Secretary's Report to AGM November 2017

Secretary’s report November 9th 2017

Since the last church AGM the church has been shaken and saddened by first, the death of Pastor Angela in September 2016 and then David Cotton’s death, so unexpectedly, following a stroke in April this year. We had just, only the previous day, enjoyed a warm service of thanks to him for his Pastorship and we had all felt that his health had seemed much improved. A very moving memorial service was held for David and both his and Angela’s ashes were interred in the church memorial garden and later a plaque to their memory will be affixed to the church wall. We have also been saddened by the passing of Phil, husband of Sis Brett, then Joan Dodge and Shelia Dutton. We miss them but know that they are safe in God’s care. As a church, we have prayed for God’s guidance, his plan for us, here in Battlesbridge. It seemed that we were not led to seek a new Pastor, but to use our own resources within our congregation. We have been blessed in that David Edwards, backed by the experience and wisdom of Revd. Peter Brewer, our Pastor Emeritus, in hand to support him, has very ably led at least one service a month. We have also been very fortunate that Mr Wilf Tyler, his previous church having closing, has been available and the willing to commit himself to leading one service per month. For the other two or three Sundays in the month there was the question of who would be able to share these services. At that time, I had been very distressed at the news being broadcast, of the dire situation in Syria and Iraq, the thousands of fleeing refugees, the emergence of terrorist groups, of the servers persecution of Christians in many of the world’s countries. I felt like crying out to God, “What on earth are you doing about it? How can you be working your purpose out A’s year succeeds to year?” God very forcefully urged me to look around at all the wonderful organisations bringing aid, comfort, support, carrying his purpose forward. Oxfam, Christian Aid, The Red Cross, Embrace the Middle East, the Bible Society, Traidcraft, London City Mission, all the caring services, the list is endless. Whenever there is goodness, there is our God carrying his purpose out, continuously. So, through out the year, I have tried to bring our attention to some of these ways in which our God is working his purpose out and this has indeed seemed his plan forward for us. We have heard from the Mission to Seamen, The Bible Society, The London City Mission, The Macmillian Nurses, WaterAid, The Women’s Day of Prayer, Street Pastoring. By supporting any of God’s myriad of organisations of caring, bringing practical aid, working for justice, spreading his word, then we are playing our part in furthering God’s purpose.
During this year, we have also been able to share with our fellow Christians in the area with services led by local lay preachers, and from the Congregational Federation and also within our own church community. Some joined us in our Lent studies from a course published by the Embrace the Middle East. We have maintained our relationship with our Woodham friends and have been pleased to share some of their events in the schoolroom Cafe and enjoyed their company at many of our events. We have been pleased to liaise with our two parish churches in the Women’s World Day of Prayer, Remembrance Services and the All Saints Open Days and have welcomed their support for our events and joined in the Ride and Stride together.
We have maintained our four collections per year for the homeless and thank all who have generously contributed, and thank Pam for delivering these gifts.. We have been able to continue our sponsorship under the Crestin Trust, for the Romanian widow, Rarinca and our school girl Inshirah under the care of Embrace the Middle East. As a church, we now give to the Bible Society’s Bible - a - month scheme and to London City Mission. We have been able to make donations to the Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen and Macmillan Nurses, and can count on support for The Shoe Box Appeal.
We were delighted to welcome so many young people to share the Harvest service with us. We do thank Pam and her helpers for all the work that they do with the young people, and thank Paul for keeping the Art Group meeting. We thank Margaret for taking over the production of the PowerPoint to aid our services, and Peter for producing the Newsletter and watching over the website. Thank you to Mary-anne for her work on the new directory and taking over the Way-side Pulpit. Thank her too, for relieving Peter of some of the many ways in which he has worked in supporting us through the years. We also owe a big thank you to Tony for his overseeing of the church finances and managing concerns of maintenance of the church buildings and grounds. We thank Christine and Margaret for the keeping the garden blooming.
We were very pleased to host the wedding of Sharon and Tom Robertson in early May - an exuberant and happy occasion. Then there was the wonderful family day for Mary-anne and Ian when young James was Christened and everyone celebrated.
Another lovely celebration was the Anniversary for the 174th year as Battlesbridge Free Church. Our speaker Jean-Louis Kassis from London City Mission and it was good to have he and his wife to share our day. The special suppers for Pentecost and Harvest and the Anniversary tea would just not happen without wonderful support, proving such enjoyable meals to share. Thank you everyone. We also had a very enjoyable get together for the Church Garden Party, this year needing to be indoors, but many thanks to the efforts of Christine, Margaret and Sue, again providing another Battlesbridge feast which all shared in providing. We enjoy the after church time of refreshments and socialising, on many occasions enhanced by Brian’s gift of a very appreciated cake of his own making. We were pleased by the attendance at this year’s Band concert by Rayleigh Brass. We nearly matched the number of bandsmen! A very enjoyable evening as were the Quiz Nights and many thanks are due to Tony for organising and David for quizmastering. Revd. Paul Davis, past President of the Congregational Federation, led us in Shoe-Box weekend and we hope to have a speaker from Christian Witness to Israel on 26th November.. It is hoped that our December Sundays will follow a traditional pattern with carols, Bible readings, hopefully, a drama by two of our talented members.. All this culminating in the celebration of Christ’s birth at the Midnight service in December 24th at 11.30pm. We also hope to share in a wonderful Christmas dinner but more of the later.
I am sure we all thank our God in supporting and encouraging us during this fairly momentous year.


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