The World in Bristol

By John Ellis

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Redland Park URC, as rebuilt 1957

Bristol has always been an international city. The unkind would say its prosperity was built on the obnoxious slave trade and then on the unhealthy promotion of tobacco. For the past 150 years our Redland Park church has been a beacon amongst the city’s most influential residents witnessing to another sort of wealth.

Today it also hosts the Bristol Korean Church, which draws its worshippers from a wide area of up to an hour’s drive around Bristol. Their minister, the Revd Bohyun Kim, is supported by the URC’s Special Category Ministry scheme, which is such a valuable feature of our overall ministry provision.

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With Revd Dougie Burnett and other leaders of Redland Park URC and Bristol Korean Church

One significant trend in the United Reformed Church over recent years, which has been very evident on my travels, is in the use of our buildings on Sundays by a variety of congregations using different styles and languages for worship. This may not be ecumenism as the URC’s founders imagined it, but when history has given us a building that we only use for part of Sunday, the prospect of it resounding to the praise of the living Lord Jesus morning, afternoon and evening should make us rejoice – in whatever language we prefer!

On my visit to Bristol, the Korean congregation worshipped together with the conventional URC one in a joint service. This meant we had a strong, combined choir leading sung responses in both languages and some other parts of the the worship could also be bilingual.

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Makokoba Presbyterian Church

The international flavour was enriched in an unexpected way when I mentioned Makokoba Presbyterian Church in Bulawayo, which I visited on my Moderator’s tour of the URC’s partner Churches in Africa. One of the Redland Park Elders, Truida Mutare, came forward to tell the congregation that she grew up in that part of Zimbabwe and had some of her school classes in the Presbyterian Church premises. Through her enthusiasm a sense of the World Church being one family came vividly alive for us all.

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With Truida Mutare

1 thought on “The World in Bristol

  1. Michael Jagessar

    Thanks for this John. Another John – Revd Wesley was right: ‘the world is my parish’!!!

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