The end of a chapter

Today we signed contracts for the sale of St Barnabas.

St Barnabas Cross
It was a bittersweet occasion. On the one hand, there was sadness at the loss of a church that has meant so much to so many people over the years. There are members who grew up at that church, and who came to faith there, and others in the wider community with a whole host of special memories. But on the other hand, there was thankfulness for all the Lord has done over the years, that time and time again He has proven His love, His faithfulness and His mercy.

And we could today also give thanks that the church will continue to be used in the service of the gospel. The buyers are Redeemer Church who will be using the building for midweek activities and for general office administration. So today was not the end of the story, merely the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. After all, what is important is not which denomination owns a particular building but how that building best serves the purposes of making Jesus Christ known.

It also seems significant that we are exchanging contracts in the same week as we celebrate 175 years since the foundation stone of St Michael’s was laid. Of course what we are marking is not the construction of a building – we are by now onto our third(!) church on the same site – but rather the story of how the Lord has led and guided His people from 1843 right up to the present day.

Buildings for all their special associations and wonderful memories are ultimately gifts from the Lord which we must allow Him to use as He sees fit for His kingdom. Our task is to make sure we are good stewards of whatever we have been given.

And this is why on this special day I want to pay particular tribute to those people who have worked so hard and so tirelessly as faithful stewards at St Barnabas over so many years. They are the ones who through hard work, often unseen and unknown to others, have served to build God’s kingdom in that place. It is thanks to their labours we can hand over this church for others to continue their work. So we pray for Redeemer Church as they take on this responsibility, that the Lord will grant them wisdom and grace for the next chapter of the story.

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