Saturday 29 November was a special day for the members and friends of Gillingham Baptist Church, when they celebrated the appointment of Simon Chase to the pastorate.
Mr Chase, an elder at the church, succeeded Michael Heather, who retired in 2011. The many visitors came mainly from churches in the Wessex area, but some from further afield.
One scholar has said concerning God’s timing that, ‘when you study the works of God, especially in the Old Testament, you can see that he is never in a hurry, but he is never late’.
In other words, God’s timing is perfect, even to the smallest detail, which in this case made it possible for Mr Chase’s youngest son Jonathan, living and studying in Singapore, to be in the UK and be present, together with his wife Denise.
The service was led by elder John Blake, who after the opening hymn, ‘O for a thousand tongues to sing’, and prayer, made a statement of thankfulness to God. He also thanked those who had provided ministry Sunday by Sunday since 2011.
A Scripture reading, followed by a prayer of petition for God’s blessing on the future, was given by former pastor Michael Heather.
The ministry of the Word was given by Rev. Selwyn Morgan from South Wales, who worked with Mr Chase in Reading many years ago and has been a long-term friend ever since.
Mr Morgan preached powerfully and challengingly on the topic of salt and light, from the Sermon on the Mount, which had been read by Mr Chase (Matthew 5:1-16).
After the closing hymn and benediction, a bouquet was presented to Simon’s wife, Fiona, on behalf of the membership.
An excellent finger buffet was served in the church hall, where informal fellowship was enjoyed. Given that Michael Denton, Mr Heather’s son-in-law, played the organ during the service, it was clear that the Heather family had a very busy day, a contribution much appreciated by all.
Pic (l to r): John Blake, Selwyn Morgan, Fiona Chase, Simon Chase