Saturday March 5th was the occasion of Warrington Circuit AGM, held at our Risley Church. David McDonald, the Circuit President, led our meeting and Anne Stanworth was elected as Secretary (thank you Anne for stepping up!). I believe a key decision was to implement the bi-monthly Circuit Prayer Meetings that were spoken of at the previous meeting – We must be a praying people, seeking God’s face and His will in all things. Sunday morning saw me preaching at Friars Green in the morning and at our Nelson church in the evening for their "Sunday at Six” service.
On Friday 11th March I was at the Resource Centre for much of the day, in a series of meetings culminating in our regular Admin Meeting. The next day saw the Vision Group meeting together – please be aware that this group is not designed to seek an organisation wide vision, or to impose a vision upon individual churches. Rather, its remit is to help identify trends that may affect the church in the coming years and to work with churches that want support in seeking and clarifying God’s vision for them.
On Sunday 13th I headed to a church that I’d never preached at before – Bethel at Skelmesdale – a one church circuit. I was made incredibly welcome by the small congregation and was impressed by their love. The green space upon which the church is set would be a great resource for kids work but, like many of our churches, they have a predominantly elderly congregation. I pray that Marion and friends will know God’s blessing and the Spirit’s leading in the coming days.
The Sunday evening had me sat in the congregation for a change – I visited Lowton Chapel to listen to a young North Korean who had escaped the oppression to find Christ in Prison! He told us that North Korea’s 300,000 Christians are at constant risk and, as a child, he witnessed two Christians being executed by firing squad – their crime: bringing bibles and medicine back in from China. NK is the top of Open Doors watch list for the persecuted church with some 70,000 Christians behind bars for their faith. Let’s remember to pray for those who do not have the freedoms that we take for granted.
On Palm Sunday I preached at Moorside Chapel in the company of my dear wife Sue. The folk were attentive to the message and then treated us to a lovely buffet lunch – I.M. food always lives up to expectations! The evening was spent leading Coffee Praise at Friars Green.
Good Friday morning I was back at Friars Green taking a shared service with Buckley Street Chapel. It was good, if not comfortable, to dwell under the shadow of the cross for a while. Good Friday evening was a treat indeed, as I opened the Easter Cantata at our Bethel Chapel, Wigan. Kevan Booth did a wonderful job on the organ, only matched by the accomplished choir. It was also good to see many friends from a variety of fellowships and to share in light refreshments afterwards
Let us not forget that Easter is the most important festival of the Christian faith. For without the cross, there is no forgiveness and, without the resurrection, there is no victory over death. Jesus paid the price for our sins and takes away the fear of death. We can say with the apostle Paul… "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)