'We are excited to see what is in store for our church'
With a pension deficit, elderly fellowship and church split, Torrington Baptist Church was facing an uncertain future. However, the remaining congregation felt God hadn't finished with them - and there are now signs of hope. Here are two reflections from members of its leadership team
'The few kept faith that God hadn’t finished with us'
We have not had a minister at Torrington Baptist for many years, although we have been able to call on local retired pastors and lay preachers for nearly every week and this continues to be so. Following a distressing church split our numbers were reduced and we were unable to financially support a minister anymore. We were hoping that perhaps we could find a part-time minister but then came the bombshell news of the pension deficit.
A lot of time and effort was put into finding a way to pay the deficit. Thankfully we were able to, eventually, be in a scheme where we pay monthly.
Around the time of the ‘pension’ problem, people had left, stopped attending, or passed away and so we really were few in number. However, the few kept faith that God hadn’t finished with us. Then one person suggested that if we wanted God’s blessing we needed to meet to pray specifically for the church and what God’s plan was for it. We started meeting for prayer on a Tuesday evening. As things began to improve and people gradually came to church, we started to have two house groups which alternated with the prayer meeting and friendships grew.
As we continued to seek the Lord he added to our numbers. Then came the Covid lockdown, we wondered who would return. We were not able to do church online as we are not set up for it and several people do not have computers. We kept in contact with a weekly newsletter produced by one of our members.
We opened our doors as soon as we were allowed and to our delight most of the fellowship returned plus some folk from local churches which had not yet opened. Our secretary kept us up to speed with Baptist Union advice on Covid rules and precautions that needed to be put in place. We wondered what would happen when our visitors from other churches returned to their own services when able, but we began to see new people coming along.
God has truly answered prayer. We are growing in numbers with several couples and two young families coming along. We now have three house groups and would like to have a fourth daytime one for those who don’t like to come out in the evenings. We have had a baby girl dedicated last year and a little boy recently in May. We are hoping there will soon be baptisms as well.
All praise to His mighty name. We continue to look to the Lord to lead us forward and we give him glory. As one of our new members said, ‘there is a sense of expectancy in the fellowship’.
We are excited to see what is in store for our church.
‘Those who are now forming the nucleus of the fellowship are younger’
It’s not us – it’s God! As a declining fellowship we have struggled with funding. We can, and do pay our share of the pension deficit, but we cannot afford to pay for a minister, not even part-time. We were continuing to survive with an increasingly older congregation relying on local lay people and folk within the fellowship for weekly teaching and leading of services.
Then came Covid!
As with all fellowships, ours had to close its doors. With few in the fellowship having computers and internet expertise we maintained contact with one another through a weekly news-sheet.
Once we re-opened people returned, including some from other local churches which had stayed closed. As time has gone by we have re-started a prayer meeting and Home Groups. (Although these currently meet at the church) We have through God’s Spirit seen new people come into the fellowship, including young families.
Those who are now forming the nucleus of the fellowship are younger and eager to be involved in all aspects of church life. We have been able to re-start our mother and toddler group, have had the joy of having two dedications and believe we can look forward to baptisms in the near future.
Throughout the years our prayer at the fellowship has been that God would encourage us to fulfil the plan He has for us, and He has!
This is part of a short collection of stories from churches in north Devon, which have shared how God is working through them post lockdown.
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