A firm foundation for our youth

‘With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world!’ (Ellen G. White, Education, p. 271.)

This well-known quote is often used as the basis for Adventist youth ministry, a work the Irish Mission takes seriously. As valued members of the church family, they are nurtured through various support networks: Sabbath School, local church youth groups, Adventurers and Pathfinders, the Irish Mission the teen and young adult ‘Outposts’ project and the Irish Mission Adventist Students’ Association (IMASA).

Working together, church leaders, parents and members are faithfully working to equip the next generation to carry the torch of service and mission in Ireland. But, more than that, they are working to help youth find Jesus and accept Him as their personal Saviour and Friend.

An easy task in today’s world?

Not at all, as it is clear to us that the devil truly walks around as a lion, seeking to devour our youth, to quote 1 Peter 5:8. They face challenges that older members of the church family have never had to deal with: not least, from ever rising social pressures in our increasingly digital world. As one young person recently put it: in the process of ‘questioning my self-worth as a child, I turned away from the church and into a world of drugs and alcohol, trying to find a place to fit in. . . .’

Sadly, this is not an uncommon story among our youth. When confronted with what society offers – instant gratification, sexual excitement without commitment, and the ‘it’s all about me’ survival of the fittest culture – they have lost sight of their purpose and sense of self-value in Christ. Our aim is to engage with them, listen to them, encourage them, and, in partnership with the Holy Spirit, lead them back to Christ! Our ministry is long-term, ensuring that we can help prevent the next generation of youth from taking the same painful path. Our ministry is modelled as follows, regarded as a duty – to establish our youth in Christ:

‘Let the youth remember that here they are to build characters for eternity, and that God requires them to do their best. Let those older in experience watch over the younger ones; and when they see them tempted, take them aside, and pray with them and for them’ (Ellen G. White, Messages to Young People, p. 18).

It’s a tall order, for sure – but, in contrast to a despairing spirit, we are energised about this challenge, particularly with the recent appointment of Pastor Jefferson Melki as the new youth sponsor. The son of a pastor, Jefferson comes with a ‘prodigal son’ experience, and aims to ‘support Irish Mission youth in becoming disciples of Christ; and, as they do so, to reach their full potential’. Excited about his new role, he is clear about the missional impact of such a group of youth. ‘Imagine if Irish Mission youth believed in, became like, and ultimately took on and lived the same mindset of Christ. If this became a reality, I don’t think that their impact on Ireland and Northern Ireland can be underestimated!’

Pastor Jeff begins his ministry by interacting with youth leaders and the youth themselves, aiming to engage active and non-active members in friendly dialogue to identify their needs.

These needs will be addressed over the next two years, focusing on the following three aspects:

In-reach: To teach and equip the active youth, leadership roles will be offered to the youth in various activities, and in the process they will be nurtured into the future leaders of the Irish Mission.

Outreach: To help and guide our struggling youth back to church, activities such as sports, mental health discussions, addiction recovery sessions, apologetics talks, outposts and IMASA will be aimed at helping these youth realise that church is so much more than just a regular Saturday service. The main goal is to help them find Christ as their ultimate hope, purpose, and strength.

Media Ministry: To keep the youth further engaged in their spiritual growth, they will be directed to sources of online books, sermons, Christian motivational videos, and music designed for them.

It’s exciting, isn’t it?! Whether you are an Irish Mission member or you belong to a church in the wider British Union Conference, we ask you to pray for us as together we help establish a new start for youth work in the Irish Mission. In your own church, why not become involved by learning the names of your church’s youth and using them, often? For more information on how you can get involved in this youth work, email Pastor Jeff – jeff@adventist.ie Read more

Vincentians face an added challenge

On 9 April, the St Vincent La Soufrière volcano erupted, covering most of the once-idyllic island with a thick grey blanket of ash (up to 42 centimetres in some places). In addition, the neighbouring islands of St Lucia and Barbados have also been affected, with ‘homes, crops and water supplies . . . also destroyed or contaminated’, according to a 27 April Sky News report.2

With the hurricane season just a few weeks away, Vincentians face an added challenge as they try to recover from the ash.

According to ADRA, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency visited St Vincent on 23 April to evaluate the emergency, which highlighted the need for food, water, and shelter, still crucial necessities for thousands of evacuees.

The report highlights (updated on 27 April):

– 85 public shelters house 4,396 occupants.

– 6,790 persons are registered in private shelters.

– 1,618 families are in private homes.

– 1,333 persons in private homes are registered to feed at shelters.

– 156 persons are sheltered in hotels.

A total of 13,303 persons have been displaced by the eruptions.

Cash donations are preferred due to logistical challenges. On the plus side, the local water production capability is growing, and work is ongoing to restore a pipe-borne supply to the public. Bottled water distribution continues across the SVG.

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency International (ADRA) will be providing 1,280 meals per day for one month – for 12 shelters.

ADRA-UK has raised more than £14,000 to date, and has immediately made £12,000 available towards providing food to the shelters.

To assist with ADRA’s emergency response on St Vincent, please donate now!

https://app.donorfy.com/donate/C4311R6V76/StVincent

 

Post-quarantine Church

 

 

The Post-Quarantine Church: Six Urgent Challenges and Opportunities That Will Determine the Future of Your Congregation

By Thom S. Rainer, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2020.

 

Book Review by

Joanne Cortes – associate pastor at Beltsville Seventh-day Adventist Church, Beltsville, Maryland, United States.

COVID-19 has impacted practically every church around the world. In this book, The Post-Quarantine Church, Thom Rainer looks at what our church may look like after the pandemic. He offers six urgent challenges and opportunities that may help a church to determine the kind of future it will have.

The first challenge Rainer suggests is that the church should gather differently and better, find innovative ways to use the church facility, and be ready to think of creative ways to reach people currently not being reached (11).

The second challenge involves seizing the opportunity to reach the digital world by designing the most effective social media plan for the church right now. Beware of jeopardizing the church by being digitally busy while having no effectiveness. It is better to simplify the content being shared (25).

The third challenge is to reconnect with the neighborhood. Be a church in and for the community by having a clear purpose and mission and by being a positive influence on those in the vicinity (39).

The fourth challenge is to pray. Take prayer to a powerful, new level by praying regularly and asking members, as well as the community, to join in this challenge. Prayer can happen in an empty church building, via technology, basically anywhere (55).

The fifth challenge reminds churches that after the quarantine, they can practically begin with a “new slate” and serve their communities in ways never done before. This would be a good time to partner with new organizations and groups (69).

The sixth challenge involves encouraging churches to consider making lasting changes that will make a difference. Think strategically and reevaluate ministry objectives, committee budgets, job descriptions, and other aspects of the organization to position the church for success after the quarantine (85).

The final chapter in this book states that challenges faced by the church can also be opportunities. The author lists nine key changes for the post-quarantine church that also reinforce the six challenges provided earlier:

  1. Simplicity will be vitally important.
  2. Only outwardly focused churches will survive.
  3. Worship-service gatherings will be smaller.
  4. “Multi” will multiply.
  5. Staff and leadership realignment will focus more on digital proficiency.
  6. “Stragglers” will become a subject of outreach and focus.
  7. Digital worship services will be newly proposed.
  8. Ministry training will change dramatically.
  9. Pastors will leave their lead positions for second-chair roles.

Rainer concludes by articulating that “the post-quarantine era may prove to be one of the most challenging seasons for churches and their leaders. The opportunity to lead change is likely greater than at any other point in our lifetimes” (110). The pandemic has changed the world and the way we are used to doing church, yet there is a great opportunity in that we are practically given a blank slate—an opportunity to rethink, re-create, and revamp church.

I recommend this easy-to-read book to those who may be unsure about whether the church is being truly effective in the mission during these uncertain times, those who need help in rethinking what church should look like after quarantine, those whose church may be struggling because of COVID-19, and those who are ready to begin to think outside of what is normal. As we enter this new “normal,” we cannot forget that Jesus promises that no matter what we go through, even if it be a pandemic, He is with us always, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:1920).

The call of God

The Call of God

Written by Pastor Marcel Ghioalda, Senior Pastor, Newbold Church

The past twelve months have forced us as a Church, a community, and possibly even you as a prospective ministry or mission student, to wrestle with questions about the form and function of what God calls us to be. From my perspective, these questions are placed in five key areas: our commission, community and congregation, and the roles of clergy and church.

Perhaps you identify with some of these questions! Perhaps you seek to discern the voice of God calling you for a life in ministry. Perhaps you search for the heart of God, pulling you towards Himself! Perhaps you wonder if He is the One calling you to join Him in shaping a future with Him. You are not alone in your thinking and questioning. The future is wide open at this point and your hunger for answers may be an indication of His call for your life!

Have you found yourself asking any of the following questions:

Commission (“Why are we here?”):

  • Is preaching, teaching and baptising enough, or is it too utilitarian?
  • Does caring for people form part of our commission, or is this the remit of other organisations? Where does it rank in our order of priorities?
  • Should we care, even when it does not lead to preaching, teaching and baptism?
  • Should we keep preaching and teaching even when no one is listening
  • What should we be preaching and teaching about?

Community and the Congregation (“Who is my brother?”):

  • With regular and physical meetings severely impacted by lockdowns and restrictions, who do we have an immediate responsibility for?
    • Our Adventist members?
    • Our local community?
    • Those with immediate needs?
    • Who decides which needs are more important?
  • Is there even a list of needs priorities?
    • Spiritual needs!
    • Physical needs!
    • Emotional needs!
  • What happens when the priorities of the church and community differ?
  • Should our artificial boundaries still play a role?
    • Membership in the Adventist Church vs. non-members of the Adventist Church
    • Christians vs. other religions vs. no religion
    • Membership in the local church vs. a church in a different country

Clergy (“What shall I say?” / “Who will go and serve?”):

  • Is it about primarily preaching, teaching and baptising?
  • Is it about coordinating church services?
  • Is it about coordinating people to serve others?
  • Is it about rolling up our sleeves and care for people at the expense of the above?
  • Is it about praying for the people?
  • All of the above? More?
  • Who should do all this: the clergy, church members, the community?

Church in the present day (“How will we do church?”):

  • Is church, the gathering of people in a building on a Sabbath morning for traditional forms of study or worship?
  • Is church, the online Sabbath School class, small group I belong to in order to pray, worship with, discuss various issues, read a book and talk about it?
  • Is it the family worship environment I engage in daily?
  • How about the neighbourhood where we connect with people as we meet needs?

Over 52 Sabbaths of experimentation, soul-searching, much joy but also frustration, and many of us are left with more questions than answers. There has never been a time of greater uncertainty in the recent past that challenges all the above aspects at the same time and with equal intensity. The old is broken and rebuilding it may not be what we are called to do. Through His Spirit, God is revealing Himself in a powerful way, redirecting us towards Himself and reasserting His role in leading a people. Now, more than ever God is seeking a group of leaders to follow His calling into a new tomorrow with Him.

If you are serious about engaging with some of these questions while studying Theology at Newbold College of Higher Education, you will be intentional on at least three levels: spiritual (prayer and reflection), experiential (participation in a local and national church, as well as the local community) and intellectual (reading and learning). Ministerial training at the College will equip you with the essential knowledge to help redefine and reshape the commission, community and congregation, the roles of clergy and church, as well as discerning the voice of God as you lead.

If you feel God pulling you towards Himself in wrestling with these questions and if you’re seeking the opportunity to join God in the work He is doing in the church and the community, then you’ve come to the right place.

Welcome to Newbold.

Church is

 

 

Church is . . .

 

A retirement reflection – or is it a doodle?

 

Having served South England Conference members east, west and in-between, Pastor Jonathan Barrett has recently retired from pastoral ministry. I have always appreciated Jonathan’s careful use of words, thoughtful and intentional – the hallmark of an excellent preacher! Reflecting on church life, he put those thoughts on paper and did an A-Z of words in church life, called ‘Church Is . . .’ Any he’s left out? Read more

Rhythms of grace

Rhythms of Grace

‘He stopped taking my calls . . .’

From the father’s perspective, the son asks the impossible. For The Firm to work like a smooth-running engine, this is how things are. ‘But,’ the son persists, ‘I need to do this for my family.’ Faced with two conflicting needs – royal convention and his son’s need – the father seized up with indecision. Wearied by unresolved conflict, when informed, ‘There’s a call for you Sir,’ it is one he does not wish to take. Read more

Enhancing health

Enhancing health

Ovarian cancer

by Sharon Platt-McDonald

The seven National Health Service periods of health focus for March include:

  • 1-31 – Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
  • 1-7 – Eating Disorders Awareness Week
  • 10 – No Smoking Day
  • 11 – World Kidney Day
  • 11 – 18 – Nutrition and Hydration Week
  • 19 – World Sleep Day
  • 20 – World Oral Health Day

In this issue we focus on ovarian cancer, as well as some of the activities you can engage in to raise awareness and funds to combat it this month. Read more

The cross and the printed page

The cross –

and the printed page!

Last Sabbath we were eager to step out into the brilliant sunshine without being bundled up in the usual winter woollies. It was a perfect spring day; there was so much loveliness awaiting us as we walked up the hill towards Great Gonerby. Spring flowers seemed to have appeared overnight . . . celandines, dandelions, daisies, crocuses and daffodils had joined the numerous swathes of snowdrops that have been delighting us for several weeks. We heard the raucous calls of the rooks as they fluttered about in the tops of the elm trees, no doubt chatting to the mothers-to-be in the nests. We also heard the sweeter songs of the songbirds, who, it seemed, were singing for the sheer joy of being alive. Read more

Messenger Extra – February

Cold outside but warm inside
Welcome to Messenger Extra

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the February edition of Messenger Extra.

  • ‘I want the judges to know who I’m singing to’
  • Man, gorillas and God
  • ‘COVID-19 and the wilding of the Church’ – what sort of leaders do we need?
  • The Sunday Times op-ed and the Adventist caricature
  • Messenger subscription

‘I want the judges to know who I’m singing to’


Photo: BBC Songs of Praise.

Huddersfield Fartown member Tara Goddard reached the final of the first ever BBC Songs of Praise Gospel Singer of the Year competition, broadcast last Sunday evening (7 February) from Gorton Monastery in Manchester. Singing for the semi-final the hymn ‘Pass Me Not’ by Fanny Crosby, and for the final ‘His Eye Is On the Sparrow’, by Civilla D. Martin, for Tara this was not a performance, but a ministry. ‘I want to show the judges that I’m not just a singer, but I know who I’m singing to . . . for God.’

Hosted by Mark De-Lisser, with acclaimed musicians Alexandra Burke, Heather Small, and David Grant serving as judges, Grant emphatically affirmed Tara’s purpose.

‘If you crack a note, if a note’s flat, if a note’s sharp, that’s not what this is about. This is about what you give, about the passion, the dynamic, the commitment, and it’s about the integrity of the performance. You had all of that – and you have got to let go of your concerns that perhaps it’s not flawless – because what you give is enough.’

Heather Small commented that through Tara’s singing she could see ‘the joy, the commitment and the love for God’. Likewise, Alexandra Burke clearly saw Tara’s belief in God and added, ‘As you show a great use of vocal range, this is the time to let go.’

Tara’s husband Pedro, who knows more than anyone the purpose of Tara’s ministry, agreed with the judges: ‘I know that she has a blessing she can give to other people.’
To see Tara singing in the final, go to:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000s5mc/songs-of-praise-gospel-singer-of-the-year-final

Rhythms of Grace – man, gorillas and God

Following the story of Malcolm X in the January edition of Messenger of how he experienced a moment of grace when he came into contact with a faith community we love and know well – David Wright shares another Rhythms of Grace story.

On the grey and gloomy afternoon of 30 December 1985, forty people stood quietly beside an open grave, singing the words of a hymn written by an ex-slave trader. They were there to honour the life of the zoologist Dian Fossey, who had dedicated her life to preserving the lives of mountain gorillas, and who had been killed two days earlier. The hymn was ‘Amazing Grace’, by John Newton; the location was the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda, Central Africa; and the person conducting the funeral service was Elton Wallace, an Adventist minister from the nearby mission station at Gisenyi, and a friend of Dian Fossey.

In his biography, Woman in the Mists, author Farley Mowat describes Pastor Wallace delivering the following short but powerful eulogy: ‘Last week [that is, Christmas] the world did honour to a long-ago event that changed its history – the coming of the Lord to earth. We see at our feet here a parable of that magnificent condescension – Dian Fossey, born to a home of comfort and privilege that she left by her own choice to live among a race faced with extinction. . . . She will lie now among those with whom she lived, and among whom she died. And if you think that the distance Christ had to come to take the likeness of man is not so great as that from man to gorilla, then you don’t know men . . . or gorillas . . . or God.’

‘COVID-19 and the wilding of the Church’ – what sort of leaders do we need?


Dr Steve Aisthorpe

‘Re-imagining’ was a key word in Newbold’s first Diversity Lecture of 2021 on Tuesday 9 February. After environmental disasters, God works in nature, giving it an infinite capacity to bounce back. Similarly, God can work through leaders who model and encourage a re-imagining of the church in the wake of the pandemic.

The speaker at the lecture was Dr Steve Aisthorpe – Mission Development Worker for the Church of Scotland – a specialist in leadership, a committed environmentalist, and an experienced mountaineer! His lecture was an extended exploration of the metaphor of ‘wilding’ as it might apply in these days when the pandemic has affected the Church like an earthquake or another natural shock.

At the heart of Dr Aisthorpe’s vision is a Jesus-centred church where all relationships are coloured by adventurous discipleship. It’s a different picture perhaps from the highly organised, top-down institutions many think of as ‘the church’.

During the 40-minute Q&A session which followed the lecture, questions flooded in from church leaders and followers. ‘Where to start?’ ‘How to relate to congregations split between traditional and progressive members?’ ‘How to reconcile vision-casting and the uncertainty of listening?’ ‘How to cope with unimaginative and non-listening leaders?’ ‘Is there a future for church buildings and cathedrals and the institutional church?’ ‘Is there a danger of doctrinal impurity and schism?’ There wasn’t time to answer all of them, but clearly Dr Aisthorpe had stirred up a lot of re-imagining – especially in the mind of one questioner, who asked, ‘Is the Holy Spirit maybe more like a wild goose than a dove?’ The full recording of the lecture can be seen at:

https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=177589237490477&ref=watch_permalink

Helen Pearson
Diversity Centre Coordinator

The Sunday Times Op-Ed and the Adventist caricature


Rod Liddle once served as the Editor of the Today programme, broadcast each morning on BBC Radio 4. Working for the BBC required having the gift of impartiality. However, since writing an Op-Ed column for The Sunday Times he’s felt less restrained. In his 7 February column he is highly critical of the Church of England and its leadership – particularly of its role during this pandemic – and quick to note their huge decline in worshippers over the past five years.

In contrast, he notes the rise of ‘other churches’ and worries that the C of E will follow their lead in order to gain more followers. Well known for his hyperbole, to take him too seriously is a mistake, but it was his caricature of others and who they include that caused me to do a double take:

‘Other churches, meanwhile, are thriving – largely the you-will-burn-in-hell, writhe-on-the-floor gibbering chapters: the Pentecostalists, the new churches, the Baptists, the Seventh-day Adventists.’

‘That’s who we are – really?’ I couldn’t but give a wry smile to that; and, to join the hyperbole, I almost choked on my cornflakes! And perhaps we shouldn’t take too seriously an opinionated but un-informed columnist who loosely stereotypes others to make a point (some call it lazy journalism). On the other hand, for the sake of the Gospel, the serious mis-caricature is not so much about the Adventists, but about the God we serve. We know it is not a ‘you-will-burn-in-hell’ message – quite the opposite – but if Liddle’s perception, however untrue, is shared by our friends and neighbours, we’ve got some serious work to do to change that perception.

We could make a start with a letter to the editor: letters@sunday-times.co.uk.

Messenger subscription


The February edition

We have been very encouraged by the positive responses of those who received by direct mail the January edition of Messenger, and we’re busy processing all of the updated addresses, requests for electronic versions, and requests for copies for other members.

Our aim is to send one printed copy of the Messenger to the household of every member who wishes to receive it. We realise that the first mailing did not reach all such households, and we would be grateful for your assistance in getting our information up to date. If you know of any members who want a printed copy of the Messenger, but haven’t so far received one, please let us know.

Also, please note that if you want to keep receiving the Messenger by post you will need to let us know, either by returning the card that is included with the magazine, or by sending a brief email to:

msubs@stanboroughpress.org.uk

This is a major new initiative to give help and support to all of our members in these strange and challenging times. We really appreciate your feedback and your assistance as we work with the church clerks to make it a success.

Peter Oppong-Mensah and Pastor John Surridge
Distribution Coordinators

Messenger Extra is the online newsletter, published digitally two weeks prior to members receiving the full print or digital edition of the magazine. To comment about anything you read here or in Messenger, please send your message to: editor@stanboroughpress.org.uk.

Best wishes,

David Neal
Editor