The regular rhythm of many aspects of our lives has been significantly interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, some things do continue – albeit in a slightly or even very different form.  As I sit at my desk writing this, I am preparing for our annual webnet Home Mission Grants Awards meeting.  This week several ministry colleagues in our network and I will gather, not in person as usual but by the increasingly familiar means of Zoom technology.  We will as ever pray for wisdom, discernment and grace as we consider the various applications for a Baptists Together Home Mission Grant. 

As I look at these applications I am grateful to God for all he has been doing in and through our churches and in the communities of which those Christian groups are a part.  Even during this time of lockdown and social restriction, God is continuing to reveal his love and grace through ordinary disciples of Jesus like you and me.  He is indeed the God of transformation. 

Eleven years ago we had barely heard of Wichelstowe.  Today there is there, a Christian community who have helped shape the culture of East Wichel and who continue to help to shape it and its immediate neighbour, Middle Wichel.   Your giving to Home Mission has made this possible.  Thank you! 

The Stowe Lockdown Virtual Assembly led by Owen Green

As I consider these Home Mission Grant applications this year, we celebrate that Chew Magna Baptist Church, won’t require a grant this year.  But your giving in previous years has enabled them to become a more outward-facing church than they were before.  So, thank you! 

Acorn Toddlers at Chew Magna BC (pre-lockdown)

You’ve also helped in the re-imagining of Knowle West Baptist Church, now known as The Cairn.  In normal circumstances, Phil and Alice Lawrence meet and engage with a significant number and a variety of people.  Today they are seeking to reach out to those people, their neighbours, via the internet and through social media.  Once again, your giving to Home Mission has made this possible.  Thank you!

Guitar Club at The Cairn (pre-lockdown)

We celebrate what God is doing in and through our churches in the west of England, and also all he is doing through chaplaincies, such as the Bristol University Free Church Chaplaincy.  Your giving enables Dr Mike Peat to work there as Free Church Chaplain, alongside other chaplains – offering in more normal times a place of welcome and friendship.  And also providing a place where those who want to explore spirituality, can do so in an environment of help, encouragement and support.  Again, it’s your giving that makes this possible.

“Surplus Food Café” at the Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre (pre-lockdown)

As I consider these various grant applications and more importantly the reminder of all God is doing, I remember the words of the apostle Paul to disciples of Jesus living and serving God in Philippi:

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’

May God grant you his grace, his presence, his peace and his strength during this unfamiliar time.