Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Vacancy - Entrepreneurial Minister / Missionary in Wolverhampton

We're looking for a special individual, couple or team to come and work with us in seeing this wonderful city impacted by the kingdom of God.

If what follows appeals to you, then feel free to get in touch for a more full profile, and ways of finding out more.

An Opportunity in Wolverhampton

Tabernacle Baptist Church is a thriving, ethnically diverse, welcoming church in Wolverhampton. For the last two years we have been supporting, and then merging into our structures, a church in the city centre called the Church at Broad Street.

The Church at Broad Street had once been a thriving evangelical church, but has, over many years, dwindled and struggled. The purpose of the recent merger is to release new ways of mission and ministry into that part of the city.

The location is a tough one. The neighbours are fast-food restaurants, sex shops, a homeless hostel, a nightclub and a rock venue.

Close by is the University, with a guesstimated 5,000 students living in halls and homes within a mile radius.

So, what’s the opportunity? In partnership with Urban Expression, and underpinned by the values of Humility, Relationship and Creativity, we're looking for a person or people with an entrepreneurial approach to ministry, regardless of age.

The potential is vast and exciting.

Come and start church from scratch; come and develop a 7 day a week mission centre in the heart of the city; come and develop a venue that will become the focus for creativity in this terrifically generous but needy part of the West Midlands.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to be engaged in missional activity in a humble place, with people of vision and faith, then please pray about this wonderful city!

We're able to provide housing and cover ministry expenses and mileage.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

50 years of dreaming

Wednesday 28th August 2013 marks the 50th Anniversary of Revd. Dr Martin Luther King Jnr's famous "I have a dream" speech.

I wonder in what ways we need contemporary Dr Kings to rise up and speak on behalf of those who remain marginalised, neglected, denied their human rights, and left languishing in the misery of unkept promises.

As a mark or respect, and in honour of possibly the greatest Baptist preacher ever, I reproduce his most famous speech below.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But 100 years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.

And so we've come here today to dramatize an appalling condition. In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a cheque. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of colour are concerned. Instead of honouring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad cheque which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we've come to cash this cheque - a cheque that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.

This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.

There will be neither rest nor tranquillity in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: in the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvellous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realise that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights: "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied and we will not be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed - we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning: "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California.

But not only that.

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

British Baptist leadership changes

There are some exciting posts being advertised at the moment, so I share them here to inform you, but also to ask you to pray with Baptists in Britain as many of our structures and those leading them go through a season of great change.

The new General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Revd. Lynn Green, will be inducted into the post at a service at Sutton Coldfield Baptist Church on the afternoon of Sunday 22 September, marking the most visible shift in our leadership.

Alongside this, several of our regional associations are currently advertising, or have recently been searching for new Regional Ministers. Yorkshire Baptist Association and Eastern Baptist Association have recently closed applications.

Northern Baptist Association are looking for a new Regional Minister with a special responsibility for enabling mission in that area. More details here

North West Baptist Association are looking for a Regional Minister to help guide them through the next three years of organisational transition. More details here

And finally, for now, BMS World Mission is seeking a new Director for its International Mission Centre in Birmingham, the main training centre for Baptist missionaries here. More details here

Lots of change, but clearly lots of opportunity.

My prayer is that the right women and men sense the smile of heaven as they apply, and that this season of shaking and transformation might also be a season of renewal and refreshing.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

A prayer for those struggling to sleep

There's been a lot of discussion of abuse and threatening behaviour on social media in the last week or so. On of those caught up in the crossfire, for daring to voice her concern at the degrading representations of women in "Lads mags" and on page 3 of The Sun is the theologian / songwriter / journalist Vicky Beeching.

Tonight she asks for prayers as she seeks to find peace and sleep following days of abusive comments and threats. So, I reproduce this as my prayer for her, and also other women, speaking out, shouting back, taking social media back from the voices and comments of an evil minority.

 From "Celtic Daily Prayer"
a prayer from Anne Wadey

The sky is bright with uncountable stars.
I know they are uncountable:
I have tried this impossible task
these sleepless nights.

Where are You, Lord,
as the fog of fatigue
numbs me of all
but the desperate desire to sleep?

Comfort me, Lord, with Your presence
as the ever-watchful mother
soothes the fretful, feverish child.

Grant me the gift of sleep;
and be the guardian of my dreams,
that I may know You through them also.

Or if I must watch with You through
the long, hard night,
share with me the burden of Your heart
that my sleepless hours
be spent in purposeful prayer.

And if you bless me once more with the 
gift of the morning,
may I rise,
grateful to greet You,
ready to walk with You
into the tasks of the day.