Over these next two months there are a number of special events as we run up to the summer break, and I hope that for many of us in Abingdon Baptist Church (ABC) we will find each one an encouragement.
The first is the ordination of my co-pastor, Steve, during the morning service on the 12th June. We look forward to welcoming our fellow church member, and Regional Minister, Colin Norris to lead the act of ordination on behalf of the wider Baptist community of both Association (Southern Counties Baptist Association) and Union (Baptist Union of Great Britain) to which we belong as a local church. Steve has already been inducted as a pastor here at ABC, and together with me we comprise the ministerial team, having served among you all for a year now. There may well be other inductions to come should either of our ministerial working lives extend to other churches in the future (not that either of us are looking…..!) but ordination is a once-in-a-lifetime event that sets a woman or man apart for service as a minister within the whole church of Jesus Christ, and for us Baptists, specifically within the churches of the Baptist Union. The church here at ABC will be asked to share in that ordination and so it is especially fitting that this takes place during a Sunday morning service, with the numbers swelled by Steve’s family and friends from a wide orbit coming to share in this special day.
We will be reminded that every Christian disciple is called to serve Christ and his world through their own particular calling, and ordination certainly does not make a minister ‘special’, or more important than any other church member. However, the church throughout the ages has recognised some among its members who are primarily called to serve the church in a more focused way than most, (those who serve Christ through teaching, or business or health care; homemaking, emergency services or the military, for instance). This ministry of serving the church as the focus of life and the way of being a disciple has sometimes been described as the ‘ministry of Word and Sacrament’ – to borrow a Reformation phrase – or, to use a phrase that was adopted by a review group on ministry that I led a few years back for the Baptist Union, ‘bearing the Word.’ This is much more than preaching, of course, but relates to the way in which all we do should refer back to Christ, the living Word of God, and the record of his life in the Scriptures, and that those of our actions which speak of his life and saving purposes for humankind becomes his Word in action. Steve will be committing himself to such a way of life – a sacrificial and costly way of life – and we shall pray that the Holy Spirit will fill him afresh to fulfil that calling throughout the remainder of his life. Can I encourage you to pray for Steve as he approaches this important day, and make sure that you can join with us for this ordination? Thank you!
Later, over the weekend of 16-17th July we shall all have an opportunity to review and renew our service of Christ and his church, especially in the context of ABC, at our Renewing our Resources Weekend. It will include plenty of opportunities for fun, with an afternoon of relaxation and games here on the Saturday, ending with a barbeque; and a bring-and-share lunch on the Sunday. But it also will have a serious intent. What might God be calling us to renew by way of our service of him and our use of time and energy, and what of our finances might he be calling us to bring as a special offering? The focus of the latter will be the Development Project, which is approaching that crucial phase of commissioning the work to complete the renewal of the church sanctuary. The Church aspires to raise a further one hundred thousand pounds by the end of this year, giving us sufficient to complete the fund raising with a loan from the Baptist Union, and enabling us to put the work out to tender. It does mean that in a year’s time I hope we shall know when the builders move in, even if they have not yet started on the work. So, come to this weekend there will be seminars on giving, a twenty-four hour prayer chain ending as the Sunday morning service begins, and a special emphasis within the morning service, as well as those fun activities which I have already mentioned. Pray too about what God is calling you to offer to him through this way, and if you can, join the prayer chain for an hour over that period, either at church or at home.
During these two months we also welcome our BMS link missionary, Becky Hembury to our morning service on 19th June, have a dedication planned for July, while the Summer Parade barbeque takes place on 3rd July. Meanwhile Steve and I will be reflecting on those virtues from Colossians 3 that are embedded in this year’s text during most of our morning service sermons, and helping us to see once again what the character of the Christian looks like as it is reflected in Scripture and rooted in Christ. All-in-all a busy and exciting few weeks before that well-earned summer break.