This past weekend, our church celebrated its 357th Anniversary, with a special service on Saturday evening, and then a special focus at our usual Sunday morning service. We had the privilege of having Dave & Phyl Sweetman with us, Dave is the current president of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion.
Doing the maths
If you subtract 357 from 2019 you get 1662, which is the year we were founded. In an act of 'costly conscientiousness' about 2,000 ministers at that time lost their livelihoods and their homes for taking a principled stand for biblical truth. Various issues surround the The Book of Common Prayer meant that ministers felt they had no option but to establish independent churches. We prayed for ministers who face a similar challenge today.
J I Packer writes of our founders: "They kept a good conscience in the only way open to them, or to any Christian - by following truth as it appears from Scripture, and refusing to sell it, or betray it, for any consideration in the world".
Selina, Countess of Huntingdon
Likewise, Selina, despite a very wealthy but very unhappy upbringing, also decided to devote herself to the Lord following her conversion in her early 30s. We learnt of her reaching out to the nobility, monarchy and commoners alike with the gospel, as her position gave her unique opportunity to do so. We thanked God for her training of ministers, her founding of a Bible College and he support for George Whitefield, and prayed that God would raise up more like them.
It is said of Selina: “Thousands, I may say tens of thousands, in various parts of the kingdom heard the gospel through her instrumentality that in all probability would never have heard it at all; and I believe through eternity will have cause to bless God that she ever existed."
Preaching the Word
Dave Sweetman brought us two messages, 'Hope for the Church' from the healing of the leper in Matthew 8, and 'Hope for the world' from Romans 8. It was wonderful to have the storyline of the Bible brought out of just six verses in Matthew and to see Jesus so clearly. It was also very encouraging to have our gaze lifted to all that God has promised to do in the future.
In the light of our founders faithfulness to God's word, we long and pray that we might be faithful in our day too. In the light of Selina's life, we pray that we might use the resources and opportunities that we have for the progress of the gospel. And in the light of what Jesus has done and will do, we renew our hope in him as the Saviour of the world.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
May God be glorified in our generation, and indeed in the next generation, as he has been in the lives of those who have gone before us.
With our love
Tim Dennick and the members of Zion Community Church