South Ashford Baptist Church
Giving thanks to God for his faithfulness as they celebrate the church's 60th anniversary in 2019
Increasing engagement with the local community has led to further opportunities for conversations about spiritual matters
Grateful for the help of Home Mission in the past, the church is applying for a Home Mission grant in 2019
South Ashford Baptist Church will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2019. Originally the work was a plant from Ashford Baptist Church onto a new housing estate, led by a Baptist deaconess. The area around the church is one of the most deprived areas in the borough of Ashford, with levels of unemployment, illness, disability and other social problems higher than the national average. Because of this, the church has always, in its history, had challenges from time to time, but God has regularly stepped in through different ways to maintain and prosper the witness here. The story is very much one of the faithfulness of God, the dedication and prayerfulness of the local people in the church, and the help both of the ‘mother’ church and the Association and wider Union in complementary ways.
Things to thank God for:
one conversion, one wedding, two baptisms and four dedications in the last year - the latter the first in the church for some ten years.
a young couple who have recently come into membership and the man has agreed to take on the grass cutting and gardening
the financial situation of the church has stabilised and all work on the Manse and church are up to date and paid for, and carpets curtains and chairs have received a much needed clean.
for the Lord to send us someone who can play the piano/organ and/or more musicians
for continued numerical (and spiritual!) growth, especially further folk in their 20s and 30s
for the completion of the final pieces of paperwork in connection with the boundary, insurance, pathway and car park issues with our neighbours at the Willow Centre (recently agreement has been reached, which is answered prayer!).
I go full time in September this year (having now finished at College), please pray for the church and myself as we both adjust to the differences this means.
On a practical level it is sometimes small things that make difference: if any SEBA churches are having a ‘clear out’ we would appreciate you thinking of us, especially in the following areas: any sound system or audio-visual equipment (including leads), banners, posters and communion table linen.
There is a lovely atmosphere of love and unity in the Church at present as we look forward to the future. Despite the passing of another much-loved member and former deacon, the fellowship is very encouraged with what God is doing among us. Opportunities to speak to local mums who attend the Parent and Toddler Group, particularly about the gospel, have increased, resulting in occasional attendance at services. Community engagement has also been increased through increased hiring, most significantly Slimming World groups, three of which use the chapel and premises on a weekly basis. This increases our profile in the community and has led to further opportunities for conversations about spiritual matters.
We continue with our mission-related activities of Holiday Bible Club (August) Light Party (October) and this year also a Craft Fair (October), for all of which we would value prayer. We plan to revive our close relationship with the Willow Centre too, because we believe it is a crucial opportunity right on our doorstep.
We are applying for a Home Mission Grant in 2019 which we hope will be successful. The church family and I are very grateful for the help of Home Mission in the past. We are also very grateful for the support of the Regional Ministers and the Association, made possible of course by Home Mission giving. Without this help it would be difficult to see, humanly speaking, how the church here could have a long-term future. It is encouraging to know that we are not alone but have this prayer and practical support and fellowship with the wider Baptist world.
As we move forward, the long- term plan, under God, is still for the spiritual and numerical renewal of the congregation, and for it to increasingly be a beacon of hope in this area. Currently though we have limitations as to how much we can achieve, and so we pray that some will hear the call to ‘come over and help us’ (Acts 16:9).
The Revd Andrew Mumford - Pastor
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