As we draw near to the point of us passing on the leadership of this church to Paul we do so with a profound sense of thanksgiving and gratitude. Firstly, to our God for His faithfulness, provision and willingness to turn our many limitations into the outworking of His great strength. He is the cornerstone. He builds the church. It is hard to put into words our amazement at all He has done. Second, for the Trustees of the church, past and present, who have served so faithfully and so often said ‘yes’ flying in the face of reason and logic, willing to exercise faith and adventure with Jesus, the great apostle and pioneer of our faith.
Then, there is the extraordinarily gifted team of staff and volunteer team leaders who have enabled us to ‘punch far beyond our weight’ through their so often sacrificial commitment to the work God has called them to here and been such fun to journey with. We have such appreciation for the host of you who serve on teams to make the work of leaders life-giving and sustainable and those of you who give in so many other ways financially, prayerfully which keep the Kingdom of God advancing. There is such a grace of generosity and desire for excellence in all that you are and do. We are so thankful for each one of you making this a family in which there is real affection and love for one another. ‘See how they love one another’ is perhaps our greatest prophetic witness to our culture, neighbours and unsaved loved ones. Finally, I, personally, would want to add a particular word of thanksgiving for the Father’s wisdom in partnering me with Pippa – a source of great strength, faithfulness and love.
Rosie (Lovegrove-Smith) found a pastoral letter from Martin Down (my predecessor) at the time of the founding of the Fountain of Life. In it he writes of his hopes of birthing a church ‘faithful to the gospel, more relevant to our culture, and which will therefore be more attractive to those outside the church’. Our growth would suggest that these hopes have at least been partially realised – but there is so much more to be done and to be seen.
One of the key words for us as a church in our history is ‘obedience’. It’s a word which simply means listening to God and putting into action that which we hear. Freddy recently made the observation that ‘obedience will draw you away from the norms’. It’s the test of obedience to step into the unknown, with changed landmarks, to take a step into a future that is undefined or beyond your capability to shape. We have together consistently been a people who have taken those steps. The future here should look different. There should be changes. The Kingdom is always advancing and Jesus is always calling us deeper into His life and purposes, always building His church for what it needs to be at a particular time and in a particular place.
I was reminded recently of a word that was spoken out at New Wine a couple of years ago: ‘seeds that are sown become sheaves that are shown.’ Much seed has indeed been sown here in so many ways; in schools, in children, young people, older people, our communities, neighbours, friends, activities like Our Place, Good Companions, Noah’s Ark, First Steps, Kidz Klub, missional communities, Digging Deeper and so much more. We pray that you will enter into harvest-time as a church: for sheaves to be brought into the storehouse. In Paul & Colette you will have leaders who will be faithful to all that God shows them and we know that you will love and support them in the same way as you have us.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
We assure you of our continued love and prayers. Stephen & Pippa