We spent a week wondering whether we were going to be able to make the journey from Doncaster to Amersham for a Saturday engagement and then on to Portsmouth for Sunday worship. We had Plan A (travel by road) and Plan B (travel by train). In the event we were able to make the whole journey by road, trouble-free and were glad we had made that decision – the travel news kept telling us that the trains were diverted/late/cancelled.
Our journey took us first to Amersham Free Church. This was a place with balloons, a cake, food and lots of happy people celebrating the culmination of considerable work and planning to re-order their hall – making it more open to the outside world, build a new kitchen, and give the potential for even more community involvement than has been the case. “This building used to look at best, like a squash court or even like a prison – there were almost no windows” we were told. Now, of course, begins the hard work of ensuring that the hall, kitchen and crèche room enables the witness to God’s love to grow and develop in response to his calling to this group of Christians. Saturday’s event included worship, dedication and blessing of the new rooms and an opportunity for the community both to visit and to show something of their ongoing work using the church premises.
On Sunday we went to Buckland United Reformed Church in Portsmouth. It was good to share in worship with this congregation who were celebrating the 175th anniversay of the church but rather than merely looking back, were looking to the future. They were thinking about how to re-order the interior of the church building to give them more flexible space for 21st century worship, they have recently agreed to share ministry with IBEX – mission to the economy of Portsmouth and in that they find huge support from the local authority for faith involvement in the life of the town.
The elders told how they have grown in their own faith as they have taken responsibility for the leading of some of the weekly services. This was a church which sees the future as witnessing to the community in which it is set using the skills and enthusiasm of its own lay people and being ready to hear God’s call to help them in their work.