As we come to the end of a year like no other, we pause to give thanks to our heavenly Father as we recall some of the highlights.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassion’s fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Throughout the Pandemic we are thankful that we have been able to continue meeting both on line and in person. We give thanks that our meetings have been enriched by the benefits of inviting international speakers and guests from all around the world.
Notably from Zimbabwe Jenny Hensman and former Pastor Peter Neal as we celebrated the Church Anniversary and Harvest services.
We are also thankful for another great year for our Bible College which continued during the lockdown, where again we were able to invite several renowned international speakers;
We have also continued our regular meetings with Churches within the Renewal group with record numbers attending.
A sign of Gods timing, on the 4th July saw the first weekend where Churches were permitted to reopen following the Lockdown allowing Anderson and Adwoa to celebrate their wedding. Although we have not had any dedications we give thanks for a number of new births and celebrate with the new the parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties and siblings. We are looking forward to the day when we can welcome the children into the Sanctuary as they enrol in the Sunday school and take their place with the other children.Also during this year particularly during the periods of lockdown we have seen an increase in new members joining the church and the inclusion of new visitors curtsey of Zoom. Our Brazilian partners have also seen amazing growth throughout the lockdown.
We are also very thankful for the work of the admin team with the successful completion of the risk assement and the enhanced cleaning regime. They have been amazing with all that they do, let alone all the additional challenges they faced keeping agile and adapting to an ever changing and at times very unclear path forward. Their efforts have enabled the church premises to be fully utilised as the toddler and support groups resume safely during lockdown.
Another sure sign of God’s faithfulness is for the first time in the church’s recent history we are on track to break even and close the financial year in the black as the gap between giving and expenditure narrows. We give thanks that throughout this year the level of giving has not fallen.
We are also thankful for God’s providence and timing in regards to the generous offer of a grant from the Baptist Union for the exciting Cafe project, which will present wonderful opportunities to serve the local community.
Speaking of the community we give thanks for the way in which the wider community have come together with acts of kindness for those in need. Those shielding or in isolation. For the new appreciation shown to front line workers. Notably doctors, nurses, medical support staff, porters, cleaners, paramedics and ambulance drivers. For train and bus drivers for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep things going. For bin men, taxi drivers, shop workers.
We are also thankful for those in governments, those with incredible tough decisions to make which directly affect lives, finances, employment and safety of the populations of the world.
We are also thankful for some of the heroes that have come out of this time of testing, Major Tom and others who were an inspiration to many. We give thanks for the many individuals and groups that have had their efforts and actions recognised in the Queens New Year Honours.
We are also very thankful for the medical breakthrough of a vaccine, and the hope that this has generated. We are especially thankful that it has been developed in record time. We pray for safety and effectiveness and also for the logistics for delivering to those in need including the poorer countries that are often overlooked or forgotten. We close with the first and last verse of the hymn by Edward Plumtre – Thy Hand O God has guided.
Thy hand, O God, has guided
Thy flock, from age to age;
The wondrous tale is written,
Full clear, on every page;
Our fathers owned thy goodness,
And we their deeds record;
And both of this bear witness:
One Church, one faith, one Lord.
Thy mercy will not fail us,
Nor leave thy work undone;
With thy right hand to help us,The victory shall be won;
And then, by men and angels,
Thy name shall be adored,
And this shall be their anthem:
One Church, one faith, one Lord.