Like to share some thoughts: How have you dealt with the current Lockdown. I’ve had plenty of time for prayer and reflection over my calling to Hockley Heath.

\If you’d like to share something send me an email and I’ll add it to this page


Faith Matters July 2020

My stepfather’s graveside funeral was held this time last week. Following a short stay in hospital, he was discharged to a local nursing home where he died less than four days later.

During the preceding week he and I had a particularly meaningful telephone conversation. He was bright, not in pain and, more than once, expressed that he was both comfortable and content. I confirmed that this was how he was coming across, which was, I said, an answer to my prayers, ‘…because I have been praying that you would know both contentment and assurance.’

‘That’s what I want – assurance,’ he said. ‘It’s as though I’m looking for something which I can’t quite get; like a bridge from here to heaven.’ He had been a most devout man all of his life, being thoroughly grounded in his religious tradition.

I told him that the bridge he was seeking was Jesus. ‘It’s Jesus who brings us to God.’ I then proceeded to remind him of a previous conversation when we had mentioned a portion from the New Testament, namely the Gospel of John, the opening verses of chapter 14, frequently read at funerals, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.…’

It is easy to miss an important point in this familiar quote: a general belief in God only takes us so far, it’s needful to actually trust Jesus who is the one who brings us to the true God.

I then quoted a famous verse, again from John, ‘God loved the world and so sent his Son, Jesus, so that whoever believes/trusts in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.’

I emphasised the word ‘trust’ so as to avoid the pitfall of imagining that ‘believe’ is just a mental acknowledgement that Jesus existed or exists. When a wife says that she believes in her husband, she doesn’t mean that she acknowledges that he exists! Rather, she gives him her trust.

My stepfather then said, ‘When it comes down to it, it’s all about faith isn’t it? That’s all we want; something simple. We talk about knowing God’s will, but we don’t really know what God’s will is. It needs to be simple.’

I agreed and then referred to another verse from John’s Gospel where the people ask Jesus what they must do in order to do the works (or will) of God. Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he sent [i.e. Jesus]’.

From the words he then spoke, it was plain that my stepfather very much valued these shared minutes, as indeed did I.

You may be reading this and thinking that it is inappropriate for me to share such personal things. I am convinced that during the recent months, many people, whether they consider themselves religious or not, will have been looking for strength and assurance. They will have discovered that neither those in places of power, nor those

in the field of science, are willing to give authoritative answers on matters of life and death. I believe that, in the name of the love of God, Christians are right to point to Jesus. This is because it is Jesus who is the only credible person that has ever claimed to have been given all authority which includes matters of life and death. Based on this, I am glad to be able to share with you the words ‘… trust in God, trust also in Jesus’.

Stephen Richards

Just some personal thoughts:

I transferred to (Umberslade Baptist Church) from Shirley some 22 years ago There was a need for help and myself and Beverly Horton responded to that call:

Since then the church has gone through many changes most significant of all was that from a morning service to an afternoon service. This was a convenience and allowed us to share the minister from Marston Green free church.

This arrangement has continued until the present day.

Having had time over the past few months to reflect more fully on the effect this has had on my personal life, and to more fully to understand how Sheila, has felt over these years, I realise the cost, and the loss to our family life. I still firmly believe that God called me to Hockley Heath, and have been privileged to share in worship with some wonderful people,

I believe that the challenge for our church will be made by returning to a restyled Sunday morning service. Leaving families free for Sunday lunch and the opportunity for family time, (something I have missed.)


Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some. ”When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

The disciples appeared fed up, and wanting something to do they looked back to the old ways. They were fishermen. So they went fishing!

Having persevered with fishing on the left side of the boat, with no success they were clearly about to give up. But hearing a voice

from the shore they were persuaded to fish on the other side! And the result was miraculous.

There comes a time when it’s time to accept that there are no fish on the left side and listen to the man on the shore who says it’s time to change! Cast your nets on the other side!It may be an effort to pull up the nets, and then re-cast them, It may hurt us or others, but as disciples of Christ we are called to Trust and Obey.

Since writing the above I have had chance to read Trevor Neill’s book “Bridging the Gap” and it has become abundantly clear that we have a gap between our worship on a Sunday Afternoon and the work we do during the week.

It is perhaps time to acknowledge that we are in fact a very small group and stop pretending that we can worship the way we did when we had a larger congregation. We ought also to recognise that with the exception of our four members everyone else who comes on a Sunday afternoon belongs to another church, and is therefore unlikely to commit to Hockley Heath.

Since our liaison with Trinity we have always worshipped in the afternoon, because this was convenient to Trinity. Although this has become ‘custom and practice’ there is nothing to stop us re-visiting this, and it should not become a blockage to our witness in Hockley Heath.

Although making the change to Sunday morning will not of itself increase our fellowship; it may well have the opposite effect;  but it will bring with it other possibilities. I will outline below how I would envisage things, and hopefully you will see what could be possible.

I said earlier that we need to bring our members closer to Hockley Heath.

So in order to restyle our worship on a Sunday Morning.

1st Sunday: Communion Breakfast.

2nd Sunday: Join with St. Thomas for a family service (No Communion on this Sunday)

3rd Sunday: ‘Sunday Lite’ (table top coffee service) extended to invite St. Thomas (after their service )to coffee.

4th Sunday: Songs of praise (Possible lay preacher)

5th Sunday: No service or open day.

This would bring us closer to the people we work with during the week and enable us to worship with them.

I continue to work from home supporting the church! There is still much to be done, and I will continue to meditate and pray, and hope that others will show some consideration for what I believe.

I will have more to say about the user groups and my discussions with them.


‘Spring Lane Baptist

With Streams of  Living Water”

July 2020