'You are welcome' - South Ashford Baptist Church celebrates 60 years
The community focused church is packed for its thanksgiving and celebration service
This year South Ashford Baptist Church in Kent celebrates 60 years since it was founded - and on Saturday (14 September) a thanksgiving and celebration service was held.
The church was packed for this event, which a lot of the local community attended. The church and hall has always been used over the years for community events and this was reflected in the attendance and in the service, with representatives from Beaver Community Trust which runs the adjacent Willow Centre, that the church had a hand in establishing in 2004.
The Absolute Gospel Company choir, a Christian choir from Tonbridge, sang a selection of songs from its new musical The King is Coming, which it will be performing at Rochester Cathedral in October. The current pastor the Revd Andrew Mumford led the service with a former pastor, the Revd Jerry Newson, taking a reading.
Two presentations were made to the church on the day. A banner was presented by the Revd Lorna Sylvester, of Ashford Baptist Church, which had 'planted' SABC in 1959. The banner was specially made by a creative member of ABC to celebrate the ongoing special relationship between the two churches.
Councillor Lyn Suddards presented a cheque to the church from Ashford Borough Council as a contribution for benches to be placed in the church garden. These will be for local people to rest and reflect as the pass by the church, and are an acknowledgement of thanks from the local council for the community work done by the church over six decades.
During the course of the service the new church windows were dedicated, this being the end part of a project which has lasted around 20 years. Grants were received from All Churches Trust and Godinton Charitable Trust to enable this work to be carried out, as well as monies given in memory of former church members who had recently passed away.
The keynote address was given by the Revd Steve Chalke MBE, a Baptist minister who founded the Oasis group of charities, which are involved in a number of community initiatives in the UK, particularly local academies, as well as a number of churches. Steve originated at SABC as the church's youth worker in the early 1970s, under its second pastor the Revd Steve Flashman. It was SABC who commended him for ministerial training. Steve spoke about the inclusive values required to build a church in today's diverse culture, and the importance of interpreting the Bible compassionately and of not being judgemental.
The day was rounded off with a buffet meal and specially made anniversary cake.
Picture | The Revd Rob Sylvester, The Revd Lorna Sylvester (Ashford Baptist Church) The Revd Jerry Newson (South Eastern Baptist Association Regional Minister and former pastor 1998-2008) The Revd Andrew Mumford (current pastor) Cllr Lyn Suddards, and The Revd Steve Chalke MBE, with the anniversary cake.