News from the Networks
East Kent network
Faversham Baptist Church
I can’t remember when I last wrote some news to share with the SEBA community, so please excuse any repeats. Like other Churches, many of our members have struggled with lockdown and not being able to meet to worship. Some however took to the ‘Virtual Church’ experience and, sadly ‘in my view’ continue to worship via our live YouTube feed.
We have been back in ‘The Meeting Place’ for worship since March but have only just started singing in the building. Our Worship Group led their first live service on 5th September.
In October 2020 when we were allowed to meet as a Church, the Membership took the momentous decision to investigate a new home for Faversham Baptist Church as it is now widely accepted that ‘The Meeting Place’ is no longer fit for the needs of the 21st Century.
Thank God for the care and leadership of our Pastor Geoff and our Diaconate during the last 18 month of restrictions.
Thank God that we came through the pandemic with only a few members succumbing to its grasp.
Thank God that we can now meet again in person.
Pray that God will fill people with the desire to meet again as ‘Church’ Heb 10 v25
Pray that those leading worship will find their gifts renewed to serve the fellowship.
Pray for guidance for the small team investigating moving on from our old building.
East Sussex network
St Leonards Baptist Church
After the first lockdown we re-opened in September 2020 under the rules in place at the time. We decided to close again over Christmas with the hope of starting again in the New Year. However! With the steep rise in infections it was decided to remain closed and aim to open again on Easter Sunday. Since re-opening we have held a successful bereavement course and small groups are beginning to pick up again. Despite bleak times we have added two new members to the church family for which we give thanks.
However! The reality is, our congregation is small and not getting any younger.
The number of people able to do stuff is dwindling. Therefore the future is uncertain. We need to seek God about what to do when our current minister retires in three years time.
Give thanks for: Continued growth - no matter how small!
Give thanks for: People who can do stuff!
That we will see growth in number.
For renewed vision for the future.
For the resources to complete urgently needed repairs to the building.
Merstham Baptist Church
Welcome to Merstham Baptist Church, Weldon Way, Merstham. Pastor Bryan Pickard is the current minister and travels from West Sussex 2-3 Sundays a month. Bryan has recently been able to support Marie McBann in the past year whilst she undertook Bible training, we have been blessed by her creativiety when leading the service. There has been a Baptist Church in Merstham since 1874 and original Church plant from Redhill Baptist. Firstly on the main High Street (top Merstham) and then in the 1950’s in Weldon Way. Currently we meet in 2 portacabins. Like many Church’s we have had to adapt our way of Worshiping and Felowship during Covid. Firstly on line learning all about Zoom however amazingly we did it even managing quiz nights and Bible sharing and prayer meetings.
2021 saw a change that none of us were expecting, our dear friend Deacon and worship leader Phil Buttle was called home to glory on the 8th May. Leaving behind his wife Jane and grown up children Joanna, Cat and Tim. The Buttle family are well known to so many within the Baptist Church Family & Phil had an amazing talentand a big big heart for Jesus
When Church’s were allowed to reopen their buildings, we needed to rethink how we could do worship without a worship leader. Phil was so much more than that humble but so much more.
MBC is now working in partnership with Loveworks and they use the Church to meet the needs of local residents on a Saturday. MBC also do a collection point once amonth and the generousity has been amazing.
Recently 4 houses caught alight locally to the church and 4 families became homeless. MBC open the Church to collect donations for all the families concerned, over 100 people came through the doors many saying we wondered what happened here. Working closeley with the families and local counsellors.
We’ve litter picked around the local roads and recreational grounds.
We have an amazing diverse congregation check out the flags .
When were progress through reopening we shall see the Zippies Playgroup re open together with our after school club both on Fridays.
On Sunday afternoons Reverend Nigel Copse holds a meeting for folks called “Pathways” essentially for people with learning disabilities and mental health needs.
For someone to support us leading the Worship group
For Fathers continued favour as we seek the right layout for proposed new building
For continued fellowship with all who visit MBC
For safety in travels for Bryan up and down the motorway.
For growth in the fellowship both in numbers and spirituality
For those who have lost loved ones and continue to grieve
That we may have open hearts to receive Fathers words
John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Mid Sussex network
Holland Road Baptist Church
At Holland Road Baptist Church we’re so thankful for the opportunity to be doing more in-person both on Sundays and mid-week. We’ve been able to re-start our in-person kids work on Sunday mornings as we’ve come into this new term and we’re about to launch an in-person Alpha.
We are hugely grateful, and thank God, for our amazing tech team and all they’ve learnt and developed over the past year and a half in how to livestream our services, and we’re continuing to do this as we go forward. It’s been very encouraging to meet new people that have arrived in the city who’ve watched our services from overseas as they’ve anticipated coming here in person!
We’ve continued with our Monday lunches to those who are most vulnerable in the city as well as the work of the CAP Centre, and we’ve been encouraged in recent months by some baptisms and have others planned for October. Just this last week we were able to have a baptism after one of those Monday lunches.
Please pray for those planning to get baptised in October and for others to want to make that step. Pray for our children and youth work in this new season and for Alpha as it starts that people would come to know Christ and for our ongoing work amongst some of the most vulnerable in the city that God would sustain the team and enable us to keep helping people and reaching them for Jesus.
North Downs network
Ashtead Baptist Church
Our pastor, Andrew, is just starting a Youth Ministry Sunday evening Bible study group as we have several young people who we want to help grow spiritually, with the hope of them committing their lives to Christ and being baptised. In fact, we have a baptismal service planned for 7th November.
We have eased our social distancing rules and are now able to restart Messy Church, which we hold once a month on a Sunday afternoon. It had proved to be a good outreach into our local community and we pray that it will be again.
During lockdown we maintained links with all our Church family and our morning worship services are back to the pre-lockdown numbers and we also have some newcomers.
Our prayer request for Ashtead Baptist Church is simple – it’s for us as a Church family to continue to follow Jesus Christ in unity, by adhering to God’s Word, and be salt and light in our local community.
North Kent network
Strood Gospel Mission Church
In September 2020 we welcomed our new Minister-in-Training, Hayley (Hales) Prestidge-Briston. Calling a new minister during a pandemic had its challenges, but we have been blessed with a new minister who is active and passionate, and shares our desire to engage even more effectively with our community.
This year we have started our “Grassroots” project which is a clothing (and other small household items) project where clothes are donated, then laundered and made available for anyone. People can come into the church and take what they need, for free. If they choose to make a donation, these are collected and 100% are given to local good causes. This project is proving a great success and we are seeing more and more folk entering the building who haven’t visited the church before – it is wonderful to get to know a new group of people.
We have also introduced our local community to our “Hope Hut”, which is a converted wheelie bin store which has a display inside with a perspex front and lighting, and so the display is visible 24 hours a day. We have used the “Hope Hut” to reflect the message of Christ at important dates – Christmas, Easter etc. It started last year where for a number of weeks up to Christmas we used a series of tableaux to present the nativity story. The church building is in the middle of a large housing estate and the “Hope Hut” is placed outside the front of the church where it can be seen by local residents, and people walking by and driving by. The local community has enjoyed the displays and the “Hope Hut” has provided another avenue to engage with people.
We are very excited by what God has in store for us over the next few years. Give thanks to God for his faithfulness and sustaining power over the last 18 months and please pray that many in our local community will come to know the power of Christ in their lives.
South Kent network
Brabourne Baptist Church
Greetings from Brabourne Baptist Church!
We are a Rural Church set in a beautiful village in the Garden of England, Kent!! Having returned to Church quite late we are now delighted that the majority of our Church Family have returned well and safe for which we give much thanks.
Our prayer requests are:
With our Pastor being called up North in June we are now in interregnum and in the settlement programme seeking a new minister. Our profile has recently been published and we would ask for prayer that our profile would find its way to the Pastor God has in mind for us!
We give thanks for the successful launch of our new once a week pop up cafe called The Oasis Community Cafe. Our village has no cafe and already we have seen significant interest from the community for the hospitality we are offering, praise the Lord!
With thanks to you all,
Leadership Team - Brabourne BC
West Kent network
Westerham Hill Baptist Church
What a joy it has been to gather for worship, for fellowship for hearing the scriptures read and expounded and to meet around the table of our Lord without restriction. During the lockdowns, because roughly half our congregation had no internet access, we could not use YouTube but had to resort to delivering letters and keeping in touch by phone. While this was helpful and no doubt used by God, it has been much more beneficial for the local corporate body of Christ to gather in assembly together. It has been an even greater joy to welcome new friends as regular members of the congregation and we look forward with thanksgiving to welcoming a new member into the fellowship on our Church Anniversary this coming Sunday.
We have now restarted our mid-week prayer meeting and bible study and we are looking to the Lord to lead us into finding further openings for witness and evangelism. We are planning to restart our twice a year news bulletin and magazine which, Covid permitting, will include a Christmas message and details of our Christmas services. We realise that our situation may quickly change, but we know for sure that our unchanging and faithful Triune God will never fail us, but accomplish his eternal purposes. Our trust is therefore in Him and Him alone.
Soli Deo Gloria.
West Sussex network
Broadwater Baptist Church
As with many churches across the country we are rejoicing in the return to more and more normality on Sunday mornings. There are still those who feel anxious and those who for health reasons are staying away from large groups, but nonetheless it has been a great encouragement to see, not just the increase of those returning, but seeing new faces join us on Sundays. We continue to pray that we might see many more return and also join us for the first time.
It is very sad that there are going to be huge changes in the near future as we see the withdrawal from our buildings of Children and Families services that have been provided by West Sussex County Council. It has be 10+ years of a safe haven, a supportive environment and a community space, where vulnerable families and children have been welcomed, appreciated and loved. We need a lot of prayer and reflection to decide what our next steps might be.
The next few months will also be challenging as we look to our AGM and the call for new leadership in the church. The last 18 months or so have been at times an opportunity to slow down and refresh, but it has also been a strain both physically and spiritually for some and so prayer is asked for God to encourage people to respond to His call and for us to recognise the gifting in others.
Although there will be many challenges for the church, not least in our leadership, there are always signs of God's grace. We have not been overly affected by Covid healthwise and God's provision has been miraculous during a very difficult time so we do rejoice and give thanks to the one "who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
Be assured of our prayers for each of the churches in SEBA
Grace and peace