You can also listen on:  our audio live stream archive.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

New EBA Regional Minister Appointment

The Eastern Baptist Association has appointed a new Regional Minister to replace the Rev Paul Hills who retires in February.  He is the Rev Nick Lear, who is currently one of the ministers at Colchester (Eld Lane) Baptist Church.  

Nick will take up his responsibilities on November 1st  of this year. Please pray for Nick, Sally, the family and the church at Colchester as they adapt to the new role and Nick’s moving on from the church.   He and the family will move to Wickford in the early summer of 2015 and he will serve the Southern Sector.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Church of the Year Project

We were recently made one of the EBA's churches of the year for 2014-15.    We have produced an information sheet about it and it's reproduced here.   But first, check out the introductory video.


Maidstone Road Baptist Church is situated in the Walton Area of Felixstowe, the oldest part of the town.  The church dates from 1808 and the present church buildings date from 1811, although they have been altered and extended considerably over the years.


 Back in 1811, MRBC was the first non-conformist chapel in the area and was sited amongst the fields on a quiet back lane.   Today the whole area has been absorbed into Felixstowe, a thriving town, dominated by the Port of Felixstowe, Britain's largest container port.   Indeed, Walton is primarily a working class area with most of the local inhabitants working in port-related industries.  Felixstowe is also a traditional resort town and has been a focus for retiring incomers.

The church currently has some 80 members, around half being drawn from Walton; the rest being from the wider town of Felixstowe and the Trimley villages to the north of town.     MRBC is the only EBA church on the Felixstowe peninsula.   Walton has two other local churches, Anglican and Methodist with whom we have excellent relations.

Over the past few years, the church has seen shifts in its age pattern towards the more senior age groups, which is part of a general trend towards ageing church populations both nationally and locally, and for much the same reasons.     Therefore the church has been challenged towards re-evaluating its mission, with a view to seeing how it can be more relevant to the community it is a part of, and communicate with it more effectively.    This is against the background of it being situated in a mixed-generation community.  There are numerous opportunities to engage the community.   The street has three schools on it, and will be the closest church to a new development of 90 homes, with the possibility of 400 more on an adjacent site.

In order to help us explore our mission strategy, we called on the services of Mission Consultant, Tim Lovejoy in 2012.    In his report, Tim helped us identify our current strengths in mission and made recommendations as to how we could be more effective.   We are very much committed to Walton in our mission.  One of our success stories in recent years has been the starting of a Parish Nursing ministry, which has recently embraced our neighbouring local churches in Walton to develop an innovative joint ministry.

Tim made a number of recommendations that the church has enthusiastically adopted.  One was that the church make much more of the front of the building.  This would be to make it more obvious (it is set back from the street), accessible and welcoming.      The area in front of the building was once part of the burial ground surrounding the church but the headstones were removed some time ago, and the present garden and access paths laid.  

Carols around the Christmas Tree
Open Air Worship

In recent years we have used the space for open-air services, family events and Christmas events, but the walls and shrubbery limit usable space and the grassed area is too soft to rest equipment on.  Three of these events are pictured above.    We would love to be able to use the area for a much wider variety of mission and community activities as well as improving overall accessibility and visibility.

We are also replacing our rather dull noticeboard with something more conspicuous.

Planned Works

We see this primarily as a mission project – to make the building feel more accessible to the community and to create a useful outdoor space.  The idea is to make us “part of the street” by taking down most of the front wall, removing the shrubbery and laying down a much larger paved area.   It will also give us the opportunity to widen the entrance to the car park which is narrow, and make a drop-off space for the elderly and disabled.  A diagram is below. 

The new paved areas will generally follow the present "flow" but will cover a much greater proportion of the area in the front of the buildings to give an "open" appearance.  Levels will be adjusted with surfaces sloping  gently to eliminate all steps including at doorways therefore making access easier.

As the front of the building is quite dark in colour (red brick mostly) the new paving will be as light as possible in colour in order to brighten the area.

Small areas of grass and planting are to b
e retained to provide some colour at the front of the church and also simplify and improve surface water drainage. Retaining some areas of garden should also reduce the likelihood of residents driving over the open areas as parking in Maidstone Road can be a problem.

At present all of the windows and most of the doors at the front of the building are glazed in obscure glass making it almost impossible for anyone to see people inside the church. Part of the scheme includes re-glazing the windows and doors with clear glass making it possible for people coming to the church or just passing to see inside .

The cost of the work is estimated at £14,000.    The church plan to cover the cost from the giving of its own membership, but invites churches in the EBA family to give towards this project as one of its Churches of the Year.

More information can be obtained by contacting Mark Reid - details on the church website.  Cheques should be made out to Maidstone Road Baptist Church.

For your information, the other Church of the Year is Gunton Baptist Church in Lowestoft. 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Orwell Connection Choir are back at MRBC






Orwell Connection Choir Summer Concert

 Date: 17 June 2014 Time: 19:30 - 21:30

Concert with the Orwell Connection Choir. 
Also readings by Janet Dann. 

In aid of Parkinson's UK (Felixstowe Branch). 

Refreshments served at end of concert. 
Admission free - retiring collection. 01394 286388.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

To Boldly Go

No, it's not another plug for Star Trek but the title of the EBA's new look Annual Assembly.   It's going to be in Sheringham from 7-8th of June and looks to be like an action packed weekend.   Why not give it a try out?   Apart from the usual worship, there's loads of things to do.  The EBA have produced a promotional video and it's here for you to have a look at.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Jesus on the Mainline - Prayer Card

Let's talk about worship: New resource from the BU.

1 LetsTalkAboutWorship

Let's Talk about Worship

A study group resource in eight sessions exploring worship, prompted by a video conversation with Chris Ellis (Baptist Union President 2014-15) and Ruth Rice (Minister of New Life Baptist Church in West Bridgford).  This resource includes Bible verses, study group questions, a transcript of the video for each session, and links to view and download the videos to show in your small group.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Walton Churches Quiz Night

The Quiz night was a joint venture with St Mary’s and Seaton Road, and was a fun evening, aimed at all, not only dedicated quizzers and over 50 people came.
Quizmaster Tim took the helm for a the various rounds and desserts and drinks were served half way through the evening.

People had a great time and money was raised for the forthcoming Awayday at the end of May.  Keep your eyes out for other activities the three churches are doing during the year.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Listening to God and Prophetic Ministry

Got a call and gifting in prophecy?  Then check out this event coming very soon at Christ Church.

Growing Older, Growing Wiser - Should I stay or should I go?

Hope Trust are holding the second of their sessions called Growing Older, Growing Wiser soon.  Details are below.   It's on the difficult of issue of if and when it is the right time to move int housing better suited to one's needs.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Baptist Union Council March 2014

We've received this report from Hayley Beckett, who is Secretary of the Eastern Baptist Association on the BU Council meeting of March 2014. This is reproduced below.  Subsequently, a much fuller account has appeared from the  Baptist Times and this can be found by clicking on this link.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Peter Stanford: Britain's First Black Baptist Minister

I came across this recently in the Baptist Times.  It's the fascinating story of a man who overcame much to become a leading Christian figure in Birmingham.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Baptist Voice March 2014

There's a new version of Baptist Voice out for March 2014. It is primarily aimed at people with visual impairment or who can't get to church, but actually it's pretty relevant to everyone!

Click on the Soundcloud link below to listen to it.  If you know someone in MRBC who needs a CD, please go to the sound desk as there's a copy there, or see Mark.  If you're from somewhere else, then contact Ralph Birtwhistle at BaptistVoice13@gmail.com  if you don't have facilities to download and burn a disk.

From this edition onwards, we would direct you to the Baptist Voice website to listen to future podcasts.   We will put reminders up about new podcasts from time to time on our Twitter feed which appears on the front of the MRBC website.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Mothering Sunday All Age Service

Our much loved Mothering Sunday Service is back again in 2014.   Do come and invite your family and friends - especially Mum!   If you want a poster or flyers, you can pick them up at church, otherwise they can be printed off from the links below.

A4 Poster      A5 Flyers