Geoff, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be a church leader and set apart for the Gospel of God,
To all the saints at St.Barnabas, the faithful in Christ Jesus. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As I prepare to speak and preach for the last time this Sunday I not surprisingly have been remembering the many wonderful things that God has done in our fellowship over these last 22 years.
I have also been remembering those who have gone before us Nellie Selves, Sheila Elliman, Dick Winter, Dot Friend, Jane James, Peter Lawrence, Pete Lawson and many other Saints who ran their race to the finish line. I have been thinking about how a small church like ours has encouraged four men to go forward for ordained ministry Cecil Clark, Pete Studely, Dan Ingles and Matt Smith and has also encouraged and inspired a young lay reader David Wells to become over the years an excellent preacher.
I have been thinking about our special weekend holiday visits to Sidholme in Sidmouth, where God shaped and moulded us into a church fit for purpose, and where he also performed more than one miracle as Mike Dorey survived after nearly drowning, where Sharon Raymond following healing prayer got out of her wheelchair, and where God powerfully met Matt Smith and turned his life upside down.
I have been thinking about the many efforts some of us have been involved in over the years trying to reach out to the community of Bearwood with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Holiday clubs, special Christmas and Easter events, summer food and activity events in the car park, praying for the Streets of Bearwood, knocking on doors asking folk if they wanted us to pray about anything, Light Party alternatives to Halloween, Fashion shows The wonderful New Years Eve parties with some outrageous Fancy Dress costumes. Giving the church a name St.Barnabas after many years as Bearwood Church centre. And raising £450,000 to build and extend our building fit for a 21st c ministry.
I have been thinking too about the way our next door neighbours building and life was transformed by some amazing input from members of St.Barnabas.
Some of you will know nothing about this but 20 years ago Bearwood Community Centre was in a very bad state. It was more of a drinking club than a community centre. A number of church members who were meeting as a small group felt God call them to pray for the situation to change, and they started prayer walking around the centre. To cut a long story short God moved, things happened and the stranglehold that had restricted the centre was dealt with. I and a number of others from the church joined with volunteers from the estate and formed a new Committee
I personally was involved for 10 years, others like Leslie Legg, Pip, and Lynne Rowe stayed for longer. From being a lost cause it actually won awards for the transformation. The situation now though has deteriorated once again and I would urge St.Barnabas to raise up a new group of people who will seek to invest time and spiritual energy into making the Community centre healthy once again. Please think and pray about this. You may not be called to be a preacher or a worship leader, but many of you can sit on a committee and make important decisions.
I have been thinking too about the two loyal men who have shared my ministry and worked with me so faithfully over these last 22 years, Cecil Clark and David Wells have been and are such a blessing to St.Barnabas and I thank God for them. We are very different in personality and I am sure that they have wondered sometime what on earth I was doing but they have been incredibly loyal and supportive. Please continue to treasure them and support them along with Ron Fletcher and Andrew Palmer our church wardens.
I have also been thinking about an evening less than 3 years ago when I met with around 24 Kids Church teachers and helpers who were excited about sharing Biblical material from “Answers in Genesis”. Our children have been taught some foundational truths rooted in God’s word and many seeds have been sown into their lives. Covid 19 though has stolen some of this growth and fruit, the thorns and the weeds have damaged this work, and it needs prioritising and rebuilding once again. Some teachers and helpers have stepped down but they need to be replaced by other church members who have a passion to see our children living for Jesus. Please pray for this vitally important work.
During this last sermon series called “What’s in a name” all our preaching at some point was directed and had its focus on Acting on the Acts of the Apostles. David Wells challenged us all with his pithy phrase “Are we ACTING or are we Acting”?
It’s time folks to step up to the plate. This time of lockdown has done tremendous damage to all our churches. Coming out of Lockdown is a time to rebuild.
Paul wrote this to the Galatian church 6 v 9 “Let us not weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up”.
It has been my privilege to be your Vicar for the last 22 years but Teresa’s ministry and my ministry is just another chapter in the story that God has been writing here. We look forward to hearing in the future all that God is doing among you.
Every blessing to you all
Geoff & Teresa Boland