My name is Ben Midgley and I was called here as Pastor to NBBC with Sian my wife, and our four children in January 2007 from Wales, having recently finished studies at the London Theological Seminary.
Previously I had been involved in a business management career, though my actual degree was in Fine Art from Southampton. Originally from London, I came to faith in Jesus in the late 80’s through friends at University.
I have been greatly encouraged and privileged in the work here, and had the joy of seeing people come to faith, be baptised, join the Church, share communion, grow in service, rise to lead, and also go with confidence to meet their God.
Leading the Church however, is never the work of only one person. I am a firm believer in the Biblical model of leadership that involves the whole membership in decision making, and which trains, seeks out, and recognises, other Elders and Deacons to help direct and manage the whole business of Church life. I am very thankful that the Lord has placed gifted people around me here in the membership who challenge, and encourage me, and take a significant share the work.
Our Elders are:
Walter Burgess, is an able speaker himself who liaises with our Deaconate. Walter is supported by his wife Jane.
Richard Haddow, is Church Secretary and runs many of our Christianity Explored , Discipleship Explored and CAP courses, he is supported by his wife Catherine and their children. Catherine is involved in women’s ministry.
Our Deacons are:
Rachel Martin, who oversees the Church’s general housekeeping. Rachel is also involved in a compassion ministry in Bulgaria which we support too.
Roy Illott, a chartered surveyor, who is responsible for the Church’s buildings, with the support of his wife Sandy.
Gwen Kearley, who oversees children and families work. Gwen works helping Churches develop children’s work full time and is also set apart one day a week by us to work in local schools to bring the message of Jesus to the classroom.
Glyn Coy, is a Trustee and our treasurer, and also an active service leader and member of the music team alongside his son. Glyn is married to Daniela and they have three kids.
Chris Morgan is neither an elder nor Deacon, but is an evangelist whose outreach work we support as a Church. Chris does open air work in City Centres, as well as more locally and door to door work. Chris’ wife Paula plays flute in the music group.
This is just a snapshot – one body, many parts.
The evening’s prayer meeting was divided between praying for each others’ needs, and the Bible study.
The study focused on the FIEC’s statement on women in Ministry:
1. The issues affect us all, and has to be dealt with sensitively not just because of the political climate, but because these issues deal with people’s lives, hopes, and experiences. We want to build people up in the faith, not bulldoze people down in our ignorance.
2. The study is a Bible study, and as such is a precious opportunity to spend time together looking at the word of God, and learning together as a Church. The study is very well laid out for any group or individual to follow through and is a very good spring board for any discipleship session.
3. We here at NBBC are working on renewing our own corporate constitution, and that involves going over our own definitions of what we understand by Biblical leadership. It is also important as an FIEC affiliated Church that we are in step with the position taken by the body we associate with.
So far, during the evening we dealt with the introduction which strongly asserts the essential equality of men and women in creation and redemption. We then went on to do the first study in 1st Timothy, looking at the struggle that Church was going through to adopt a God honouring leadership model, and how the conclusions they came to speak to us today.
At the church we hold a youth club on Friday nights called Signposts for kids aged 4-9.
The poster below will give you a flavour of what happens at the club. The club is held in the church hall unless otherwise indicated. For further info please feel free to get in touch – you’d be very welcome to join us!
We start now at 6:00 not 6:30 and finish at 7:00, not 7:30!!!
November 5th is the Anniversary of the Church’s founding in 1775, it is also, which goes without saying, an important commemoration in British history. The consequence is that we usually have a bonfire and BBQ here for anyone and everyone who turns up, sometimes that’s a couple of hundred.
Recently the bonfires have been themed – one year a pirate ship, the next a castle, it’s a lot of fun, and all sorts of people get involved. This year we will have to see what happens but we are looking forward to it.
Usually a guest speaker is invited for the Sunday nearest the date, and this year John Edmonds who is the new Pastor at Freshbrook Evangelical Church, Swindon is visiting us.
It has also become our policy to give the offerings given on that day to mission societies we are supporting. Last year we sent gifts to help Church planting among the Vietnamese in London, Bible translation in the Philippines, and Borneo, and Evangelism here in the UK.
Earlier this year, after much discussion, it was decided to carpet the main auditorium and take the pews from their fixed positions and move them to the perimeter of the room.
This step has made a huge impact on the way we use the space, and how it feels. Obviously it is much more versatile now, and youth club, meals, coffee morning etc. can take place with much greater ease, but our worship and prayer meetings have benefited too.
The general impression is that it has helped us move on from those unhelpful traditions that do not have their roots in any Biblical grounding that so easily attach themselves to groups over the years.
Members and friends worked and gave sacrificially to help do the work and finance it, and we are so thankful. New chairs are on order and we look forward to their arrival.
One of the unusual things about a congregation like ours is that despite worshiping in a modern building dating from the 60’s, our congregation actually dates back into the 1770’s.
Set back from the road, a number of people don’t realise, we have have a cemetery. It’s on that site that the original building stood.
In this atmospheric photo of the oldest part of the plot, taken a couple of years ago, you can see the tomb of George Batchelor on the left, who was the founder member. There are numerous publications on the history of the Church here, and the area which has a significant non-conformist heritage.
Numbers of people come by each year to trace ancestors for family trees. The place is a tranquil spot, and there are many interesting inscriptions on the stones.
Visitors are asked to remember of course that the cemetery is still in use, and is special place.
Wiltshire County Council has quite a good page on their history site about us. Also, there is the main resource book for history of the Baptists in this area called ‘Twenty Golden Candlesticks’, by William Doel. As the book only went up to the late 1800’s, Andrew Jones, a deacon at Zion Baptist Church in Trowbridge wrote a sequel ‘Twenty Golden Candlesticks revisited’ bringing the story up to date. Ben was very honoured to be asked to write the forward to that book.
The morning service focused on the importance of both diversity and unity. Gospel unity, and personal diversity.
Reading from the book of Joshua, chapter 1 we saw how God promised to be as much with Moses and He was with Joshua. The disciples of Jesus hundreds of years later had the same promise, as do we. Even though we are all different, we can all know God.
The younger children looked at this further from 1st Corinthians 12.12 and Paul’s image of the Church as a body, made up of different parts. The rest of us began looking at Acts 13.1-3, focusing on vs 1, seeing how diverse the leadership team at Antioch was, yet how effective.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean suppressing your personality, on the contrary, it is crucial to the overall vividness of the witness of the Church to the unique person of God’s Son.
Click on the following link to hear the morning’s messages: Leaders.
In the evening service we looked into Exodus 20:18-26, the post-script to the ten commandments. In those lines we saw, if you will, an eleventh and most precious commandment – to build an Altar, a place of sacrifice, a place of worship, a place of blessing, and meeting with God.
Through this we considered how unable we are to give God the perfect obedience the ten commandments deserve, but that through the eleventh – sacrifice, and ultimately and gloriously the sacrifice Jesus, God’s Son, we can know fellowship and acceptance from God.
You can listen to the evening message here – Sacrifice.