From the beginning of May until the start of September, I will be taking a sabbatical from my role as pastor of Shirley Baptist Church. I am well into my eighth year with you and the Church leaders and members have graciously afforded me the privilege of taking this time out to recharge my spiritual batteries, renewing and refreshing myself in the Lord and all He called me to.
A visit to the Holy Land will take centre stage during this time, but Sundays will be spent with Kathie and I worshipping alongside various friends and family members in their own churches, open to the voice of God to us, and enjoying the delights of praising Him without any leading role.
As much as I am sure our time away will be good for us, our prayer is that it will also be a blessing to all of you. Pastor Paul will take on more of the preaching with others helping and I ask you in our absence to support him with your presence at those key fellowship times, so that he knows as I have known, the fullness of the blessing that arrives whenever God’s people gather together to worship Him.
My last Sunday with you before my sabbatical starts is on April 28th which will include a baptism. After the service I am inviting everyone to stay and share a fellowship lunch together so that Kathie and I can have the joy of speaking to as many of you as possible before our sabbatical begins. Please write the date in your diary and plan to be there. I am praying that this will be the best Sunday ever, and one that will give us the boost to know that you all stand with us in this strategic time away.
We will also have with us Bishop Vasily Furta visiting from our twin church in Buzivka and Misha Vyshemirskiy from Hope Now Ukraine who will translate for him. On Thursday April 25th, I am asking for all Life-groups to close and come to the church for an extended time of hearing from Bishop Furta, so that we can get an update on the work at Buzivka and build on the friendship we have started with them. Even if you don’t go to any Life-group at present, please again, I ask you to plan to be there and make this true man of God feel welcome and encouraged to be among us. There will be an offering for the ministry of Buzivka on Sunday April 28th too so that they can make sure at the very least that their summer youth camp goes ahead again this year and is just as fruitful. Please give as generously as you can.
Finally, I would like you all to know that I count it a real honour to be your pastor and thank you for all you all are and do to make my ministry among you, the joy that I feel it is.
Stay true, stay faithful and stay encouraged yourselves, and please do, I urge you, support Paul and the whole leadership team to the full whilst I am away.
In Him and with love.