Pastor for Portsmouth
Grace Baptist Church, Portsmouth, inducted its first pastor, Evan Richards, on Reformation Day 2009. More than 150 people gathered to give God the glory for his appointment to lead this young church.
Evan, who is married to Tracey, comes from South Wales. He has had pastoral experience in Buckinghamshire and South Wales, as well as being involved in a church planting project in the Midlands.
Grace Baptist Church, Portsmouth, began in 2001 as a ‘Noah’s Ark’s full’ of just eight people, when two pensioners, a teacher, widow, computer programmer, care worker, taxi driver and serviceman felt constrained to begin a Reformed work.
Rapidly constituting as a church in early 2002, they were greatly encouraged by so many. Pastors Alec Taylor (Chelmsley Wood) and David Fountain (Southampton) were key advisers. The trustees of Bethesda Mission graciously opened their hall for their use and Spring Road Evangelical Church, Southampton, helped to supply preachers.
Each Sunday, the word was ministered faithfully. Pastor Mark Stocker (Southampton) provided rock-like friendship as their mentor, chairing church meetings and guiding. Over the years, the fellowship grew. A Friday Club for 7-11 year olds started. Later, a work among 12-14 year olds developed, missionaries were supported and outreach was undertaken.
By 2006 the church believed that a pastor should be called, although the church never advertised for one, believing that the Lord would send the man of his choice through a friend.
In 2009, the Lord was pleased to lead church and pastor together. Paul’s two-stage test at Troas (2 Corinthians 2:12-13) – an open door plus godly peace – confirmed that the Lord was leading the way.
Mark Stocker led the service and inducted Evan Richards on behalf of Grace Baptist Church. Evan and Tracey were welcomed into church membership by deacons Rupert Hollins and Mark Goodridge.
Accounts were given of the church’s call and the pastor’s response. These testified of the Lord’s sovereign guidance and grace in bringing about this union. Solemn vows were exchanged by pastor and church alike.
Pastor Philip Swann (Llanelli) gave the message. Mr Swann stressed the importance of the church being spiritual, mature and united, and reminded Evan Richards that the pastor is only a servant and only a man, but significantly God’s man. Serving Christ will, above all else, mean enduring hardship and not giving up.
Grace Baptist Church, Portsmouth, prays that it might excel in its witness and service for the Lord, so that the new pastor might find the burden of pastoral office uncommonly light and the benefit unusually great.