Gospel Work And Other Activities
Sandy Jack, Eastbourne
The Gospel Hall at Teignmouth has been in existence for almost 200 years. It is quite a small assembly, with approximately fifteen attending the Breaking of Bread service each Lord’s Day. The majority of the saints are elderly. However, they are still actively maintaining the assembly principles contained in the word of God.
There is a youth club held every other Friday with mostly young boys attending, a number of which show a keen interest in the scriptures and some also attend the annual Kingfisher Christian Camp at Cheddar. A couple of the youngsters also attend other Bible Study weekends organized by the Kingfisher Christian Trust throughout the year. The youth club has also been a useful tool in encouraging other adults into the Chapel, and, on occasions, there have been more adults present than children. It is great to see everybody listening with interest to the epilogues/gospel message given at each session.
Other activities taking place at the Chapel on a weekly basis include: a devoted number of sisters and occasional visitors taking part in a sewing and crocheting group, called the ‘Sew & Sew’s’. The work undertaken during these sessions is for the eventual benefit of the mission field, and the assembly supports a number of missionaries on different continents. Once a year, on the first Saturday in May, a Missionary Conference is held and the work that has been undertaken by these ladies is on display for all the visitors to see. There is also a Coffee Morning held every Tuesday as an outreach to encourage others into the Chapel, hopefully to befriend and to share the gospel. Tuesday afternoons see a group of ladies meet for the Ladies Hour, where a visiting speaker will preach the gospel.
On Wednesday evenings a Ministry and Prayer Meeting is held. The first Wednesday of the month is dedicated to a Missionary Prayer Meeting. A visiting speaker attends the other Wednesdays in the month, and each year, for approximately six months, set topics are studied.
Recent courses have been, ‘The Basics of the Faith’ and, ‘Eschatology – Things concerning the last days’. October saw the start of a series on ‘Aspects of the Tabernacle in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ’.
Their Annual Conference was held on the first weekend in September and David West ministered on the Saturday, and again on the Sunday and Monday.
In the last twelve months the assembly has been encouraged by a small number of unsaved from time to time joining the Gospel Meetings on a Lord’s Day afternoon. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will work in these individuals and that lives will be changed forever.
A follow-up report from the saints at St. Austell reads, ‘In the Lord’s goodness we were able to open the new building to the public for a week before the actual Opening Meetings. We saw a good response from many of the neighbours and passers-by who had seen the building slowly take shape. The opening for believers was on Saturday 20th September and a full hall of saints from Devon and Cornwall, as well as elsewhere, was evidence of the sincere and godly concern of many for the work. It was a Thanksgiving and Dedication Meeting the theme of which was ‘The joy of the Lord shall be your strength’, Neh. 8. 10. Roy Hill gave some challenging and suited ministry which was much appreciated. The following Monday was used as an evening outreach meeting to all the contractors and professionals involved in the project and friends and neighbours. Even the local Chief Planning Officer was interested enough to attend. The hall was full again and very useful contacts made.
The following months have seen all the four youth and children’s works well supported and interest maintained from some local believers as well as unsaved people. One mum from the Parent and Toddlers group has been saved and a Bible Teaching meeting arranged weekly for several of the other mums that have requested further help in finding out what the Bible teaches. The Mayor of St. Austell requested a visit as she had seen and admired the building as she passed by. This resulted in both her and several of her staff staying for almost an hour to talk with us and to view the new facilities.
There is one more payment to be made for the contract to be completed financially and so we thank the Lord for His faithfulness according to promise to meet the need as it has arisen. We are indebted to the faithful generosity of so many believers who have given so sacrificially to see the project through. We anticipate some baptisms and additions to the assembly in the days to come. Praise Him’.
The 15th annual residential Yorkshire Bible Study Week was held at Sneaton Castle Centre, Whitby, with Ian Jackson responsible for conducting the meetings. Excellent Bible Readings on Romans chapter 8 and ministry on the Red Sea and Jordan crossings were helpful and challenging to the group of around 100 believers from all parts of the UK and some from Canada. The warmth of fellowship was also greatly appreciated.
The Gospel Hall in Pensford (www.pensfordgospelhall.org.uk) has taken a special interest in the children who attend the local primary school. Some years ago they contacted the charity ‘Bibles for Children’ and sponsored a colour Bible for every child in the school. As an ongoing commit-ment each year since then, the children joining the school are presented with a copy of the Bible and those leaving at the end of the year are given a Rainbow Bible. This year the Bibles were presented at the school by Philip Veater of the assembly and there was opportunity for a short message about the Bible and its message of salvation. The believers at Pensford welcome the opportunity of getting Bibles into homes in the village and pray that the work will be blessed of God. Others who might be interested in doing a similar work should contact Bibles for Children at www.biblesforchildren.org.uk or telephone 01761 471169.
The work at the Coleford assembly, near Bath, continues steadily. In October they held a week-long ‘Children’s Special’ for an hour each evening. This again saw good numbers attending. Please pray that the seed sown on these occasions will result in a harvest in the lives of all who heard the gospel. The series ended with a prize-giving and family service to which a number of the parents came.
The weekly outreach of the Carers and Toddlers continues with twenty or so mothers coming and the recent extension to the hall, which virtually doubled the size of the facilities, has helped in facilitating the expansion of this work. There is a great need for further helpers - sometimes the three sisters involved find it difficult to cope. Some of the children attending have been introduced to the Sunday school via this work.
The Ladies Meeting continues with ten to fifteen ladies from the local area coming along each week.
A Friday Club for youngsters over 10 years of age is held on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Fridays in the month; this has seen an increase in interest with a young lad making a profession and being keen to attend other meetings. One of his friends is also showing interest.
The assembly has a slot on local radio for a short message - a young brother in the meeting takes responsibility for this. Special outreach activities are also announced. Literature distribution continues regularly, with invitations to the meetings - always accompanied by a short gospel message on the reverse of the leaflet. Please pray that these messages will be read by all who receive them.
In St. Albans, Peter Mead has recently led six sessions entitled ‘Training for Preachers’. The main aims were to improve the preaching and general communication as well as to encourage good quality feedback on preaching. Topics covered included picking the right passage and studying it effectively, identifying the main idea of the text and building a bridge to your audience. There was also an opportunity for two people to preach each evening and to receive detailed feedback.
The Ayrshire Bible Exhibition was at the Gospel Hall, Winshill, for two weeks in early November. A number of schools were invited and the exhibition was moved into other schools to enable children from a range of classes to visit. Robert Gibson was assisted by believers from the assembly in taking groups of youngsters around and, although there was a surprising degree of ignorance about the Bible, it was encouraging to see so many children exposed to the word of God and taking gospel material away with them.
The exhibition was open during the evening of November 2nd and a few people from the village attended.
Peter Brandon (Bedford) was with the believers at Trent Vale, Stoke-on-Trent, in October for a few meetings. There was an encouraging attendance, including quite a number that had been contacted and transported by local believers. The gospel was faithfully and powerfully preached and there was a genuine sense of the work of the Spirit of God in the lives of a number who attended. Please pray for fruit in the salvation of souls.
A further week of gospel activity was held in Kirkby-in-Ashfield during October. Stephen Baker (Liverpool) was the evangelist, with support from the local believers. It was encouraging that a week of fine weather enabled an open-air gospel to be preached in the town centre precinct every day and over 2,500 tracts to be distributed around the doors. A number of new contacts were made and there was a pleasing response to the Senior Citizens’ Tea. However, no one from the town attended the meeting in the hall, although there was good support from neighbouring assemblies.
On the Saturday some of the young people from the local assemblies supported the outreach in the town and a further witness was borne. The opposition that had been experienced in previous days was not present on the Saturday because of the larger numbers present.
Prayer would be valued as the small company of nine believers explore other ways of getting the gospel to sinners in the town, including the use of a market stall with free literature available.
The assembly at Bethany Gospel Hall in the Hesters Way Estate, Cheltenham, held their Annual Conference Weekend in October. There was a time of thanksgiving with reflection and rejoicing in God’s faithfulness in the afternoon and the evening ministry from Ken Rudge and Ceri Reese.
The third weekend in September was the 6th annual Eastbourne Young People’s Weekend. The weekend starts with a time of fellowship on the Friday evening and then continues all day Saturday with Bible Studies in the morning and afternoon followed by a Bible Reading, which is open to all, on the Saturday evening. This year just over sixty young people studied ‘Fulfilling the will of God in your life’. Ian Jackson was the speaker and the areas covered included, ‘Being filled with the knowledge of His will’, ‘This is the will of God, even your sanctification’, and ‘He that doeth the will of God abideth forever’. The evening Bible reading was in Titus chapter 2 and dealt with ‘Adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things’.
The believers at Clifton Hall, South Norwood, were encouraged as they held meetings in October. Using a large wall chart, the meetings went through the dispensations and, although it was a gospel outreach, the local believers also found it helpful. Whilst, initially, numbers attending were not great, on the Sunday a man came in, called Anthony, who said he had been attracted by the title of the leaflet Big Questions. He said that there are some big questions in life and that is why he had come. He seemed quite interested and came again on Monday and Tuesday. A sister recently received into fellowship, after many years of backsliding, brought her eighteen-year-old son. This sister also brought a friend, Marsha. Another lady came after being contacted the day before while receiving tracts outside the hall. The two young sons of a couple in the assembly were present; the saints are not sure if either of them is saved. Another man, who has attended the ministry meeting for many years, attended every evening; again, the saints are not sure where he stands in relation to eternal life.
The believers at Inverurie have recently had great joy in commending to full-time work, Graeme Smith and his wife. Graeme is a teacher who, eighteen months ago, started to work two days per week bringing the gospel to children in primary schools in the North East of Scotland. They felt that the Lord was calling them to full-time service and, in fellowship with the assembly, commenced full-time service in August 2010. They take school assemblies, Bible Alive and similar studies, camp work and children’s meetings and have been well received by the schools in the area.
The assembly in Peterhead held a series of gospel meetings with Jack Hay and a number of townspeople heard the gospel as well as folks connected to believers. A few schools have been visited too, as part of the ongoing programme of school visits undertaken by the assembly.
This is the third year that Stephen Baker has been in Lossiemouth to visit the schools and it is encouraging each year to hear how well his visit goes down with both staff and young folks alike. Our dear sister Liz Tait works hard to organize everything with the schools. This year Stephen was mainly in the High School speaking to teenagers; a job not for the faint-hearted but he coped well, and the Head of Religious Education not only expressed his appreciation but hoped that Stephen would visit again next year. Please pray that such work will prove fruitful not only in souls being saved but also being added to the local assembly. Stephen also visited Forres, Cullen and Lossiemouth for a report and ministry in the evenings and this was very en-couraging to all who attended these meetings. The small assembly at Lossiemouth appreciate the hard work that Stephen puts in each time he comes.
The months of May through to September 2010 saw the believers from High Parks Gospel Hall and Low Waters Gospel Hall in Hamilton working together in the Town Square, preaching the gospel every second Lord’s Day. This has the full permission of South Lanarkshire Council and it has been the privilege of the saints to do this for well over ten years. Many gospel tracts have been distributed and some interesting conversations have taken place. Permission has been applied for to go out again in 2011, DV. Please remember this in prayer as they wait for a reply
The inaugural Young People’s Bible Study Day at Deri was held on the first Saturday in July. Eric Parmenter dealt with the topic, ‘Your Adversary the Devil’, over three sessions, with break-out times during the afternoon. Over one hundred attended from as far afield as Yorkshire, North Wales, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leices-tershire, Staffordshire, Buckingham-shire, Somerset, Dorset and Cornwall. On Friday evening a barbeque was held at the local Country Park where some were camping for the weekend. Children’s meetings were run in parallel to allow families to attend. Many commented on how useful the event had been. The assembly at Deri were grateful for good help from saints in the region in making the day a success.
Gospel meetings were also held at Deri during the first two weeks of November with Paul McCauley of Belfast. Previously, the assembly, with the help of young people in the region, had delivered nearly 10,000 invitations and offers of a free Bible to the surrounding villages. Unsaved were in on over forty occasions to hear a clear gospel. Four assemblies were conducted in the local Primary and Comprehensive schools, with up to 130 children and teachers present.
Republic of Ireland
The assemblies in Co. Cork have had a busy month of November in ministry and gospel. Roly Pickering had meetings in Skibbereen at the beginning of the month and then so did Phil Coulson. Leslie Craig had children’s meetings there also. Roy Hill had a series of meetings in Bandon and Michael McKillen had a week of children’s meetings. Gilbert Stewart had a series of meetings in Cork city. These meetings were all well attended and the believers were encouraged and challenged.
These three assemblies co-operate to organize the St. Patrick’s Day conference which has been held for many years in Bandon Grammar School. This year the dates are from 16-20 March and the expected speakers are Stephen Baker and Roy Hill. The main day is the 17th when there is a Bible Reading and two sessions of ministry. The other dates have meetings in the evenings. Many believers from throughout Ireland and some from the UK usually attend and a warm welcome is extended to all the Lord’s people.
Sheena is a single mother, a contact from one of the summer shows. She came over to the Ultimate Decision tent and said she was interested in the fellowship. She is a believer and has three children, her husband passed away a few years ago. At the moment her interest is for her children and she comes out on Sunday morning for the family service and Tuesday for the Kids Club. Please pray that she will desire to be in fellowship soon.
Sam and Mavis are a couple from Ghana and have started coming to the meeting over the past couple of months. They are believers who had been attending a Methodist church about thirty minutes from Newcastle West. While they have been coming along they have not yet asked to come into fellowship. Sam is an architect, but due to the down-turn in the building industry in Ireland, he lost his job, along with his work permit. At the present time he is fighting deportation orders which have now been extended until January. His lawyer has applied for long-term residence as they have been here five years. Pray that all these details will get worked out and they will be able to stay in Ireland.
Karolina, is the daughter of Adam and Ewa from the fellowship. During the summer Karolina was over for a couple of months from Poland. Before she came, her mother told Colin Burnett she wanted to get baptized, at that time he said he would talk with her when she arrived. It turned out that she was saved after her first visit to Ireland three years ago. That was the first time she had heard the gospel, and, on return to Poland, accepted the truth of the gospel for herself. She has a wonderful testimony of God’s goodness and dealings with her over these three years. Her biggest concern is for her grandparents, with whom she is living. She had wanted to come to Newcastle West but said, ‘I have too many people to reach with the gospel back in Poland’. We would love to have her in fellowship, but it is evident God is using her in Poland. When she was here she asked for prayer for a friend from university. She was back in Poland only a few weeks when Colin Burnett received an e-mail telling of her friend’s salvation. Ewa and Adam have another daughter Kamila (13) who is not saved yet; do pray for her, that she will be saved soon.
The children’s work has re-started. It has been good to see most of the kids from last year come back as well as a few new ones. As the weeks are passing the attendance of some of the new ones has dwindled, which has been the pattern over the years.
We have recently heard that whilst for many years the believers have felt rather isolated due to the geographical and political situation, all that has changed - from a maximum of ten visitors in 2009, they have had fifty visitors in the first six months of 2010. They are grateful to God, and the exercise of the saints in the UK. Surely a reminder to us of the value of having fellowship together!
In 2008, Andrew Griffiths wrote an article which appeared in the Reports section of Precious Seed International setting out the requirements of all churches (including assemblies) to register with the Charity Commission; previously churches have been exempted from such registration but have nevertheless been considered to be charitable. This registration process is now under way but for churches whose annual income is more than £5,000 but less than £100,000, registration is not likely to be necessary until 2012.
Following the Finance Act 2010, the Revenue requires all charities, includ-ing churches who claim Gift Aid, to be a registered charity. Should a church be in the process of registering with the Charity Commission, the Revenue will deem that church to be satisfying the requirements of the Finance Act 2010.
Due to the timetable originally set by the Charity Commission, many churches are not required to register until 2012, but now extra pressure is being put on them by the Revenue. The Charity Commission and Revenue advise that where a church has yet to register with the Charity Commission, because of the Charity Commission’s own timetable, and still claims relief under Gift Aid, the church would not be considered to be in default.
Should there be any confusion or doubt, Andrew recommends that the church secretary or treasurer contact the Charity Commission for clarifi-cation and guidance.