Progress at Thornhill
Thornhill Baptist Church in West Yorkshire has called Ben Hutton from Ramsgate to be its new pastor and is set to welcome him in September.
Being relatively young, married to Lucy and with a new baby, Josiah, the intention is that for the next two years Mr Hutton will be mentored under the care of pastors and evangelists at Milnrow.
His own church has consented to his coming, and Milnrow Evangelical Church has consented to allow its pastor David Harding to continue his role as acting pastor alongside him for those two years.
Mr Hutton has been listening to the ministry of Mr Olyott from the website www.knowyourbiblerecordings.org as he walks to and from work each day. When not working, he has been an open air preacher and spent many weeks with United Beach Missions and its open air work, the Christian Answer.
It is evident that the church at Thornhill has been through difficulties. Changes within the lives of members have been evident, and the church members have drawn closer together as they have focused on the main issues of the Christian life.
Now they are encouraged that a man, who seems at home both in the pulpit and on the pavement, is coming to help them further the gospel witness in West Yorkshire and to care for them.
Thornhill church members have been aware that many churches have been looking for a godly and gifted man to help them, so they are thankful the Lord has had special mercy on them in providing for them in their need.
It is a great comfort to know that the gospel testimony in Thornhill will continue, and the members ask that others will not forget them in their prayers, that they will be a loving fellowship, loyal to the Lord and his word, and labouring to tell others of the Saviour.
Two years ago, in May 2009, Mr Harding was asked to help Thornhill get back on track from a position of being without a pastor, without any cash in the bank and without any sense of encouragement.
Not wanting the gospel witness in Thornhill to fail, Milnrow in Lancashire was pleased to allow its pastor to get involved. It was evident that David would have to give time each week to being on site, or at least every ten days if he were to provide any real care for the church and advance its witness.
Two years later the church has four new members, a healthy bank balance, is supporting two missionaries and continues to provide support for a child in a less developed country.
In addition, there is a strategy to get gospel literature out to the community and regularly visit at least ten medium-sized villages within six miles of the church. This includes plans in the autumn to hold a week of evangelism, in which teams will distribute literature to 10,000 homes and visit up to 1000 households personally.
The following weeks will be spent following up on those who have expressed interest. This strategy has been pursued by a number of evangelical churches in the area, such as Milnrow, Chorlton and Ramsbottom.
The church has bought a manse on the edge of the main council estate, in the hope that the Lord would eventually provide pastoral and evangelistic help. There have also been six outreach suppers and, at the 2011 spring supper, the room had to fit 78, the majority of whom were visitors.
Mr Harding has given time almost weekly to being in the village or ministering along with John Harris, a retired pastor serving in the church, so there has been a measure of continuity.
Mr Hutton will be welcomed to the pastorate on Saturday 10 September at 2.00pm. The preacher will be David Gayton from Dudley Baptist Church. (More details: www.thornhillbaptistchurch.org.uk)