Jubilee Baptist Church, Occold
Jubilee came into being on Sunday 4 March, the result of an amalgamation of Grove Evangelical and Occold Baptist churches in Suffolk.
The congregation of the former churches met together in the morning for the final ‘joint service’, when David Steere preached from Joshua chapters 1 and 3. He spoke on saying ‘goodbye’ to the past and ‘hello’ to the future. This was followed by meetings to dissolve the old and create the new church, as agreed by both memberships.
Then we enjoyed an excellent fellowship lunch together, before the legal formalities were addressed in the first church business meeting of Jubilee Baptist Church. Finally, our time together on this historic day was spent around the Lord’s Table as we remembered his sacrifice for us.
We were joined for the day by Mr and Mrs Eric Cousins. Mr Cousins is the chief executive of Grace Baptist Trust Corporation; the corporation are trustees of the new church who helped us through much of the legal minefield.
The name Jubilee has geographical associations with the area where we worship and, in Old Testament times, the year of Jubilee signified a restoration and new start. (There is also a certain other Jubilee celebration this year, coinciding with the formation of our new church!)
There had been two churches, holding the same doctrinal positions, meeting in the same village for 20 years following a period of great difficulty within the church. Last year tentative steps were made together to meet as one church on Sunday mornings.
Then, after much prayer, it was decided to meet together twice on a Sunday and share prayer meetings on a Thursday night. This has meant both churches have had to make sacrifices for the good of the whole. This has all been done in a marvellous spirit of love and understanding.
When we meet now, it is a time of great joy and we can say with the psalmist, ‘When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion we were like those who dream’. We are excited at what God has done and what he will yet do for us. This can be summed up from the line of the first song we sang together as a new church: ‘Lift your voice, it’s the year of Jubilee, out of Zion’s hill salvation comes’.
We are holding official recognition services of the new church on Sunday 29 April, at 10.45am and 6.00pm in Occold Village Hall, to which everyone is invited.