In this week’s instalment of his ecumenical tithing, Fr Martin Magill writes from the Isle of Man, where he is on holiday. Fr Magill and Fr Paul Symonds visited Broadway Baptist Church, where various members of the congregation took part in a wide ranging service. Fr Magill especially appreciated how congregational members urged each other to take responsibility for managing change in their church, particularly through contributing and managing finances.
Broadway Baptist Church, Isle of Man (on holiday)
There was a warm greeting at the door of the church as Fr Paul Symonds and I joined the congregation for worship this weekend. The woman who greeted me recognised my accent as being from Northern Ireland. There was a further welcome inside the church and we were invited to sit wherever we wanted. People around us also made an effort to welcome us. The pastor leading the service asked if there were any visitors in the church and we were invited to raise our hands and were then encouraged to stay on for refreshments afterwards.
Announcements were made at the start of the service to highlight some issues from the bulletin, especially important as we were told that the church was going through a time of change.
Some words from Psalms 117/118 were then read to set the scene for the worship.
I noticed a reasonable number of teenagers and children dotted around the church, including five teenagers in the front seat who took an active part in the worship. We then had some input from a young member of the congregation going to Kenya. She spoke about her up and coming visit as an opportunity to strengthen her faith. Then the children left for BIF – the Bible is Fantastic – the name for their Sunday school.
We then had the Treasurer talk about the offering and some of the ‘profound changes’ in the church, while at the same time acknowledging the change in personal circumstances of some people within the congregation.
He also acknowledged that change was not easy: When ground shifts, things can get damaged – and we might need to find new things to do.
He suggested that the changes they were experiencing were from God – ‘taking us to a new place, so we need to trust in God to prosper and not to harm us’. In that context of change, he encouraged us to love one another and asked how we love one another? He gave examples of the one to one and small groups in church. He also suggested we give to one another – practical assistance, listening, money. He said,
‘Think about practical things you can do this week and take some time to think about what you can do’.
Another member of the congregation led us in prayer – he prayed for the staffing issues – as well as praying for the Isle and its government and the members of the church going on mission. Another pastor read a reflection to prepare us for the Eucharist which was celebrated this weekend. As the elements were being distributed a member of the congregation felt moved to read from Isaiah 53.
The youth pastor then preached a 30 minute sermon based around discerning who is from God. He suggested we look for:
1. fruit of character – the outworking of a life in God – there will not be perfection in any one person – but we need to see a direction of travel.
2. fruit of content of teaching – does what he says lead people to God?
3. fruit of relationships – how they love – the fruit of the spirit is love – we should be looking out for love of others.
4. fruit of influence – what difference is it making? are people growing into a greater love for one another? – what sort of people are being produced in this ministry? – can we see a direction of travel?
5 fruit of depth of relationship in Jesus Christ – the secret life of the disciple – Have people been in the presence of The Lord? – someone who spends time in the presence of God – the best way to spot what is false is to be steeped in what is true.
We then went for coffee and very good traybakes.
As I reflect on the worship one day later, I keep going back to the input from the treasurer who spoke about giving and the need for financial support. It has been my experience in the different parishes where I have served, that people expect the parish priest to speak about money and appeal for it.