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Barnsley minister called by skype 

The world is certainly getting smaller and distance is proving to be no barrier in the calling of new ministers - as Barnsley Baptist Church can testify

Skype Ken Brenda JeffersonIts new minister the Revd Ken Jefferson was called after preaching to the church by Skype from Swaziland where he was working with the charity the charity the Claypotts Trust.

Terry Foers, secretary at Barnsley Baptist Church, takes up the story: 'We are very excited to let everyone know that Barnsley Baptist has called a new minister. He is the Revd Ken Jefferson, originally from Scotland but working in Swaziland at this present time.

'We believe that the call might be unique because he ‘preached with a view’ via Skype, on Sunday 15 June. At a special fellowship meeting after the service on Sunday 22 June it was unanimously agreed that we invite Ken and his wife Brenda to the pastorate in Barnsley. This has been accepted.

'We are still in awe of the fact that we were able to link with Swaziland, 6,000 miles away and that Ken and Brenda were able to join in our service. We rejoice in this appointment and ask you to remember us as we prepare for Ken and Brenda’s arrival in the New Year.'

Terry's 15-year-old granddaughter helped him set up the link and made a video recording.

Terry tells how the calling came about: 'Shortly after our minister retired in November 2012 mutual friends told us that the Revd Ken Jefferson, a Scottish Baptist Minister and his wife Brenda, might be coming back to England from Swaziland and might be interested in coming to us.

Skype250'In the summer of 2013 it was decided that they would come back for a few weeks' sabbatical in March of this year. The planned sabbatical was intended as part of the process of seeking God's will for them for the future. It was agreed that he would help us during that time. In the end this didn’t happen due to family illness, but towards the end of March Ken was able to make a short visit on business and spoke to us one Sunday morning about his work in Swaziland.

'During the next few weeks Ken told us that it was their intention to come back to England in about six months' time. This seemed to be an opportunity not to be missed and after much discussion the church decided to ask him to speak to the fellowship.

"We were able to do this through Skype with Ken and Brenda watching the service from 6,000 miles away - and then Ken spoke to the congregation for about 20 minutes and remained watching while we sat around the Lord's table sharing communion with one another."

The couple, who have more than 10 years experience in Southern Africa, are directors of the charity the Claypotts Trust, which supports compassionate Christian ministry in Swaziland, the smallest kingdom in Africa with the highest incidence of HIV / AIDS on the continent.

Ken is currently pastor of Mbabane Chapel, a young  interdenominational and international church in the capital city of Mbabane. 

He said, 'Although we are in a third world country, the Kingdom of Swaziland has a reasonable internet connection. The head of the Post and Telecommuncations is one of my elders, so he looks after us and we have good access to Skype. We use it regularly for family and business connections, but this was a first in terms of preaching, and well done to the Baptist Barnsley Baptist Church who, with family help, set it all up.

'I had known that Barnsley Baptist Church needed some pastoral help and originally had been going to join them for a sabbatical as Terry says in his comments.

'Although I have served  as a senior pastor in some large situations, my real privilege has been in working in churches that have hard times, and through applied pastoral care, and biblical teaching, I have seen them come from yesterday towards a new tomorrow and there no challenge quite like this. I do believe that a tide can be turned - not by me of course.

'I say these things as a realist who has a streak of optimism running through his veins.  And then Barnsley, with Geoff Boycott, Dickie Bird, Michael Parkinson, Michael Vaughan..... and the oldest living resident in UK - what's not to go for!'

This story first appeared on teh website of the Yorkshire Baptist Association and is used with permission

Baptist Times, 01/10/2014
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