During my first Advent and Christmas in Blackburn I attempted to publicize forthcoming services. My first New Year in ministry. I prepared a tri-fold leaflet using a wax stencil and Gestetner duplicator machine which required messy inking and hand cranking. (Anyone working in an office in the 70's will remember!) It's appearance was as amateur as you can imagine. On the front, using a stylus I drew a number of cartoon conversation bubbles with typed words - Something's happening on Sunday evenings. Where? At Leamington Road Baptist church 6:30 pm. What? Thought you'd never ask - see over.
Inside I have details of five upcoming Sunday evening services. Really - Sunday evening? Although these were by far the poorest attended they also gave immense scope for doing things differently. Many churches have found similar scope as evening congregations dwindled these last decades.
Foremost on the leaflet was my first Baptismal Service - 7th Jan.1973. In the morning 4 people were baptized and in the evening What this day means to me was a conscious effort to give the baptismal candidates plenty of time for each to speak about their faith. I have often described baptismal services has having multiple preachers for there is no more powerful witness than lips and heart at baptism. Pauline, Miriam, Andrew and Russell - two older ladies and two young people - were fellow preachers that day. Also, Paul Carter spoke about his Christian life as he also joined the church.
These names begin a glorious list which sums up the best part of my Baptist ministry. (I note in a recent publication on Baptist ministers in retirement that some pastors mention how baptisms in their ministries were the highlight too). How I treasure these names and rejoice that Paul became youth leader, deacon and still remains a key deacon in the church 48 years later.
I began to discover the unique evangelistic power of believers' baptisms which was to mark the rest of my ministry. When ordinary people say why they belong to Jesus for life they connect with seekers like no-one else. I was learning how God's kingdom grows.