Last weekend I was invited to lead worship for a group of Churches in Greater Manchester. The Albion pastorate, which comprises Albion, Charlestown and Hurst Nook URCs, held a joint service in the Charlestown church.
Albion Pastorate, Ashton-under-Lyne
Kate and I were given a really warm welcome epitomising (I hope) the URC. The photograph shows a few of the Albion Pastorate members that I was able to round up after the service.
Apart from the warm welcome we received I noticed that another newcomer also received a warm welcome before and after the service. This lady came up to me after the service and said I talked directly to her in my address – isn’t it great what the Lord can do with our simple words? I’m guessing the actions of the church members amplified my words to her.
Like a number of other churches, the Albion Pastorate is without a stipendiary Minister at present but I was encouraged by the warmth, joy and vibrancy of this branch of the People of the Way. I thought I was the one meant to do the encouraging, not the other way round!
Praise the Lord and bless the people of the Albion Pastorate.
I had my first exposure to the political parties this week as I joined the Free Churches delegation to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham. This was a fascinating event, both because of the meetings we had with Conservative MPs and because of working more closely with our JPIT colleagues, the Salvation Army and the Quakers. Overall the meetings have been somewhat of a pleasant surprise for me. I have never really felt at home with all the Conservative Party represents but it was inspirational to talk with committed Christians at the centre of Government, even if I did not always agree with their views. The slogan for the Conference was ‘Building a Country that works for everyone’. This is an easy line to applaud, but everyone that we spoke with did give the impression that this is more than just a slogan … I hope when we eat the pudding it tastes as good as it should!
What do you call a whole load of URCs gathering together for a day out? The answer is ”A Big Day Out” and a great day out it was, for over 600 people of all ages who spent the day at Flamingo Land in North Yorkshire this month. It was great to watch all the young people – and some old enough to know better – on all the wild fairground rides. There were amazing animals to see at the zoo and picnics to be eaten. The day was completed with worship, praising God and witnessing to the good news of Jesus Christ – the Truth declared and folk set free. Over 50 Gospels were given to those who responded to the message of Jesus Christ. It was just one of those special days, which we need occasionally, to remind ourselves that we are part of something much bigger than our own local church and community, and we have a God who is God of all people. As Ashley Evans, Yorkshire Synod Evangelist, described it: “A great day for all the family, with God at the centre.” Continue reading