LLCC news

Longley and Lowerhouses Community Church

Trustees: Robert Price and Brian Goodall

Our Mission Statement

Longley and Lowerhouses Community Church aims to be a caring, open-hearted Christian community, worshipping God, growing in discipleship and making known the good news of Jesus through word and action.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to John Crossland! (19th)

COMMUNION

Zoom Communion (bring your own!) Our time for sharing and prayer is on Wednesdays at 7.30 p.m. If you would like to know more about this, email or phone Brian, Rob or Ian & Val.

NEWS

On Sunday 3rd October, there will be another Special Church Meeting, following on from the one held on August 22nd, when there was considerable discussion concerning the future of the church. The meeting took place in a loving and caring atmosphere, but there was no doubt that the matter being discussed was very serious. At the meeting on October 3rd, there will be a proposal that the church should close permanently. This decision has not yet been taken; it can only be decided by the Church meeting.

Church members, this is your official notice of the meeting, as required by our constitution. Friends who are not church members will be welcome to attend and participate, though only members will be permitted to vote when a formal vote is taken.

Brian's Bit" - September 2021

I apologise for the late arrival of this notice sheet - it has required quite a bit of thought and reflection for me. It does look quite likely that the local church, which we have known for a large part of our lives, is going to close. We may continue in fellowship through ‘Zoom’ or through housegroups, when those become possible again, but if that decision is taken, Longley and Lowerhouses Community Church, formerly Longley Baptist Church, will cease to exist. Those employed by the church, or hiring space in the building, will be given notice, items of furniture and equipment will be made available to other churches who wish to collect them, and ultimately the building will be sold, and the proceeds passed to the YBA for use in other places of mission within Yorkshire.

I find the whole situation quite devastating. Like many of you, I’ve known this church for a major part of my adult life, starting in 1988, when Noreen and I were seeking to move to a church where we would be nearer to our elderly parents in Wakefield and Todmorden. Longley turned out to be about midway between the two and we could be with either of them well within an hour. But of course, geography was not the main consideration. For me personally, after twelve very positive years in Plymouth and six in Belgium before that, Longley seemed like the ‘dream church’ I had always been looking for, and I fell in love with the fellowship at first sight. Of course, there were some ups and downs, but thirteen years of energetic ministry here didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. Since 2014, in retirement, I have again been delighted to play a part in the church’s life.

So, whilst I would still say that I find the situation quite devastating, I am also constantly reminded of all that we have gained from our involvement in the church and the community. In looking back over the years, as we certainly will, there is so much to be thankful for. And as we look to the future, I would encourage you to take to heart the words of the Apostle Paul: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”.

Yours in Jesus’ name, Brian

Brian's Bit" - August 2021

This month we’re holding a significant event for which I want to request your serious prayer and involvement. A special Church Meeting has been planned for Sunday 22nd August. It will begin with a short time of worship starting at 10.30 a.m. The purpose of the meeting will be to consider the future of Longley and Lowerhouses Community Church. The service will be led by Clive Burnard, Regional Minister with the Yorkshire Baptist Association, who will also chair the church meeting. It will be important for us to have as many church members as possible present so that, at least, we will have a quorum. It may also be possible for those who are unable to be present to connect with us via ‘Zoom’, using a computer, tablet or smartphone. Whilst only church members will be able to vote, other friends are most welcome to join us.

Church members, please accept this as your official notice and invitation to the Special Church Meeting.

Clearly, one option before us is that the church should close. This is not a foregone conclusion: it requires a decision of the church members. However, it is not easy to see what other course of action would be possible. Like many of you, I have been associated with this church for a large portion of my adult life and I feel desperately sorry that this should be the situation.

So please take this meeting very seriously. Make it a matter of prayer, and come along if you possibly can, ready to take part. Transport can be arranged for those who need it.

It would be helpful to know how many members are able to attend the meeting, so please let me know if you are planning to come, by phone, text, email or any other means. That would be much appreciated.

Yours in Jesus’ name, Brian

Brian's Bit" - July 2021

THIS morning I took a photo of a tree. Nothing surprising about that, you might say. But this tree is quite special. It grows in our neighbour’s allotment, and is very big and wide, reaching to a height of thirty feet or more. It is a very imposing tree, just now fully in leaf and showing itself as one of the wonders of creation. When we first moved into our house, thirty-three years ago, it was much smaller. Our children, and several others, enjoyed climbing up into its branches and sitting there ‘eight feet above contradiction’ watching the world go by. So why am I mentioning this tree? It isn’t the only one: there are quite a few more like it, though this might be the largest. The point is that it is an Ash tree, and that was my reason for taking the photo. According to reliable reports, the fungal disease, ‘ash die-back’ is spreading north towards our area. In some places in the midlands many ash trees have died and gone the way of the Elms before them. I don’t know of anything that we can do about this – just hope that it doesn’t happen too soon! I’m also tending a sycamore tree and planning to plant an oak. We might even consider getting a wood burning stove!

At the same time, thirty-three years ago, I was inducted as the Minister of this church. It was thriving at the time, with people of all ages, including a substantial group of young adults, children and young people. But there again things have changed enormously. We are now a very small group, with some of us not as young as we used to be. Even before the Winter of 2020 we were beginning to ask questions about the church’s future. The effects of covid 19 have been a body blow for all of us, some more than others.

So, as I was thinking about the tree, I was reminded that we have to try and see things from a long-term perspective, as God sees them. That huge tree may well die and have to be cut down, but others will grow in its place and our little woodland will survive. The church, built up with blood, sweat and tears, as well as much faith, may well cease to exist in its present form, but the work of God will go on. May we be able to say, through it all: ‘But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’, 1 Corinthians 15:57.

Yours in Jesus’ name, Brian

Brian's Bit" - June 2021

I thought I’d say a bit about encouragement this month. Over the last year, we may have found encouragement a bit hard to come by, and its opposite, discouragement is not far away from any of us. I may have told you that I’m quite a Sudoku enthusiast and I enjoy completing the puzzles online through a website called www.websudoku.com

I’ve devised my own system on the computer to replace the little pencil notes that I would use if I was doing it on paper. I’ve progressed through the Easy puzzles and the Hard ones, and currently I’m doing quite well with the “Evil” ones (not a good category for a pastor, you might say!)

The other day, I defeated my latest evil puzzle in a new record time: 17 minutes and 12 seconds. The computer congratulated me on my achievement; I felt really encouraged. Then unfortunately I clicked on a link that said: ‘How’s my time?’ The verdict was “74% are faster”. I felt deflated, to say the least! I shouldn’t have been so inquisitive. But it did make me think about the whole subject of encouragement. When we compare ourselves with others, we can easily lose heart, but when we look to the Lord and realise the individual importance that he gives to each one of our lives and the significance of the place where he has set us, we can’t help but be encouraged and inspired to make it our goal to please him.

My sincere best wishes and greetings to you all,

Yours in Jesus’ name, Brian

Brian's Bit" - May 2021

THERE is some hope at the moment that the difficult circumstances that have affected us all for more than a year are beginning to come to an end. A number of us have had our second visit to one of the vaccination centres, and lockdown rules affecting the whole country and churches in particular are gradually being relaxed. It is permissible for worship services to take place, albeit quite a different form of service from the ones to which we have been accustomed. We could soon be taking a step in that direction if church members are willing and able to get involved. We’ll let you know as soon as there is any development.
When we are able to meet, church members will need to make some serious decisions about the future of our work in Longley and Lowerhouses. According to our constitution, any decisions will have to be taken by a Church Meeting, properly convened, and it is most likely that such a meeting would include the involvement of Clive Burnard, our Regional Minister.
Meanwhile I do encourage everyone to make this a serious matter of prayer. Our God is faithful!
Yours in Jesus’ name, Brian

"Brian's Bit" - March 2021

 

ONE  thing I’ve been doing, during the long months of lockdown, has been the task of tidying my study, or as I sometimes call it, my ‘Library and Resources Centre’. Other people in this row of houses have a similar room and they call it ‘the utility room’, or perhaps just ‘the cellar’.
But for me, it’s my study and it’s full of so many things that are important to me: books, notes and documents that date back almost 60 years to the time when I first came to believe that God was calling me into Christian ministry. They are in bookshelves, boxes, files and of course in my pride and joy, my large green filing cabinet! Not everything in there is important and, in recent years I’ve developed a programme of sorting through it all.
Quite a lot of things have gone to be sold on Ebay, go to a charity shop, get shredded to provide paper for the compost bins, into the green bin or even the grey one. But as I do my bit of sorting each day, I am constantly confronted by things I wrote when I was just starting in ministry and even in some cases when I was still at school. I’m re-introduced to a young man with high ideals, for whom there was no limit to what could be achieved in God’s strength, and I find myself challenged and encouraged over and over again.
Of course, many things have changed. I no longer have the full head of dark hair or the ability to do 20 press-ups or nip out for a five mile run. But essentially, I’m the same person that the Lord called all those years ago. Opportunities and challenges are different; life moves at a slower pace, but Christ’s call to take up the cross and follow him is just as real and as inviting as it ever was. I still want to say, loud and clear: ‘Lord, I am your servant; what will you have me do?’

Yours in Jesus’ name,

Brian

"Brian's Bit" - February 2021

MY daily Bible reading at the moment is taking me through the Letter to the Hebrews. It’s a fascinating book, with a certain mystery about it: who was it written to, and by whom? All we know about its origin is what we find written in the letter itself, and it doesn’t tell us all that much. One thing is certain, however. It was written to some Christians who had suffered quite a lot for their faith, and this suffering had gone on for such a long time that some of them were starting to give up. The letter was written to remind them of the importance of their faith and to encourage them. Most of all, it was to reinforce their faith in Jesus, who is described as being better: better than angels, better than Moses and the prophets and so much more. I suppose quite naturally my thoughts have run to compare their situation with ours. Their church life had been disrupted by persecution, ours by a deadly virus. But all of us need to be reminded not to lose heart and to realise that God still has a purpose for us.

So, we are reminded of the strength of our resources in God (Hebrews 6:19): ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure’.

And we are encouraged to look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2,3) the Author and Perfecter of our faith: ‘Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart’.

Also, we need to remember our heritage (Hebrews chapter 11) – that long chapter full of heroes of the faith, who succeeded in amazing exploits and didn’t give up.

Please keep on praying for the church and for each other, that God will guide us in the way we should go and help us in our daily lives to honour him.

Yours in Jesus’ name,

Brian

"Brian's Bit" - January 2021

DURING lockdown I’ve been doing quite a lot of reading. I’ve read the History of the BMS, 1792-1992, quite a large volume that we bought for my Dad when it was first published and inherited it back from him when he died two years ago. I found that, as I was reading it, I kept encountering people who have played a part in my life. One of my predecessors, Nathaniel Herbert Shaw, the first Pastor of Dewsbury Baptist Church, left there in the 1860s to work in Italy with the BMS, where he planted a number of churches, including one in Rome. His journey to Italy was helped by Thomas Cooke, the travel agent, who was also a Baptist minister and served on the BMS committee. As I read further along, I came across numerous names of missionaries I have known who have influenced my life in many ways.

In the package containing the recent IDEA magazine from the Evangelical Alliance, there was a free copy of the magazine produced by Urban Saints, the Christian youth organisation that used to be called Crusaders. I was deeply impressed by the way that organisation has managed to keep in touch with hundreds of youngsters during lockdown, a real inspiration and encouragement.

Recently I had a look at a website called ‘omnicalculator’, recommended as a way of finding out when I’ll be getting the vaccine. Apparently, I am somewhere between number 6,029,525 and 9,926,645 in the queue, and can expect to receive the vaccine between March 25th and May 19th. I’m not sure whether to add this to my list of encouragements or not!

I will continue to pray for you all, and wish you a happy and fruitful New Year 2021.

Yours in Jesus’ name, Brian

"Brian's Bit" - November 2020

MY personal Bible reading plan, which moves between the Old and New Testament, has taken me recently to the First Book of Samuel. I’m always intrigued by the ways God calls people to serve him and I find the example of the call of Samuel in chapter three to be one of the most striking. As well as the Lord speaking in the Temple to the young boy, and waking him with an urgent message, I’m impressed by the way that God’s people were in a situation of defeat. They really had their backs to the wall, but the priests, who were meant to interpret God’s will to the people, were compromised and powerless. Their enemies the Philistines, as was often the case, were always ready to take advantage of any sign of weakness. God’s answer took the form of a young boy, not the most obvious solution for either the nation’s loss of direction or the serious threat of attack by an enemy.

But Samuel had one huge advantage: he was totally dedicated to God, first by his mother, who had given him to the Lord before he was born (ch. 1 v. 11) and then by his own response: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening (ch. 3 v. 10).

Similarly, for us, our situation is strange and full of difficulty. We are praying that God will bring help and relief for his people and enable us to serve him in the place to which he has called us. Our faith says that although we can’t see the way, he can. Putting our trust in him is the surest way of facing the future.

Yours in Jesus’ name, Brian

"Brian's Bit" - September 2020

THERE are various questions that occupy the minds of those who contribute to the news media at this time. One question that has made me think is What have we gained from our time in lockdown?

For us personally, we’ve certainly managed to grow some impressive vegetables and soft fruit in the garden, and not going away on holiday has meant that the grass hasn’t got too long and the weeds have been kept at bay. We’re also producing an impressive amount of compost!

Meanwhile, Christian magazines testify to the huge take-up of online services and prayer opportunities. I was reading yesterday an article which said that 25% of the population have participated in some kind of religious service online, which is five times as many as usual.

For me, there has been quite a lot of tidying going on in my cluttered study and garage. Hopefully this physical tidying has been matched by some helpful sorting out of my thoughts and ideas.
Some people feel that life will never be the same after lockdown, that we will need to pursue our goals in new and different ways. Others perhaps are just longing for the time when everything gets back to ‘normal’, whatever that is. Of course, it will be necessary for many things to be restored to what they used to be, but I do rather incline to the view that we will have to accept a lot of change. Perhaps, for us, September will be a time of exploration as we look for ways in which our mission statement can be fulfilled in the future. Please join me as we continue to pray for the church and for each other and, if you have any inspiring ideas, let us know.

Yours in Jesus’ name, Brian

"Brian's Bit" (August 2020)

“What will become of us?” is a question I’ve written at the top of my ‘to do’ list recently. When I took on the role of being the Church’s official member of the Baptist Ministers’ Pension Fund, and then was appointed as a Trustee, it all seemed so simple. It was about preparing and leading services and writing up minutes of meetings – things I feel I can do reasonably well, and all at times and places that I could easily manage. What none of us realised at that time was that suddenly our ability to function in the accustomed way would suddenly be taken away by lockdown, and especially for those of us described as ‘most vulnerable’, we would be under a kind of house arrest for the foreseeable future. Personally, I have to admit that the whole thing has sapped my confidence, leaving me very unclear as to what can be achieved. Meanwhile the church building is being well looked after, as a recent report by Ian has shown, and the finances are good. Individually, I’m sure we all have hopes and plans for the future, but what of the Church? We have some serious praying and thinking and consulting to do and we value the prayers of everyone. As I was thinking about all this today, I was suddenly reminded of some powerful words from the Psalms. The verse occurs at least three times, in Psalm 42:5,11 and Psalm 43: 5 – “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God”.

Once again, if there are any developments, we’ll keep in touch and let you know.

Keep safe and keep well. Yours in Jesus’ name,

Brian

PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR EACH OTHER AND THE NATION AT THIS TIME. Remember each other and all those who are dear to us, especially those who are unwell and those recovering from hospital treatment

"Brian's Bit" (July 2020)

SUNDAY June 21st was the 50th Anniversary of my ordination into Christian ministry. It took place in Wakefield Baptist Church, where I was a member at the time, and was a great and memorable occasion for me. Just a few weeks later I was on an aeroplane heading towards Brussels for my first experience of full time employment as a Minister at the International Baptist Church of Brussels, Belgium (we called it that so that Americans would not confuse it with Brussels, Idaho or Brussels, California!) It was another step in what was to be a massive learning experience, which still continues.

Of course, I knew very little of what the future would bring but my trust in God’s provision and guidance has never been disappointed.

A more recent learning experience was my attempt to hold a prayer time via Zoom on the 3rd of June. It was successful for the very small number who were able to join me. I would like to try again, and this time I will prepare it a bit more carefully and send you information by email as well as just through Zoom.

 

"Brian's Bit" (June 2020)

DURING the time leading up to Pentecost my daily Bible readings have been in the book of Acts.I’ve been  reading about the ascension of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit, and once again I’ve been inspired by this Bible book on which I must have spent many hours preaching over the years.

One thing that has struck me this time is in Acts chapter 6, ‘The choosing of the seven’. The young Church in Jerusalem was experiencing an amazing time of growth and opportunity, yet at the same time they were facing considerable hostility and persecution. Their leaders, the Apostles, found themselves overwhelmed by the needs of those they were trying to care for and called for a plan to be implemented: seven men, suitably qualified, should take on this responsibility. As a result, the Gospel continued to be proclaimed and the church grew. Instead of just a problem to be solved, the church took a massive step forward. It’s my prayer that for us too, with all the difficulties we face at present, the Lord will show us how to turn obstacles into stepping stones and move forward in his name.

"Brian's Bit" (May 2020)

SO, how are things as we move into the seventh week of lockdown? Our country and our world are in a terrible situation as a result of the COVID-19 virus, which affects us all in some way. It’s hard to see if or when things will ever get back to normal!

There is a part of scripture that speaks of this kind of experience. Some of the Psalms refer to it, such as Psalm 137 which describes the feelings of the Israelites taken to exile in Babylon, and the Book of Lamentations, where Jeremiah vents his agony about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

But Jeremiah finds hope, which he expresses in the well-known words of Lamentations 3:22 & 23: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”. Could it be that the experiences we’re going through might lead us to find help in the eternal truths that the church was founded in order to proclaim?

Meanwhile, in our own enforced exile, there are some things to be thankful for: the kindness of so many people who have volunteered their help, and the friendship of neighbours we’ve known by sight for many years who seem more ready to talk. Our frontline of mission has been pulled right back to the limits of our house and garden, but it provides a vivid illustration of the things we were talking about in church just a few weeks ago.


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