Pastor’s Thoughts – October 2012

Dear friends,

Yes! Finally here we are! We’re coming home to our new centre. After so many years of waiting and praying the day has arrived at last. Praise the Lord!

Welcome to the Baptist Church Centre!

Baptist Church Centre

This is going to be a very strange experience for many of us. The church hasn’t had just one site for about 80 years, and those of us that have arrived in the past 12 years have only known the church operating from the school. I expect that having our own building is going to take some getting used to. I’ve been in and out pretty constantly for the last week and so it is beginning to feel quite familiar to me, and the more time I spend here the more I like it and the more I see its potential. I hope you will like it and be happy to spend time here.

I could have said that I hope you will love it, and whilst in one sense I hope you do, in another I hope you don’t! This fantastic building is not given to us so that we can worship it but so that we can use it to worship. Perhaps it’s the obvious thing to say but we are not defined by our buildings and this place must never give us our sense of identity. This building is not the church; it is a place to be the church.

That’s one reason why we’ve been quite strict about the signs that we are putting up.This is the Baptist Church Centre, home of Bishop’s Stortford Baptist Church.If it burns down tomorrow we will still be Bishop’s Stortford Baptist Church. This has been a long hard lesson that we have learned during our years in the school. It is a lesson that we must never forget.

It is surely right at this point to stop and pay tribute to those who have made this possible. About three weeks ago, when things were going at an incredibly slow pace and we were suffering some setbacks in getting things ready, I turned to my daily reading and found that it was Psalm 127: Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labour in vain. I had heard those words before during these past 12 1/2 years! It is, though, an important perspective on everything that we have been given. This facility is far greater than anything that we imagined 13 years ago when the decision was made to leave Newtown Road. We owe everything to God for guiding us, leading us and sustaining us over those years.

In the early days it was David Arr that led us in the search for the place that we might build. Though that was frustrating it began to help us shape the vision for what God wanted us to do. In recent years it has been a team involving Richard Jones, Peter Solway and Barry Tallintire that has brought us here and worked so hard to turn this vision into reality. We want to say thank you to you all and thank God for each of you. These men have been assisted by many others as we have prayed, and pieced together vision. I think it was actually Steph, out walking our dog, who first looked at this site and saw its potential. Many, many of you have spent hours thinking about what you want this building to be useful for and to achieve. You’ve pored over plans that you didn’t really understand and helped shape what we have. Thank you to you all.

We give thanks to the Lord for all of this. This is now the end of Phase One. Come in and look around and you will start to think of things that we need for Phase Two. We have no café yet; some of the fittings that we would like have not yet been purchased; the grounds are not fully planted. Phase Two begins now and it will be a gradual process, building on what we have.

The challenge now for us all is this: Make use of what we have been given for the purpose for which we were given it, to bring glory to God and His love to the world.

Yours in Christ
John