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Baptist churches bring hope to communities

A number of key events organised as Hope 14 are set to take place in the next couple of weeks.

An ‘audacious’ day-long celebration and mission event called the “Shropshire Hope Explosion” will be held at the Telford International Centre on Saturday 5 July.

Hope explosionIt features a presentation from Saltmine Theatre Company, a celebration of primary school talent with school choirs from across Shropshire, evangelist Eric Delve, Youth for Christ and launch of the Shropshire Hope Community Youth Award programme – an innovative scheme to acknowledge the work of senior schools, youth groups and other young people’s organisations in the community.

The event is a part of a year-long series of activities designed to share the love of Jesus across the county as part of Shropshire Hope 14, which has been backed prayerfully, practically and financially by all the main denominational leaders (the Heart of England Baptist Association has contributed a grant of £3,000).

One of the main organisers is Stephen Derges, Pastor of Bridgnorth Baptist Church.

He said, ‘Shropshire Hope 2014 is the culmination of a vision many of us have had to bring local churches together and celebrate both our faith and recognise some of the amazing talent we have in the county.

‘Despite the way the Christian faith is often portrayed in the media, we believe it is still active and alive and relevant to everyone.’

Hope 14 is a national initiative to inform and inspire people about Christianity and provide practical expressions of faith, and many events are taking place elsewhere.

Churches in Brighton and Hove have organised a week-long series of activities (2-7 July) to bring ‘bring life and light to our city’, including painting, decorating, gardening, driving, praying, and children’s work. Already more than 150 people had signed up, donating around 1500 hours throughout the week.

Holland Road Baptist Church is right at the heart of it, and Associate minister Tim Vellacott said it was all about helping people discover Jesus.

‘Jesus said “if you want to know true life, come to me.” And it’s that true life that we want people to discover - both through our words as we tell them about the amazing good news of Jesus, but also our actions, that Jesus is real, he transforms and changes people’s lives. That’s what Hope is all about - partnering with other churches, serving our city, so that people discover the amazing good news of Jesus Christ.’

In Eastleigh, Hampshire, 14 churches have teamed up for a week of social action and outreach (7-11 July). An envisioning day was hosted at Eastleigh Baptist Church on 14 June. A range of events have been organised in Huddersfield throughout the year, some of which will link to the Tour de France, which beings in Yorkshire next week.

And of course, many events have already taken place. Churches in Devonport, Plymouth hosted their first ever missions week last month, which saw quiz nights, music nights fun days, joint services and the launch of a new toddler group and Messy Church. Until this year the churches had never even had a joint prayer meeting.

‘It has been a really awesome week of working and sharing together,’ said Devonport Community Baptist Church minister Michael Shaw. ‘In the process God has started to move, there have been commitments, recommitments, prayer ministry and also lots of fun together.’

A similar message was shared by Jon Grant, minister of Higham Way Baptist Church. Churches in Hinckley and Burbage in Leicestershire have teamed to run a range of Hope events throughout the year, including various courses at the beginning of the year (Jon's church ran a parenting course for the mother and toddler group); a 24/7 prayer initiative took place last weekend, while a World Cup game with a hog roast will be shown at a local school this Sunday.

A major youth event - where free activities will be put on around Hinckley and Burbage - is planned for September.

'When I came here 20 months ago there wasn't a lot going on ecumenically,' said Jon, 'but Hope has really brought the churches together. It's very positive.' 
Baptist Times, 26/06/2014
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