Going back to Mum for Mothering Sunday
Baptist church with rich church planting history gathers "offspring" as part of anniversary celebrations
Abbey Baptist Church in Reading, which was formerly known as Kings Road, was founded in 1640 and is celebrating its 375th anniversary this year with several special events.
The first was held on Mothering Sunday. The church has a long and rich heritage of church planting having directly planted 21 other Baptist churches, and invited representatives of all its daughter and granddaughter churches to come for a tea followed by a service of thanksgiving and celebration.
Each apple represents a different church descended from Abbey Baptist - all fruit from the same vine
The theme of the service was John 15: 5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (NRSV).
Within the service some of the other churches represented told what they were doing and how God was active in the lives of their fellowships as they seek to make Christ known in their communities. After the sermon those in attendance were invited to place an apple, each representing a different church, on a large picture of a tree to emphasise that we are fruit of the same vine.
'We were very keen to acknowledge the amazing work that God has done through the Baptist Church in Reading and that would not be complete without celebrating with our family,' explained the Revd Paul Burnish, Minister of Abbey Baptist Church.
'It is amazing to think that through the faithful response of our forebears thousands of lives have been touched and thousands of people have come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
'However, we were very keen for this not to just be an event about history but to use it as an inspiration for the future. Our forebears were faithful and so must we be.
'We cannot ‘drop the ball’ in our generation we must abide in Christ and do what he would have us do drawing on the deep roots of Christ and allowing the Spirit to flow in and through us so we will continue to bear fruit.'
The stories from the churches served as an inspiration, with Mrs Jean Sheppard, an elder at Abbey Baptist Church, remarking, 'It was encouraging to hear how enthusiastic the other churches were about all that they are faithfully doing to tell others about Jesus.'