Gracemount Community Church (Andy Prime)
The effect of Covid19 and the lockdown on Gracemount has been similar to other schemes. Mental health issues have rocketed. Suicides or attempts have increased. Domestic abuse cases have spiked. Food banks and drug dealers have been busier than ever. Gracemount Community Church hasn’t been immune to these struggles and battles amongst our members. In a ministry that relies on daily contact and a tight community for both evangelism and discipleship at times, as elders, we’ve felt deeply frustrated and hamstrung by the virus and the restrictions.
However, in the Lord’s good providence, just after lockdown, we started preaching through the book of Acts. It’s been a timely reminder to us that the Word of God is not bound, and that the Spirit turns obstacles into stepping stones. In the last month, we have noticed a distinct openness to the gospel in many of our friends and neighbors in the community. At the moment there are more people than we’ve ever had reading the Scriptures with members of our church. We’ve had professions of faith even in this last week. And this Sunday, Lord-willing, we will be having two baptisms of men in our community that we’ve been witnessing for years.
We continue to be without a building in our community, and the building we rent on a Sunday is unlikely to allow us to meet in it any time soon. So in all likelihood, we will be meeting online and in small house-churches for the next few months.
Tonight, we had a members meeting as a church, part of which will involve voting to affirm the appointment of an Assistant Pastor. We’re grateful to God for the application of a young man who did a placement with us last summer and are excited not only for his ministry with us as a church over the next 2-3 years but also about training him up for church planting in the future.
We continue to be grateful to God for the partnership and prayers of HeartCry, and assure you of our prayers for you and your ministry too.
Hope Community Church, Barlanark (Pete Stewart & Pete Bell)
It’s been an intense season during the lockdown with a lot of young kids in our houses making the inability to get out and about all the more draining. What we really needed was to be with the Lord’s people and yet for 5 months, we couldn’t meet face to face. But we are glad that God held us while still ministering to us during this time.
One upside of the situation was it moved the emphasis of our ministry to personal and pastoral, and we feel it did pull our church closer together through the many challenges. We continued to train the pastors-in-training and we hope to be able to call them as elders in the next two months. We also made a series of videos called #myHOPEstory which went down really well online and gave us some new contacts that we have given Bibles to (www.myhopestory.co.uk). Our sermon series over the summer was called ‘Aye but…’ and dealt with a number of common objections we hear including sermons on different religions, sexuality, and spirituality. At the end of the summer we did a special CoVID VBS and this turned out a great week where we got to build on existing relationships and make new ones, and the gospel was shared clearly with them all through the videos and daily face to face conversations at bag pickups in the morning and outdoor games in the afternoon (if the weather allowed!).
We have now been gathering again (albeit somewhat differently) for the last 2 weeks, and last Sunday, we baptized 3 people while bringing them, and 3 others into church membership. That is proof, in our minds at least, that the Lord is still at work and building his church despite the many pressures and struggles we feel on the ground.
Please pray for: A renewed zeal for evangelism as restrictions ease and we are let back out face to face. We are starting to preach through Acts this Sunday and are praying the Lord uses this to re-energize us to go out with the only news the community really needs.
A meeting place to be available in the scheme as soon as possible. The building we have been given the use of is ideal in many ways, but it is not in our community, and so it is not suitable as a long term base. Pray that something, anything, comes up soon.
We are looking to The Lord to direct our paths as we look to plant a church in the previously mentioned building in Baillieston. We are already seeing local contacts there wanting to come and hear more, so we are praying that the Lord will send a planter for this to happen. As always we’re thankful for your support and your partnership in the gospel.
Hope Church Bingham (Gerald White).
Over the last 4 to 5 months, we at Hope Church Bingham have seen discouragements and encouragements as we have navigated life as a Church Plant during a pandemic. Firstly, we needed to move our ministries to zoom or put them on hold temporarily. The Hope Church Bingham Bible study, men’s and women’s studies continued via zoom and were well attended. These continue via zoom for the time being and in the next month or two, will move to houses.
Each morning I lead a devotional for the Church Plant through the books of Romans and Philippians. We also had a time of prayer for each future member, which was a fruitful time that I believe the Lord used to knit our hearts together and get to know one another better.
Our pre-plant meetings continued via zoom during lockdown and were attended by the 20 future members and their 13 children. I explained the vision, why we exist, what the ministries will look like, what we believe (Statement of Faith), and what we will teach (Confession of Faith). We have in the last two weeks started meeting physically again, this has been a rich blessing.
Our launch date in April got pushed to July, and then the July date got pushed to October. Lord willing, we will see a local Church covenant together then, something the team is all excited for.
Outreach within the community has not been affected, the Church Plant have not taken their foot off the gas, and remain intentional in making contacts and meeting with unbelievers. We have had many encouraging testimonies of Gospel conversations. Two ladies are now professing faith and wanting to be baptized once we launch. Our women’s worker is working closely with them in their discipleship.
The men in the community are harder to reach, however contacts have been maintained as we meet in gardens and homes again. This week, we started up a men’s football team and have 16 men in the community signed up. We are praying this will lead to Gospel conversations and fruit.
Personally I have found it to be a very busy season, however, God has been good and the time working from home has been a blessing. I see my family throughout the day and pause to sit on the floor with my three children to get involved in the games, or take my wife aside and enjoy a chat with her over lunch.
General Comments on 20schemes (Mez)
As you can imagine things have lost their momentum somewhat since the pandemic and the restrictions that followed. However, every scheme plant and/or church has been able to continue with some form of evangelism. We at Niddrie have handed out nearly 8 thousand food packages to those trapped in their homes or unable to get out due to ill health, age, etc. We have seen a spike in people interested in studying the word and we have been able to meet together as a fellowship, albeit severely restricted, for the past couple of weeks. We have a waiting list and are doing two-morning services such is the interest for people wanting to come and hear the gospel.
We are currently operating a church plant or a church in 8 communities across 4 cities, and we have requests forms from 6 other dying congregations for us to come and plant or revitalize there. Pray for us that the Lord would raise up workers. We are continuing to hear of one or two conversions and baptisms every month from our churches. God is good.
We appreciate you all and the financial and prayerful support you give us.