BS3 Churches Together
26 March 2012
We are looking to God for greater things yet…….
Four years ago I sat in the South Bristol Christian Centre with four others in what we called a JAB (Joint Action Bedminster - our local association of churches) committee. JAB had been somewhat in the doldrums for a considerable period and together we were ruminating on the particular low ebb that had hit us. I mean, five members at a meeting that was supposed to represent fifteen churches seemed very poor indeed.
However, as we chatted about responsibilities within JAB, Bernard Stevenson, the Salvation Army officer present, suddenly said “What if Les (Potter - me) becomes chairman and I become secretary and we try to move on from there”. Not only was there an immediate agreement but there seemed to be a sudden “lift” in the atmosphere. It was like a “Holy Spirit moment”.
And so we did move on. The next “forum gathering” (as we called it to replace “committee”) saw around twenty of us – with at least one rep. from each church present – sharing and fellowshipping in a way that JAB had hardly known in many years. And this has continued in all of our bi-monthly gatherings. Denominationalism seems simply to not matter any more. Most importantly there was a new commitment to pray together and to pray for each other. We planned joint activities and services – especially at times like Easter – and we invited community members to come and talk to us about local projects and how the churches could get involved. Most significantly, we joined the Greater Bedminster Neighbourhood Partnership. Indeed last June a gathering in the Salvation Army hall was addressed by Simon Bale of the churches’ industry and social responsibility unit on the theme of “Christians and community partnership involvement”. Now the JAB rep. is able to report on church activities in the Partnership board meetings and JAB is increasingly engaging with the community in new and exciting ways. For example socially beneficial projects, like the Salvation Army’s “Monday breakfasts for the homeless”, are now part and parcel of the vision. The South Bristol Christian Centre has allowed local residents “in the street” to make a wonderful flower garden on part of its ground.
Since Malcolm Jones has taken on the chairmanship – a year ago - further advances have been made. A weekly online bulletin keeps everyone in touch and we trust to have a constitution in place shortly. A name change is another possibility as JAB is fine but doesn’t spell out that we are a Christian group. There are now fifteen churches and four Christian agencies in membership. We are looking to God for greater things yet…….