Dear Praying Friends of C and M Heritage
This autumn period of the year is often regarded as the start of the church year as new ventures come into operation after the summer break. So, it is not surprising that there are many anniversaries taking place. On 4 October 70 years ago, at the age of 25, Cliff was ordained into the Congregational ministry and took up his first appointment in Harlesden in North-West London.
In a trend towards denominational unity, twenty years later, the Congregational Union of England and Wales united with the Presbyterian Church in England and both the URC and the Congregational Federation were born, so this is their 50th anniversary.
This year Cliff celebrated his 95th birthday by preaching twice and, since we last wrote, Cliff and Monica have celebrated their 65th Wedding Anniversary and our ever expanding and widening family (now 21 officially-related from 4 generations) gathered in Derbyshire from far and wide to maintain their support links into the future and also dig back in understanding and developing their own heritage.
So, we are still looking back to get a fuller picture – but we are also learning its significance for the future.
If you want to navigate quickly to a particular section, you can click on the hyperlink here; otherwise, just scroll down the email.
We are always pleased to hear if these subjects stimulate you, and we try to respond to all your requests. We are keen to share any others in which you have been involved with us in the past which you feel would be helpful to others at this time.
Blessings to you all
Cliff and Monica, Angela, Jenny plus all those sharing in creating this changing face of C and M Ministries.
This Month’s Themes
We live in changing times and today’s world is now very different to the one when we were first in active ministry in this country – anniversaries can highlight the changes that have taken place in the intervening years.
Many changes have taken place in our nation in the last 70 years – not least in its spiritual state. Last time we spoke a little about the strength of the churches in those days and, having been asked for more detail of their lives pre-marriage, Cliff and Monica are enclosing a short summary about this period in their lives and the strand of Christianity which has been so important to both of them, as well as more details of Cliff’s training experiences – and an update for today.
Cliff preached twice on 2nd October, the nearest Sunday to his ordination day. Once in person in Bunyan Meeting, where our membership has remained and where we were both interviewed on our Seventy Years of Ministry and links with Congregationalism and that community. Then again in the on-line fellowship gathering in the afternoon. An audio version of the afternoon service is here with the downloadable slides we showed from 1961 in Tottenham and of our 2001 Singapore and Indonesia visit. These will eventually be on different pages on the website.
Change was already taking place: in 1966 the Congregational Union had become the Congregational Church and many in its evangelical branch had split away to form the EFCC (Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches). Cliff was lecturing in 1970 when he published an academic paper on 'Congregationalism: Reformation in Reverse'.
As we have also reported, the changes in the 70s attempted to bring about a reversal of the signs of apathy, amid the growing decline in church attendance. There was a new emphasis on evangelism and evangelicalism, leading to the birth of many new expressions of churches as well as a new endeavour and move towards visible unity among existing churches that many hoped would set an ecumenical example for others to follow.
1972 was the year in which the Anglicans vetoed a proposed merger with the Methodists but the Congregational and Presbyterian churches in England formed the United Reformed Church. We and others refrained from the latter merger on principle, as we did not feel right about the reason and basis of this unity with its move towards centralisation and we already had a working relationship with Christians across all spectrums. We also knew that many of the smaller Congregational churches feared that they would be closed down and so the Congregational Federation came into being at the same time. Two of Cliff’s reflections are printed in Golden Threads jointly published to commemorate the 50 years. But in the 50 years since then, the total number of churches of all denominations in the UK has continued to decline with the exception of the migrant incoming churches and a significantly larger number of churches closed down than new ones being planted – see Peter Brierley’s research in Future First. More recent closures have been attributed to the Covid 19 church closures and subsequent searches for other methods of fellowship. Many of these closures have been in the URC and the Congregational Federation.
The BCGA (British Church Growth Association) was launched in September 1981 shortly after the 1980 National Congress on Evangelism and held the first Council Meeting in February 1982. It then circulated its first brochure by the end of the month.
From its inception the BCGA was always blessed with a very diverse Council of up-and-coming leaders from all denominations, chosen by its members from its membership for a specific period of time. Its trust deed limited it to between 12 and 22 members, drawn from practitioners, researchers, teachers and denominational leaders with just three meetings a year and lots of sub-committees on which everyone served and pulled their weight in one way or another – we only employed a part-time secretary during the 25 years I was involved. We rarely had less than 20 leaders meeting together on these occasions, flying or travelling in from all over the country and taking it in turns to be hosts – many making it a necessary priority for their diaries. One of the meetings each year was scheduled to be a full day, sometimes overnight, when there was always a debate on topical church growth issues. It became an amazing think tank, tackling difficult issues but supporting each other along the way. These debates are being drawn together and will appear on our website in the near future.
In the August MailChimp we introduced a number of the different strands of the BCGA, all of which produced separate supplements and mailings. The first of these was the ‘Small Church Network’, originally called ‘Celebrating the Small Church’ and produced quarterly issues from 1996 for at least the next seven years with all the resources to assist and support small churches that we had built up. Our recent BCGA networking has brought us back in touch with Rev Daniel Yarnell, who jointly with Rev Dr Martin Robinson, published “Celebrating the Small Church”. Dan became the Small Church Coordinator from the start and is still continuing this ministry on a much wider basis – see his ‘Annotated Bibliography for Small Churches’. We are exploring together how some of our experiences and resources of the past may provide fresh vision for the ever-increasing number of small churches and fellowships, accentuated by the continuing decline of churches, but also by the need for smaller and different fellowship gatherings occasioned by Covid 19.
At the current time of writing, we have felt the need to turn to our international travel and the changes that have taken place in both modes of transport and reasons for travelling (which have enabled us to keep up with our grandchildren in all their adventures as young people today). It covered four continents – North America, Africa, Asia and Europe including the Bible Lands.
More News Updates
• Advances on the Website
At last, we are expecting to be able to show you some of the progress on the website with a number of general pages being partially activated during the next week or so. We will continue to send you bi-monthly updates and the links to these will soon be appearing on the Ministry links to give you a wider picture. This coincides with the new logo for Issachar Ministries appearing on the old joint webpages and the new era they are entering.
• Continuing Links with Issachar Ministries
As well as the continuing links between our growing freely accessible resource database and those books on sale through the IM website, we are still working together in many ways. Cliff will continue to contribute on topical issues in Prophecy Today,providing input for the IM State of the Nation Update Messages – increasingly jointly using more specific links from our heritage on these as well as at the Sunday Gatherings whenever we are invited to contribute to them. We expect there to be an extra page on Heritage issues in their Winter mailing going out next month and this goes to those on our mailing list who do not have any internet links. We will continue to fellowship and cooperate with our colleagues while our main emphasis will be on heritage issues.
• ‘Becoming an Issachar People’
This is fittingly our final joint book publication with an IM ISBN and is at the typesetting and printing stage and should be out in time for Christmas presents – so do place your pre-orders with Jacqueline now on 0333 090 2187. We are already planning expanding access to parts of it with material in different sections on our new website.
• C&M Trustees
The Trustees are becoming more active behind the scenes but are dropping back into holding just two official Trustees meetings a year – the next of which will be on 8th November. Please pray that they will make all the right decisions and be able to agree a budget for the way forward.
• Museum Update
We are hearing that already links to the Bruce Castle Museum and various Oral History sites are being made and creating more interest – and we are being in touch with more old (and new) friends.
• 100th Anniversary
Mary Godfrey, a stalwart from the Moggerhanger Days, passed quietly away during the pandemic when there was no joint opportunity to remember her. The Godfrey family reunion at Moggerhanger took place to celebrate what would have been her 100th Birthday and we sent this message. We fully intend to publish ‘The Moggerhanger Story’ as part of our Memoirs in the near future.
• Global Strategy Forum Update
The Global Strategy Forum took place in Austria last month with only a limited British attendance. I am attaching a link to the 32-page programme – the ten identified ‘Mountain groups’ of those structures effective in today’s society and the small group discussion starters on page 12 make interesting discussion starters for us. The report will be circulated to those who might be interested. Just express your interest through email@example.com.
• Update on ‘Shades of Black’.
The proposed launch of ‘Shades of Black’ – an important new book on colour consciousness by Clifford Hill, Alton Bell and Nigel Pocock – did NOT take place on the 18th October as planned as MPs needed to be elsewhere at that time. The Parliamentary event will now take place in the Jubilee Room in the Palace of Westminster on 24th November and will include a presentation of strategic proposals for action and change. If you would like to apply to join them in Parliament on 24th November, please request this to Adam May: firstname.lastname@example.org / 07736 949 869.
To prepare for this, the first in a series of action planning Zooms will be held on 27 October – click here for registration links, or contact Adam May for more details.
But a number of radio and TV interviews have been taking place and will continue to do so. You can see Cliff’s interview on Revelation TV here and hear another interview on BBC 3 Counties and Northampton Radio (35 mins in) here, There are other recordings with Premier Radio at 7.35 on 18 October BBC WM and BBC CWR on 23rd October and UCB at 9.25 on 24th October. The expected contribution of one or two others is available to see or listen here.
‘Shades of Black’ is now officially on the market and obtainable at many bookshops as well as through Issachar Ministries. If you call Jacqueline directly on 0333 090 2187 and say you are on the C&M Mailchimp mailing list, she will be able to give you a discount.
Help and Prayer Needed – Volunteer Opportunities
Increasingly those who join us are finding these opportunities to meet invaluable, even if they are only on-line. There is a time for fellowshipping and getting to know each other and to voice needs, to pray together and sometimes there is a short discussion of items raised in the news items, current affairs, on Prophecy Today or in Issachar Ministries.
Do let us know through email@example.com if you have any questions or would like to follow up any particular issues.
There will be another opportunity to meet with individual members online via Zoom on Monday the 14th November at 7.30 pm or Tuesday the 15th November at 2.00 pm. A personal link will be sent round on the Monday morning of that week. This does not rule out any further Zoom meetings – and if another time and date would suit you better, please let us know. We value our contact with you.
Once again, thank you for your support and prayers – you are all very much appreciated.