“We are pleased to announce the arrival of a new church in Angus. Grace Church was born on 1st November 2015, at 11am in the Scout Jubilee Hall, Montrose. Weighing in at 50 people it is hoped that she will grow in such a way that Christ will be her, so that his name may be glorified”
The Birth of a New Church
Yesterday yours truly and David Meredith drove up the coast road from Dundee to Montrose, to participate in the birth of a new church, Grace Church, Montrose. It was a beautiful drive in the glorious Angus sunshine, with the colours of autumn still magnificent. We did not really know what to expect and so it was with a mixture of apprehension and excitement that we found our way to the Scott Jubilee Hall in the centre of the town.
It was a wonderful morning. The folks in Montrose have leased the hall (which is largely used for guides and scouts) for six months and they have repainted it, and done the garden, planting new plants and removing weeds (somewhat apposite for a new church!). When we went in there were already some men setting out chairs, preparing the praise and the usual things associated with organizing a service. What struck both of us was not just the organization but also the prayer. On a couple of couches there were five women who were sitting and praying. Somehow you know that when people are praying in such a natural and open way, things are going to be ok.
The service itself was encouraging – with 52 people (including five children and several visitors from Aberdeen, Forfar and Dundee – although the vast majority were from Montrose). It was relaxed and reverent, joyful and expectant. The praise was simple and well led – even including an acapella psalm – which was new for most of the people present. David Meredith preached an excellent sermon on Nehemiah 2:20, ‘the God of Heaven will give us success” . It was biblical, passionate, contemporary, connected and clearly Gods Word for us. A model of what we are looking for in Grace Church. It was also full of Meredith one liners..”Dreamers who get things done have plans. …..you are not a leader if no one follows……Paul went from being lone ranger to team player…..as Chalmers said, no matter how large your vision is, its too small”
Afterwards there was a buffet lunch that most people stayed for. There was a general spirit of thankfulness and encouragement. It was a good beginning. I was so impressed with the core group – as I looked round I got the sense of a people who were enjoying being released from a tough time and all the hassles caused by church politics, into a new lease of life and freedom. I was so encouraged by their enthusiasm, commitment and their own encouragement. And for me it was very moving. A number of years ago we tried to help Donny and Cathy Gillies start a new church in the St Cyrus/Montrose area. For various reasons it did not work out but I cannot help but feel that their hard work helped sow the seed and prepare the ground until what seems like a more opportune time.
We know that planting a church, and growing a church is never easy. It is as Paul says like childbirth (Galatian 4:19) until ‘Christ is formed in you’. But in a day of great confusion and discouragement in Scotland, it was wonderful to be in at the birth of this new congregation. As we drove back through Angus our minds turned to Arbroath, Brechin, Forfar, Blairgowrie, Alyth and other towns in this needy area of Scotland. We also visited the Charleston area of Dundee and dreamed of a church there, and in the other large housing schemes of our cities. Why not? Its time to move away from the stale denominational church politics of the 20th Century and seize the opportunities the Lord has given us in Scotland today.
It was good to come to St Peters and share Gods word with the people here last night. The praise was excellent and my night was made complete when I was introduced to a young male student who had just become a Christian this week! (he comes from an area where David and myself had also been talking about planting a new church there). Then I heard of a Chinese student being converted, and of Andy Longwe being inducted to Cumbernauld as the new FC minister there….. And its not just about the Free Church…..a friend from Grace Church in Menzieshill told me that they had a wonderful gospel morning, and I know that many of our students were at Central Baptist rejoicing with some of their friends being baptized in the morning. We rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn. Its time for the Lords people to unite, to cease our denominational rivalries based upon secondary issues and even more secondary cultures and personalities. Its time for us to end associations with those who promote idolatry, distort the Bible and turn the Good News into distilled poison. All gospel minded Christians will rejoice in the formation at a new gospel centred church in Montrose….and all of us should look for many more throughout our land. It is my prayer that the Free Church will be a part of such a new movement of the Lord in Scotland. May we hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
Why not pay Grace Church Montrose a visit – they meet on Sundays at 11 (except on the 29th of November when it will be at 6pm), in the Scott Jubilee Hall (opposite Montrose Academy). You would be very welcome.