On Saturday 22 September, a service of induction and ordination for Tony Simpson was held at Aycliffe Evangelical Church, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.
Newton Aycliffe is ‘the oldest new town in the north of England’, founded in 1947.
Visitors came from the town and local churches, and as far away as Falkirk, London, Chessington and Birmingham.
The service was led by John Rubens, pastor at Aycliffe since 1997. Mr Rubens reminded the congregation this was a time of praise and thanksgiving, as well as an occasion for the public recognition of Mr Simpson’s calling.
A brief history of the church was given, from its inception in 1988 to 2010. Mr Rubens then described how, in 2010, he made known his plan to retire on or before his 70th birthday, two years later.
Special times were set apart to pray for God’s will to be made known, and God guided the church to Mr Simpson.
The new pastor then shared how God had led him, as a young man, to put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Soon after, he felt called to be a pastor — and was terrified. But with prayer and encouragement at his churches in Bourneville and Highgate — and with preparation at London Theological Seminary — he felt assured of God calling him to the ministry, and to Newton Aycliffe.
The act of induction and ordination was led by Robert Strivens, principal of LTS. Also taking part were Mark Rowcroft, pastor of Geneva Road Baptist Church, Darlington; Ron Swales, former pastor at Aycliffe, but now pastor of Central Hall, Newcastle; Chris Thomas, pastor of Oaktree Church, Bourneville, Birmingham; and John Rubens.
In his address, Mr Strivens spoke forcefully about where the power of the gospel lies. Drawing our attention to 1 Corinthians 1:18, he pointed out that our first need is to be rescued from the consequences of our sin.
This could not be done by a religion of ritual and rules, nor by anything that we have done. God’s deliverance can come only by what God has done, through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Mr Strivens emphasised that Mr Simpson’s call was to proclaim this good news of the cross to those who come to the church, and to find ways of reaching those who do not come. He called on the church to support their new pastor in this.
A good time of food and fellowship with old and new friends was enjoyed after the service.