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Welcome to the Essex County Council Baptist Church 

Minister Graeme Ross explains how the words "Baptist Church" were added to the bus stop in front of his church's building


Look at this picture and read the sign on the bus shelter for yourself. You could assume that Essex county council are into church planting, but there is really something else going on.

It all began several months ago when I was chatting to our local county Councillor, Dave Harris. At the time, the bus stop outside of the church said Cherry Tree Garage on it (because Cherry Tree Garage used to be near the church before it closed a few years ago). I asked Dave how we could go about requesting that the bus stop name could be changed to ‘Baptist Church’ because we are very much open.

Dave said he would ask on our behalf and within a very short period of time he had arranged it. Surprisingly though, what turned up was a bus shelter rather than just a new name on the stop.

I love the way that the sign reads ‘Essex County Council Baptist Church’ and it makes me smile whenever I see it. That a bus shelter says ‘Baptist Church on it’ is a wonderful reminder that the church is the people, rather than any building or shelter.

Orchard2Most of all, I love the way that this shelter blesses people, especially when it is raining! At Orchard Baptist Church, we want to be a blessing to the community that we are a part of. The shelter feels like a good representation of who we are, even though it is not something that we have put there or paid for.

Someone suggested that I should complain because the shelter makes it harder for people to see the church if they are driving past. I can see what they mean but then I can see (because I happen to be there a lot) how the shelter blesses people.

  • Is it more important that people get a good view of our building or that people are blessed?
  • Which is your church community more obsessed with, how you look or how you bless people?

The bus shelter also reminds me of what Jesus said about the Kingdom of God.

“It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.” (Luke 13.19)

The shelter appeared, not because of our hard work or effort and in the same way, God is growing his kingdom as more people recognise him as their Lord and Saviour.

The shelter offers sanctuary to people and so does the Kingdom of God. If we are citizens of the Kingdom, we need to consider how we are offering blessing, sanctuary and support to the people around us.

So, is our church community more obsessed with how we look or how we bless people? 

The Revd Graeme Ross is minister of Orchard Baptist Church in Essex. This story originally appeared on his blog Honest About My Faith, and is republished with permission

Baptist Times, 18/04/2016
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