Upton Baptist Church (UBC) in Chester rejoiced, on 26 September 2015, to welcome their new pastor Owen Blackwood, with his wife Eleanor and their three girls, Molly, Jemima and Rosie.
We were joined by many good friends from local churches and from around the country, and in particular from Peniel church in Maesteg, where Mr Blackwood had previously served as pastor since 2005.
Andrew Norbury, who was co-pastor with Mr Blackwood at Maesteg, warmly commended him to the church. Dave Stott, who has provided full-time pastoral care with the other elders, following the retirement of Jim Waterworth in 2012, and now formally recognised as associate pastor, spoke about Mr Blackwood and the way in which the Lord has brought him and the family to the church.
Mr Blackwood himself shared how the Lord called him to the Christian ministry and theological training at ECTW (now the Wales Evangelical School of Theology, Bridgend).
To follow the Lord’s call isn’t always the easiest path, and it has not been easy for the Blackwoods to say farewell to Maesteg, but we have the promise in Psalm 23, that ‘goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life’.
Ian Parry from the Bay Church in Cardiff preached from Acts 1:1-11, reminding Mr Blackwood and the congregation that, in our call to be witnesses, as those who are sent by Christ, we should be confident, not in ourselves but in the risen, ascended and enthroned Lord Jesus Christ.
The book of Acts teaches us that God’s power leads to refreshing, blessing, love, hope and forgiveness. The gospel message isn’t about self-help or a set of instructions for life: it is the story of a complete and finished work of atonement.
The Son of God was wrapped in vulnerability and weakness, but we can now fix our eyes on him as the unassailable, unstoppable victor. The church at Upton looks forwards humbly, but with this biblical confidence, as they enter a new phase of their life and ministry together.