Session Report for IPC Half Yearly Meeting 23rd November 2016
We’ve continued to meet twice monthly over the past 6 months. We meet once in the evening, normally the first Monday of the month, to discuss church life and make decisions regarding how the church is governed and then we also meet for an hour in the morning monthly to pray for the work of the church and each other. Stuart Cashman still attends all our meetings and gives a report to the Session. Rob Ilderton, Stuart and Graham Weeks meet separately to discuss the work of Immanuel Church Brentford. It’s also been a joy to have Simon Arscott, who is the Church Planter at All Nations Ilford, join us for our evening meetings where we hear a report of his work on the ‘East side’. We begin our evening meetings by reading a chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and are currently up to chapter 30
Here are some of the things that have been happening in these last 6 months:
Time of morning service – In September we moved the time of the service from 10.30 to 11.00am, allowing us to start Sunday Schools at 10.00am. So far this has been encouraging, with more people coming along to the Adult Sunday School. Chris Cradock handed over the overall leadership to Chris Roberts, and we’re grateful to both men. In our Sunday services we have continued to preach through the book of Isaiah, where we’ve seen the rebellion of idolatrous people but a God who will judge but is also full of mercy. We have just finished on Sunday evenings a series in Colossians and Philemon – these books open up to us what it means to be ‘in Christ’ and particularly the impact that that has practically in our lives as a fellowship, as families and as individuals.
Ealing Lunchtime Talks have been encouraging with a growth in numbers. If you are available to come along we would love to have more join with us to hear the Word of God in the heart of Ealing. We are going through the Epistle to the Romans and have reached chapter 8.
During the summertime it was encouraging to be able to go to Swansea with the Young People and then be able to host Holiday Bible Club at the end of August. We are thankful for those who gave up their time to serve in these ventures.
Interns – Donald Smith and Natalie Granger — Natalie and Donald joined us as Interns in September. Both are working with us voluntarily and, alongside IPC, they are attending courses at Cornhill. Natalie is doing the course part-time whilst Donald goes to the new London Ministry Training Course on a Wednesday. Both are involved in lots of areas in church life. Do make an effort to get to know them and encourage them.
New Members – We have had a lot of new people come to the church over the summer, and in October we welcomed 8 new members to our congregation.
House groups finished up studying John’s letters in September and then we had an introduction to 1 Peter with Robert Strivens from London Seminary. Andrew Rae co-ordinates the House Groups, and we have been encouraged by a new group starting up near the church.
Being International – Paul and Chuck visited Jose da Segovia in Spain in July and, as a result of seeing his work, we have increased our support for Jose in his ministry in Madrid. Over the past months we’ve had more international speakers than I can remember. We had a joint service at the end of August with the Nigerian congregation from Acton with Kefas Amos preaching. Sid Garland came and shared of his work of getting good theological literature into the hands of theological students in Africa. Saieed spent a weekend ministering amongst us, taking Bible studies for Persians, and speaking at our Adult Sunday School. Gray Sutanto from Indonesia, who is studying in Edinburgh and is interested in joining our denomination, came and preached for us. Adam Wilson and Gethin Jones, both students at Westminster Seminary, preached for us over the summer. Jonny Gibson of our denomination and Jonny Dyer from All Souls, Langham Place, have both preached for us this autumn.
We have been delighted to have a number of baptisms in this period – Mina was baptised on profession of faith in July, and Sophie and Leopold Konstantin were baptised in October.
Training – Chris Roberts continues his studies at London Seminary, and is enrolling on a Masters Course with Westminster Seminary that is run through London. The Elders are meeting with Chris with a view to him potentially coming back to us as the Associate Minister. We’ve been encouraged by David Jones and Edit Banyasz doing the Counselling Course at Oak Hill College, and were delighted to be able to make a gift towards Edit’s training.
This term has seen the launch of Common Ground which is at Café Zee on Friday Nights aimed at university students and the 20s and 30s. There’s also a 20s and 30s’ weekend away planned for 20th-22nd January at Latimer Place in Chesham.
As you will know as Elders and Deacons we have put forward Robert Cromie and Edit Banyasz for the diaconate and are grateful for all the work that the deacons do.
Our Elders helping other IPC congregations – Chris Cradock is still serving Moderator in our Presbytery which involves a large amount of work both in the meetings and outside. Paul Levy has stepped back from being a Loan Elder in Liss, and Paul Meiners was appointed by Presbytery to take his place.
Training New Elders
Over this past 6 months we have been praying and thinking about adding to the Eldership. Graham is now in his 70s and Paul Meiners and Chuck Phillips will at some point in the not too distant future head back to the US. Andrew has had a very demanding period in his work, Stuart is now full-time with Immanuel Brentford, and Chris has taken on the added responsibility of being Presbytery Moderator. This means we do need to be thinking about the future — our desire is to be strong enough as a church so we can plant again; and in a Presbyterian church the Eldership is key to the health of the congregation.
Before the summer we approached a number of men in the congregation to pray and think about being trained for Eldership, and we are really thrilled that Adrian Little, Pete Lofthouse, John Silva and Jono Willcox are willing to go forward with the training. We hope to hold this during the time of Sunday School so to not add to meetings. We will also give some teaching to the congregation on what an Elder is and what we should be looking for. At the end of the period of training there is no guarantee that these 4 men would be put forward for the Eldership and there’s also an opportunity to opt out. If we were to proceed, there would be a vote of the congregation. We would then recommend these men to Presbytery, they would fill in some exam papers, and a delegation from the Candidates and Credentials Committee would meet with them. If the Presbytery Committee were in agreement with them becoming Elders we would then have an Ordination Service. Our prayer is that this process could be completed by the autumn of 2017.
Please do be praying for these men and for their families. To be an Elder in Christ’s church is a high calling and yet it is one that is a great privilege. Pray for the training and that as a congregation we would continue to be united as we seek to strengthen the Eldership.
Looking Ahead – We look forward to Dick Keyes, who was the Pastor here in the 1970s, being with us on the evening of Sunday December 4th. Our Christmas Carol Services will be on Sunday 11th December at Downhurst Residential Home, Tuesday 13th December for Ealing Lunchtime Talks (1.00pm at Ealing Town Hall), and then Sunday 18th December at 6.00pm at Drayton Manor High School. Iain D Campbell, who is an outstanding preacher from Scotland, will be preaching for us on Sunday 15th January.
We have invited Dariusz Brycko, who is a Reformed Minister from Warsaw Poland, to come and spend a weekend with us as a church helping us to explore how we might reach out more effectively into the Polish community. He will hopefully be with us on Sunday February 26th.