Under the title ‘The pastor’s last exhortation’, Gordon Bull delivered his last sermon to the congregation of Thornton Heath Evangelical Church (THEC) as pastor.
Mr Bull has taken up the gospel call to mission work. Together with his wife Sandra and children Joel and Rachel, he is heading off with Operation Mobilisation (OM) after more than eight years as pastor of THEC.
By God’s grace, the church was able to induct a new pastor at the same meeting. During a brief handover, the congregation welcomed Pastor Stephen Ridgeway to the ministry.
He had been voted in earlier this year by an overwhelming majority, and the Ridgeways have long been friends to many of us. Mr Ridgeway had worked for the church from 2001 to 2003.
Mr Bull said it was ‘rare’ that an incumbent pastor could ‘pass the baton’ to the incoming pastor, but felt glad he was able to pray for and welcome the Ridgeways in person.
In his sermon, Mr Bull said, ‘Today is the day of last words – but not final words… as I am confident we shall meet again. The next time we stand before you, I shall simply be a church member.’
He shared a passage with us which he felt God had laid on his heart: ‘Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labour is not in vain’ (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Mr Bull urged listeners, ‘What are you living for? What are you working for? Are you working and living for what is eternal, for what is of infinite and eternal worth… and what will result in our eternal good, and the eternal good of those we served?’
He reminded us that what we do for God is never futile, even if we never see any fruit. This is because in the afterlife ‘we will realise in that moment it was worth all the sacrifices, all the time and all the effort’.
It was a fitting sermon by which to pass on the torch to Mr Ridgeway, and it is with immense gratitude that THEC said farewell to the Bulls and ‘welcome’ to the Ridgeways.
God’s timing and provision for the church is indeed good, and we praise him for providing an under-shepherd to guide us through the uncertain paths ahead.