A Lasting Legacy
Hadleigh Baptist Church spent a year commemorating its 200th anniversary during 2015. Since the New Year they’ve held vision evenings to think about the future after Pastor Greg Frost was challenged by the way the church was planted back in 1815. Here’s their story.
If you’re the kind of person who struggles to know how best to celebrate a special occasion then you will know how I felt as the 200th anniversary of Hadleigh Baptist Church began to draw closer and closer.
Thankfully I have many imaginative people around me who are gifted in coming up with inspirational ideas. About a year before this landmark occasion, a plan began to formulate between us.
We wanted to honour and celebrate the past, to rejoice in the present, but we also wanted to be inspired for the future. We felt that a full year of events – of interest to all ages of our community and the church family – would be better than one day of celebration.
So a Community Fun Day, a Jonathan Veira concert, a Quiz Evening, a Winter Wonderland Day and the 200th Anniversary Day itself, came to be the main events.
A spirit of generosity
We all wanted to leave a lasting legacy from our 200th year and a fitting project was placed before the congregation. The idea was inspired by remembering how we ourselves came into existence through the vision and generosity of a Baptist Church in the nearby village of Wattisham. They sent twelve of their members to begin a new work in Hadleigh on 13 December 1815.
The elders and deacons wanted to encourage a spirit of generosity within the congregation in 2015 as the Baptist Church in Wattisham had shown in 1815, so it was decided to give a thank offering to the Lord.
For some years the church has had a close connection to the ministry of GTSSS (Gospel for Tribals Social Services Society) in India. Alongside others in the church I have had the opportunity to visit this mission on two occasions and see what they are involved in first hand.
One of their many ministries is called a ‘Village Church Project’ that gives a local Indian village congregation the provision of a church building, two rooms to house a pastor and his family and a water well for the community. All this for only £11,000!
It was thrilling to witness the generosity of our congregation as £10,040 was given at the thank offering taken up at our two Anniversary Services. Further gifts were added and within a few days this brought the total thank offering to £11,160. We were overjoyed to hear in mid-January that the building work had already begun in the remote village of Singa Samudram in Andhra Pradesh State and it should be finished in four months!
Our intention to look forward with vision and faith to the next 200 years inspired us to invite David Campbell (Regional Leader of Elim Church) to be our guest speaker on the Anniversary Day. He encouraged us to focus upon Christ’s commission and compassion in the morning and to seek the presence of God in the evening. These themes were then prayed over as elders and deacons and were shaped for our own local church context at two vision nights at the start of 2016.
The celebrations left me with a number of challenges to ponder. Would I be willing to send twelve of our members to form a new church? What legacy do I want to leave as a Pastor? What legacy do we desire to leave as a local church here in Hadleigh?
Our 200th year has given us an opportunity to reflect on the past, rejoice in the present and look forward in faith to times of refreshing from our ever gracious God for “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain” (Psalm 127:1). I give thanks that Jesus still builds and keeps His Church!