Newsletter 11th July 2021

Next week  

Martin will be speaking on ‘The return of the King ‘, looking at Matthew 24 29 and Isaiah 13:10, 34:4 (Of course, normal covid restrictions, masks, distancing etc continue for now).

Family News

Angus shares:
I woke early on Monday with the words ” Jesus friend of sinners “running round in my head. I realised it may have been linked to songs I had listened to in the past, so I got onto YouTube and came up with the following songs. The first one was written by Sue Renaldi and was sung at Spring Harvest 2000. The second is by Matt Redman and the third by Casting Crowns.

https://youtu.be/lK0_vUFgZB8           
https://youtu.be/51yvKiczq0U             
https://youtu.be/ipwEtvWL_3c

WORLD WATCH WORDSEARCH

Tuesday Fellowship on Zoom

After reading Isaiah 53, we discussed aspects from Andrew’s sermon last Sunday with regard to Jesus’s healing ministry today. A time of prayer finished the evening.

Free Speech?

“Idea”, the Evangelical Alliance magazine for July/August, quotes Lord Justice Smedley:  “Free speech includes not only the inoffensive but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative, provided it does not tend to provoke violence.”

This works both ways for Christians.  We may be upset by some of the anti-Christian things others say, but it does allow us to say what we believe, even if that is unwelcome or provocative to others.  Many countries do not allow either.  Which do you prefer?

Martin

Heartbreak and Hallelujahs as Methodists Vote to Allow Same Sex Marriage

A day of relief for some has been a day of sorrow for others in the Methodist Church, as it approves of same sex marriage. 

The Methodist Conference voted 256-45 to allow same sex weddings to take place on its premises and by its ministers, with the first weddings expected this autumn.  

Methodist minister Sam McBratney, chair of the LGBT+ Methodist group Dignity and Worth, told Premier: “Personally, I’m utterly delighted at the outcome. I think it’s fair to say, it’s taken 42 years of conversation about marriage and relationships to get to this point, and the work isn’t finished, yet but my hope is that LGBTQ people within and beyond our church will hear this as an affirmation of their dignity and their worth and the worthiness of their relationships.”

Local congregations and ministers will now have to decide whether they want to register their building and themselves as an authorised registrar. Sam McBratney said: “I know some churches have already said that they want to go ahead as quickly as possible.”

References were frequently made during the debate on Wednesday on the importance of making sure those who could not agree with same sex marriage theologically felt able to stay in the church and maintain unity with the denomination on other matters. 

McBratney said that the pro-gay marriage wing has “been careful throughout all of this process to listen to everybody’s voice in the church…we don’t agree, and we acknowledge that, and we will do our utmost to build a church where we live well with contradictory convictions. So, even passing this motion today does not in any way commit every Methodist member or minister to agree with same sex marriage.”

Speaking from the other point of view, Rev Dr David Hull, chair of Methodist Evangelicals Together, who wanted marriage to stay between a man and a woman, told Premier it was “a very sad day for the Methodist Church” and the whole Christian church. 

He explained: “It’s heart-breaking really to see where we’ve come and the way in which we’ve got here, and many of us have wept over it. In spite of these votes there are many, many Methodists who still believe that Jesus offers a unique vision for life – one that is rooted deeply in the Bible, that is better than the world has ever known, better than the world will ever know and that includes this teaching on marriage and relationships.”

When asked if evangelical believers will leave the Methodist Church, he replied: “I think we’ll have to wait and see. Some people have already changed churches, others are thinking about their future, others feel called by the Lord to stay no matter what and work to change,” but he added that the protection of the ‘conscience clause’ for many Methodists “is just unsustainable and I think that will have profound consequences for the future of the denomination.”

With the Methodist Church being the largest denomination in Britain to change its teaching on same sex marriage, there is talk about how this will impact discussions in the Church of England, which also only allows traditional marriage. 

Red Dr David Hull’s message to his evangelical peers in other denominations was: “My prayers are filled with an earnest, passionate desire that people will continue to remain faithful to the Lord and to his word, but are also filled with hope…In many ways, these are profound changes for the church, in other ways, nothing of any significance has changed at all – Jesus is still seated on the throne, He still has all authority in heaven and on earth…Nothing changes that, nothing has changed that today.” (From Premier Christian News)

What’s life like for Christians in Eritrea? 

Eritrea is number 6 on the Open Doors World Watch List

Musse (not his real name) was arrested and sent to prison for working as a pastor at an ‘unregistered church’. He spent six terrible years there – and, even before that, had been a victim of the Eritrean government’s surveillance for years. Amazingly, Musse managed to live for Jesus even in prison. 

“In prison, one of my main purposes as a Christian was to evangelise,” he says. “Of course, it is forbidden to do it openly, but we did it at night when everybody was asleep. We even had Bible verses we could study in secret. Sometimes, there were very problematic people who used to inform on us. They would tell the guards, ‘Musse is preaching, teaching and doing other Christian things’. There were people like that, yes. But many are passing through different frustrations and depression. Those people loved what we taught and shared. Some of them even tried to cover for us. We saw many conversions. The gospel can’t be chained!” 

Musse remains under close and constant surveillance, forced to report to his local police station regularly to show that he has not fled the country. Every time he goes there, he risks re-arrest. “Please continue praying for us,” asks his wife, Ruth (name changed). “We need prayers so that we live without worry and keep calm.” 

Please send any contributions that might be published by next Tuesday morning to:   Andy