Showing posts from June, 2005

Last baptism service

I just conducted my last baptism service. As you'll imagine, it was a bittersweet experience for me. I hope it was all sweet for the folks who were baptised! A brother and sister (children of one of our deacons); one at school, the other at University. Then a mother and daughter. The daughter is in her twenties, and her mother has MS, so was baptised by effusion (lots of water) in her wheelchair at the edge of the pool. Our sister church in Flint held a baptism service this morning, too, when five youngsters were baptised, and this comes at the end of an academic year when lots of youngsters across North Wales have come to faith in Jesus Christ and come into membership in our (AECW) churches. It's a wonderful thing to see. I think of God's grace to our rotten land, and of those future church leaders who are among them, and the others who will hear the gospel through them. The church was absolutely full. Absolutely full. I'm not brilliant at keeping my emotions in check.

Send your pastor far, far away

was the title they used for this article in Evangelicals Now.'Send-your-pastor-into-cross-cultural-mission-they-said.htm
Calvary Evangelical Church, PenyBryn, has an ex-missionary as its pastor. He served with EMF in the Republic of Ireland.
This is Cardiff City Hall. The red dragon symbol of Wales (y Ddraig Goch) has been used since the Roman occupation of Britain. They used a "draco" as a standard in battle.
Sion Baptist Church is in Maerdy, at the top of the Rhondda valley where I grew up. I have known their pastor since I first became a Christian in 1978 - and he STILL invited me to speak about the work in France. How gracious is that!
This is Emmanuel Baptist Church, Gabalfa in Cardiff, where I worshipped from 1982 to 1991. I visited the church on Wednesday 15 June to speak about the work in France and to enlist their help!

House sale technicalities

A cautionary tale! After Catrin was born we decided that I could not longer use our great big main bedroom as my study because the children would need a bedroom each. So we replaced the garage door with a window and personal door, and plastered the walls and put in a ceiling. Before doing it I contacted the council to see if we needed planning permission. No they said. End of story. Not quite. Solicitors are more cautions than they used to be, so they wrote to me telling me that I needed planning permission, building regs approval and permission for change of use to use the garage as a study. "No I don't - the council told me" Then you need a letter, they said. I phoned the council. They said to get a letter I needed to fill in a form (enquiries prior to planning?) and I would get an answer in 4 - 6 weeks. The form was really funny. It asked for a sketch of your house, showing the new structures you were proposing to build. My form showed no new structures at all. Well, w
The foyer at St Vincent St Free Church in Glasgow ( An amazing building and a very welcoming group of people.
A splendid French tea at Strathaven Evangelical Church, near Glasgow.
St Columba Church of Scotland in Kilmacolm, before the morning service.
Newton-Mearns Baptist Church, in a dormitory town for Glasgow
Greyfriars Free Church (, in a suburb of Inverness.
Smithton-Culloden Free Church ( in a suburb of Inverness.
This Highlander recounted the story of Culloden at Smithon-Culloden Free Church's lunch club.
Waiting to board the ferry to Ullapool.
Knock Church of Scotland at Garrabost near Stornoway. These communities are very spread out and cover a wide area.
Seabirds abound in the islands.
Barvas Church of Scotland. It was here that the Lewis revival began under Duncan Campbell's ministry.
The broch on Lewis - a sort of fortress cum farmhouse. Very splendid.
St Columba's CofS, Stornoway, where we were on the Sunday morning.
Back Free Church ( where we met with friends "old and new". In fact this is the back of Back Free Church. The front looks more impressive.
Carinish Church of Scotland, North Uist. We met with CofS and Free Church people in the fine hall behind the building. The meeting closed with a Gaelic psalm - unforgettable.

Scotland deputation trip

I have just returned from the trip. which took almost a fortnight and began and ended in Glasgow. From there we (myself and Iain Cameron, the UFM Scottish Secretary) travelled to Kyle of Lochalsh, then via Skye and the Uig - Lochmaddy ferry to North Uist. Then on the Berneray - Leverburgh ferry to Harris and so to Lewis. Then Stornoway - Ullapool and down to Inverness. Then through the Great Glen back to Glasgow. The ferry company's website has maps . In 13 days we spoke at 13 different churches. I'll post some photographs for you to see.

The last Sunday in Scotland

Today was a really full day! In the morning at St Columba CofS in Kilmacolm, where Iain interviewed me to highlight the needs of France. Then lunch at the minister, Revd Douglas Cranston's house. Scotland has GOOD SALMON and good conversation. Then down to Strathaven for a great French tea before the evening service. Some folks immediately volunteered to go out to Bordeaux to do some practical work at the Student Centre, and there were a super couple who met in Lyons where she was working with the Irish Baptist Mission. They helped me tremendously by confirming all my shocking statistics about Christian witness in France. Then into Glasgow to the amazing St Vincent St Free Church. What a building! We met in the basement with a very wise and interested group of people. They asked some super questions about Christian work in France and their minister, Revd Colin Dow, immediately put our leaflet on their notice board! He showed us

Newton Mearns Baptist Church

Up early to get to Newton Mearns, a prosperous suburb of Glasgow, in time for a prayer breakfast at the Baptist Church. Another splendid building, where we chatted happily through a super breakfast (my first bacon roll in a long time), then did the France presentation. The folks were friendly and responsive, and then I wandered Kilmacolm until the evening when we had something of a Bordeaux summer-team reunion over a Chinese takeaway.

Farewell to Inverness!

First I was sad to leave North Uist. Then I was sad to leave Lewis. Now I was sad to leave Inverness. Still, the weather was good, and all I had to do today was to drive Iain Cameron's car to Kilmacolm near Glasgow. Iain had given me good directions down the A9 to Perth and so to Glasgow but I decided to go down the A82 alongside Loch Ness, down the Great Glen and past Loch Lomond. This time I saw the views. Stunning! I didn't stop to photograph the views very often because in many of the laybys you find pipers busking. They are very picturesque in their kilts. So many different tartans on one person! Amazing. Then you open the car door and the NOISE HITS YOU.

Inverness day 3

Inverness is a very pleasant city with lots of supermarkets outside town, and all the usual shops in town. Leaky's is an old church converted to a second-hand book shop, with a smart coffee shop upstairs and a massive wood-burning stove in the middle. Good for a cup of coffee, but I was still struggling a bit, so I got a bottle of sludge from M&S instead. Then down to Loch Ness. I didn't see the monster (Nessie), but I saw the Loch Ness duck (Duckie), and the Loch Ness deer (Bambi). In the evening at Greyfriars Free Church. Another splendid (timber-framed) building with fine people. Revd John Ross (ex-CWI) is the minister, but he was on holiday so we didn't meet. He is doing a fine work there, with many youngsters and mums & tots meeting weekly in addition to the Sunday meetings.

Inverness day 2

I planned to visit Inverness and then to do Loch Ness - but after I had done some photocopying at the church I couldn't be bothered with sightseeing, so I spent some time browsing round Borders bookshop, then went back to the house for a nap! Sorry! The thing is, it hardly gets dark at all in Scotland this time of year, especially in Stornoway. I am told it's not easy to read outdoors at 2:30am... And Scots people go to bed REALLY LATE, so by now I was pretty tired. Anyway, excuses over. This evening at Smithton-Culloden Free Church in Inverness. It's a fine building with a church office that is staffed most days and also with the office for the Free Church youth camps. The people there were friendly, warm and responsive, especially Johnathan - a young man from America currently working as the church's full-time youth worker. Tomorrow I promise I will go and see Loch Ness...

And on to Inverness

This morning was beautiful in Stornoway. The harbour was still and the sun bright making lovely reflections as we rose at 5:30 to get ready for the early ferry to Ullapool. We had a splendid crossing - a bit of roly-poly as we crossed the Minch, but then a super cruise up the loch to Ullapool watching the porpoises play. En route we read and talked about the "Abrege de la discipline" of the Eglise Reformee Evangelique Independante - extracts from the Floirac church's constitution. From Ullapool we had a dash down to Inverness where Iain had to catch the train to go down to the UFM Council Conference at Melton Mowbray. The plan was that we would locate Revd David Meredith's house then drive to the station, then later I would return alone to the manse. David foiled our little plan by seeing us, getting us in for coffee, then driving us to the station. Then off to the church for a pensioners' lunch club where David interviewed me before a splendid fellow in plaid rec

Knock CofS, Garrabost

On Monday we had a quiet day, first scuttling out to Butt of Lewis, then scouting round the shops in Stornoway. Butt of Lewis is a rocky crag of cliffs with a lighthouse and views of the extreme north-west of the Scottish mainland. We watched some seals in the sea and ducked as the seagulls soared over the cliffs. All very beautiful. We spent a little time in a kilt shop, where I once more rejoiced at being Welsh. In the evening we spoke at Knock CofS where we enjoyed meeting with the people, though their minister was recovering from minor surgery. Two insignificant things to note about the Lewis churches - one thing is the flock wallpaper that they often have on the pulpit wall. It's the kind of paper that Indian restaurants sometimes have. The other is the sheer size of the buildings. They are vast airy buildings. The airiness makes them nice and light, but apparently in places there is a draught that will turn the pages of your Bible. Somewhat more significant - these people sin

Sunday 5 June

The morning found us at St Columba's CofS in Stornoway, where Iain introduced the mission and I preached. At the end of the meeting we had to get quickly to the door where we greeted people as they left. Then the minister Revd Dr Angus Morrison had to get quickly next door to conduct the Gaelic service in the adjoining Gaelic church. For lunch we went to the High Church in Stornoway to meet up with the minister, Revd Willie Black, a former OMF missionary to Korea, and a team of Americans who had been helping in evangelism. Then to Barvas church for the evening. This church was the focus of the Lewis revival in the 1950s under the ministry of Duncan Campbell, and it was fascinating to meet with the people there. The Lewis churches often have a lovely view and you leave the building to be greeted by stunning beauty all around. After the service, the Barvas minister, Revd Tommy Macneil, was taking a group of his young people down to a joint youth meeting in Stornoway where a Scottish

Back Free Church

Today (Saturday) we did some of the tourist things, visiting the standing stones at Callanish, and the Broch - an ancient fortified farmhouse that had splendid views out over the islands. I was struck by the number of fish-farms on the lochs, and also by the huge number of timber framed houses that you could see. You get to be able to spot them. We also saw some newly built timber-framed churches belonging to the Free Church (Continuing). In the evening we spoke at Back Free Church ( where a good number met and we met up with an old friend - the man from the ferry and from the meeting at Carinish. Back Church has another "old friend", Revd Dr Iain D Campbell as its minister. We had heard him speak at the Banner of Truth conference at Leicester, when he spoke about John MacDonald (known as the apostle of the North). At North Uist and on Lewis you often hear people speaking together in Gaelic. Like Welsh, Gaelic is a celtic language, and there are some

Crossing to Lewis

We crossed to Lewis on the Berneray - Leverburgh ferry - a lovely smooth crossing on this strange ferry that weaves its way back and forth through the rocky strait between the Uists and Harris/Lewis. It was a super crossing, and the weather was becoming dry. On the ferry was a man who we had met at the meeting at Carinish. He was crossing to Lewis with his wife, and he had waved at us on the road heading for the ferry as he was loading up his car. There was no meeting arranged for the evening (phew!) so we sat and talked with our hosts and a friend of theirs, a gifted young schoolteacher. It was a good introduction to Lewis life.

North Uist

We crossed the Skye bridge and drove to Uig for the ferry to Lochmaddy on North Uist. The ferry had a screen that showed the rocks and reefs as you entered Lochmaddy harbour, and it looked pretty unlikely that the huge ferry would make it into the tiny harbour! We were staying with a faithful UFM supporter, and in the evening we spoke at Carinish, again at a Church of Scotland but with a good number of people gathered from CofS and Free Church all over the island. It was so good to meet with them, and they concluded the meeting by singing part of Psalm 23 in Gaelic. If you have never heard Gaelic psalm singing I recommend that you visit to find out more about it. North Uist is a low-lying island with no trees for shelter, and with houses dotted here and there, many of them timber framed "kit houses". Early this year there was a terrible hurricane that claimed the life of a whole family when their car was washed away. The island has a fascinating be

Kyle of Lochalsh

We travelled through the rain to Kyle of Lochalsh where we met with Church of Scotland and Free Church people. Kyle is a beautiful place and the people are gentle, gracious and very hospitable. At our guest house the landlady was Free Church and the two other guests were from a Dutch reformed church, so we got bed, breakfast and fellowship. (Breakfast included my first salty porridge!)