More than 300 people gathered on 30 September for the induction of Robert Strivens to the pastorate of Bradford on Avon Baptist Church, Wiltshire. The meeting was chaired by Basil Howlett, from Carey Baptist Church, Reading.
The service commenced with the singing of the hymn, ‘Lord, for the years your hand has kept and guided’. Mr Howlett led the congregation in prayer and the Scriptures were read by Martin Leech.
After stirring, unaccompanied singing of ‘Immortal honours rest on Jesus’ head’, Mr Howlett asked Jeremy Jarvis to speak on behalf of the church. Mr Jarvis gave a detailed account of events leading up to the call of Mr Strivens to the pastorate, paying warm tribute to the many preachers who had supported the church through seven pastor-less years.
He made reference to the difficult years the church had gone through, explaining the church’s efforts to find a man to lead. He recounted the amazing way God had led Mr Strivens to an interest in the church, and the events leading up to his unanimous call.
Mr Strivens then explained the way he felt called to move back to pastoral work and away from his responsibilities in the London Seminary. He explained his long-term affection for the church at Bradford on Avon and his appreciation of how his call had been dealt with. He also expressed thanks for the welcome and support he and his wife, Sarah, had received from the church.
Mr Howlett asked Mr Strivens and the church members a series of questions related to the call to the pastorate, following which Robert Oliver led the congregation in prayer, particularly commending Robert and the church to God for the future.
Bill James preached from 1 Corinthians 3, emphasising the pastor’s responsibility as a servant of God, of the gospel and of the church. Mr James has been pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Leamington Spa, for 26 years, but has now taken up the position of principal at London Seminary, vacated by Mr Strivens. The church rejoices in God’s goodness over many years and prays God will richly bless Mr Strivens’ ministry in the days to come.