South Ashford Baptist Church
Despite difficult times, South Ashford is looking to the future with faith and expectation
Minister in Training, Andrew Mumford is to become the church's full-time pastor in September 2018
Continuing its community engagement through The Willow Centre on adjacent land
A church grateful for Home Mission funding enabling them to have a pastor, and the prayers of the wider Baptist family
South Ashford Baptist Church was started as a plant in 1959 from Ashford Baptist Church, in the town centre, by a Baptist deaconess, Sister Mabel Sands. The church has been independent since the late 1960s, and called its first full time minister in 1973. For much of its history the church has been a ‘Home Mission’ church, partly because the southern part of Ashford has significant social problems. The chapel holds around 120 but today the church has a congregation average of around 45, drawn from South Ashford and the surrounding estates. 2019 will be the church’s 60th anniversary and Steve Chalke (who was the church’s youth worker in the early 1970s) is coming to preach.
The church had a central role some 15 years ago in the creation of 'The Willow Centre’, a Sure Start centre, nursery and community cafe, on land behind the church. This remains the church's primary means of community engagement and contact with the non-churched. Community relations have also been fostered in the last year by many fresh hiring arrangements for community groups.
Things to thank God for:
The starting of a parent and toddler group in January, called ‘Friday Friends’. This has proved popular and obviously meets a need.
Attendance and membership continues to gradually increase. Two families with children and another young couple have joined the church in recent months. A second Sunday group for ‘youth’/teenagers has been started, and the young people have redecorated and rejuvenated the old youth room.
The redecorating and smartening up of the outside of the building has now largely been completed.
For Jerry Newson as he mediates with Beaver Community Trust for us, and for a satisfactory resolution to boundary, insurance, pathway and car park issues in this regard.
For more able-bodied people, particularly in 20s and 30s to join us, and young families.
The financial situation of the church is improving, but is still a concern, if the church is to have a long- term future.
The church recently resolved that it needs a full-time pastor from September 2018, when my contract as a MIT ends. The church has now agreed to take me on as their full-time Minister from that date.
This summer we also have the Holiday Bible Club coming up (21-23 August) on the theme of Noah’s Ark, and would value prayers that this would be a success once again (last year saw a record attendance) and we would be able to present the gospel to the children of the estate.
Although it has been a difficult time in recent months, with the sudden unexpected death of two folk, one of whom was our pianist, there is a good atmosphere in the church at present and a looking to the future with faith and expectation. There have been so many answered prayers and good things happening. It is felt that the obstacles that do exist for the growth and renewal of the fellowship can be overcome, with the help of God.
Our greatest practical needs are for someone to join the church who can play the piano/organ, and someone also who is able to help with the cutting of the grass and the church garden.
Myself and all the church family are very grateful for the way in which Home Mission has enabled the church to continue here, because without Home Mission, the church would be unable, currently, to have a pastor. We are thankful for this practical support, without which the church here would face an uncertain future. We are also thankful for the prayer support and fellowship of the wider Baptist family, expressed through SEBA and the local Network in South Kent.
The long-term vision is still for the spiritual and numerical renewal of the fellowship here, and we have had a series of special monthly prayer meetings about this. It is essential if we are to reach this deprived community with the gospel, because currently we are limited with what we can do.
South Ashford Baptist Church
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