On Saturday 14 July, Thornton Heath Evangelical Church (THEC) joined with many friends for the induction of Gordon and Sandra Bull and to thank God for his provision of a pastor.
Peter Dunn, church elder, opened the service, which was held at Selhurst Evangelical Church as Thornton Heath’s halls were still under construction. Mr Dunn expressed thanks to friends and family who had made the trip to south London from across the UK, including from Manchester, Peterborough, Eastbourne and Surrey.
Among many churches represented were Hitherfield Road Baptist Church — which is still looking for a pastor — Three Bridges, Crawley, and Otford Evangelical Church.
Mr Dunn said this was a ‘rare event’, being only the second induction at THEC for more than 50 years, adding, ‘We are grateful to the Lord for sending his servants Gordon and Sandra to us’.
He read many expressions of gladness from absent friends, including from Richard Underwood of the FIEC, who wrote, ‘May Rev. Bull’s ministry be of great blessing to the people at Thornton Heath’.
Other letters came from Steve Ridgeway, new pastor at Mitchley Hill; former missionaries Bernard and Linda Lewis, now in Wales; Robert Pickering, pastor of Selhurst who was sadly at his child’s bedside in hospital that day; Pastor Cyril Aston, a former minister’s assistant at THEC, as was Mike Holland, who also sent his greetings.
Mr Bull’s father, Alwyn Bull, read from 1 Peter 5:1-4, before Barrie Llewellyn, church secretary, gave the background to the call. He said, ‘We had looked in all the usual places but without success. But we hadn’t looked as far as South Africa, where Mr Bull had been serving. But God has his ways of providing’.
In February, when a contact recommended Mr Bull to preach at THEC, Mr Llewellyn said there was a ‘sense of God’s guiding presence’, so that when, on 9 May, the church members voted with one heart to call Mr Bull, and he accepted, it was clear ‘God’s hand was over the whole process’.
In his response, Gordon Bull said he and his wife had been in a period of ‘great uncertainty’ before that first phone call in February inviting him to preach on 26 February.
He said, ‘I thank God for the privilege of being at a church where people love Jesus and where the opportunity for ministry is breaking down the door’. He also stated his commitment to preaching God’s Word ‘in all its truth’ and to leading by example.
He thanked his and Sandra’s parents, the THEC elders and the church for receiving them with Christian love, adding, ‘And of course thanks to my wife — I love you dearly’.
Then followed the act of induction, led by Pastor Colin Jones of Three Bridges, in which Mr Bull made solemn vows, as did the church promising to support him and pray for his ministry. After this, Winston Saunders, former pastor of Selhurst, long-standing friend of THEC and its first ever assistant minister, prayed.
Pastor Jones then preached from 1 Peter on the manner, motive and content of ministry. He said, ‘What Peter is saying to the church he is saying to himself. Just so, what a minister says and does cascades through the church. He must restore souls like a shepherd, in kindness.
‘The minister must feed our souls with good food, preparing it with care, not microwaving it. Mr Bull is called to be a pastor of God’s flock, but must remember that ownership is God’s — always and only — because nobody else but Jesus suffered and died for the members, or redeemed and ransomed them’.
The hymns chosen for the occasion were ‘O God beyond all praising’, ‘Great is thy faithfulness’, ‘In Christ alone’ and ‘A charge to keep I have’. After the service, everyone enjoyed a time of food and fellowship.