Notes from Sunday – England Edition

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  • I am writing these words from London, where it is Monday morning. When I finish typing this post, I will help to the airport for my flight home.

    I had a great day of worship with the Loughborough Baptist Church in Loughborough. The city is about an hour’s train ride outside of London.

    Saturday evening, I stayed with Michael and Katie in their home. Michael is the secretary for the church.

    Michael and Katie were wonderful hosts. They have been married for 47 years, having met at a Christian youth camp. I enjoyed the conversation.

    Michael and Katie were shocked that I did not use milk in my tea. I was equally shocked that they did.

    Their home was built in 1740. Of course, it has been fully refurbished. It was beautiful.

    Across the street from their home was a sign commemorating the fact that John Wesley had preached in that stop from his horse. Way cool.

    Gert Sassius is the pastor of the Loughborough congregation, where he has only served for nine months. But the congregation is very excited about the prospects for the future under its new pastor.

    Several members of the congregation had watched the streaming of our services at Shiloh over the past several weeks. So they had a sense of what to expect from my preaching.

    When I asked how long I should preach, the answered was, “It is not for me to say. We are here to hear the word of God. It is not our place to say how long or short the ministry of the word should be.” The best answer to that question I have every heard!

    I preached from Psalm 23, hoping I would be able to connect through a familiar passage. My exposition of the passage seemed to be received well.

    I quoted Charles Haddon Spurgeon and John R.W. Stott – two famous English pastors/preachers – in the introduction. The congregation smiled.

    Though very quiet during the sermon, the members were eager to share with me how they were helped by the message after the service was over. There were many specific references to thoughts in the message. It was obvious they were listening well.

    There was no choir. Only congregational singing. Rich hymns. It was great!

    There was no invitation to discipleship extended in the service, even though the church obviously has a commitment to evangelism. I did not ask by what means new members are received into the church.

    They thought it was novel that we have Sunday school for adults, as well as children.

    The congregation has a pipe organ that was donated to the church by Dale Carnegie in 1908. The congregation celebrated its centennial in 2008.

    Several members expressed how troubled they were by the riots that had been taking place in London. Different perspectives; mutual concern.

    I really missed being with my congregation today. It was the first Sunday I have not been at Shiloh all year.

    Brodes Perry preached at Shiloh on “Friends Don’t Let Friends Die Lost” (Mark 2:1-11).

    Over the evening, I received several reports about how great the service was. Praise God!

    I met up with several colleagues here who had preached in different places. All seemed to have had a good experience. Very encouraging.

    Ready to go home.

    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.