I said there were two sides to my Arbury Rd. visit. It's odd how many memories came back about my father's leadership which had lain without much reflection for years. I guess for most young people reflection is not a strong suite! In talking with my younger brother it was revealing how little we thought about his ministry back then, even though we are both ministers now. But now, several times we both used the word courage and expressed deep gratitude for what we hadn't thought about enough! My brother wrote out some thoughts which I shared at the lunch afterwards. Let me highlight some:
- Early on he pioneered the All Age Sunday School when the entire church met for worship first and then everyone went into age-related classes all over the building. Though he could be suspicious of American ideas he took this revolutionary project and ran with it as one of the first Baptist churches in the UK. At first, he only had a slight majority of the church meeting in favour but how glorious it turned out to be.
- He was actually called to the church with responsibility for building a new church. That took courage with plenty of persistence and prayer too. His direct appeal for funds especially when there was a crisis showed great moral courage. Apparently, on one occasion there was an industrial dispute and the builders laid down their tools. My father climbed up to where they had finished laying bricks and started to lay them himself. The builders were horrified and were shamed back to work. (I like that story but I am not sure if it happened just like that!)
- Another memorable project involved the Radwinter Hut story of near death. Needing accommodation, we went to Radwinter (where Dad had contacts) and took down a hut methodically numbering its parts. Loading it onto a lorry we thought it was properly secured when suddenly it crashed down narrowly missing some of us. Re-erecting it on the church site was immense fun bringing many of us together. And it proved very useful in the years ahead.
- Later when he was appointed President of the Cambridge Association of Churches he and my mother took a caravan and stayed with every village chapel in order to give encouragement. It was Winter time and I think I remember a picture of them in the snow in a field seeking to enthuse the churches.