UK: Church Rises From the Ashes
Members hold a service of healing and hope March 15
Members of Southend Seventh-day Adventist Church in England gathered outside their fire-damaged church on Sabbath morning, March 15, to hold a service of healing and hope. As it was planned to be the beginning of the Youth Week of Prayer, their Pathfinder Drum Corps led the service.
Neighbors and passers-by gathered to watch the short service. The Pathfinders were thankful to God that their drums had been saved from the fire.
As part of the Youth Week of Prayer, the Pathfinders had planned to help cook for those who are homeless who come for a meal at the church every Sunday. Instead, the Adventurers had spent some time earlier in the day to write or draw something that reflected the feelings they had about their destroyed church building.
“I feel sad, God loves,” wrote four-year-old Chanae. “A church is only a building, but worship comes from the heart,” 13-year-old Glory added. “I’m sad the church has burnt, but I’m happy no one was burnt,” said six year old Tadala. These and many more thoughts and feelings were transformed into posters and displayed on the walls of the ruined building.
The hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul,” was sung with teary eyes and choked voices as members encouraged each other to go forward. Church pastor Trevor Thomas closed with a prayer, asking God to give the congregation strength to take on the opportunities that arise from tragedy.
Later, at Chalkwell Park Methodist Church, the congregation’s temporary home, Adventists were joined in worship by local community leaders. “The tragedy that falls on you, falls on our community. We are willing to help you in however we can,” said Councillor Collins.
British Union Conference (BUC) treasurer, Victor Pilmoor, paid the congregation a surprise but much-appreciated visit. “After we suffered a fire at the BUC, I can understand how you feel,” he said. Pilmoor thanked local church and community leaders for their support, and the Chalkwell Park Methodist Church in particular for its hospitality, observing that such attitudes challenge Adventists to open their doors to other congregations in need.
Instead of the usual readings at the start of the Youth Week of Prayer, the youth decided to share the special message of Charles Wesley Knight from the 2013 South England Conference camp meeting, in which he shared poignant lessons about “going through the fire.”
“That was powerful and inspiring,” said Jealous Bhebhe after watching the 31-minute clip on YouTube.
“We are going to discover opportunities that God is presenting us through this tragedy. These will be exciting times for us,” concluded first elder, Ike Nxumalo.
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