News and Articles
29 August 2016
Tim Sutton is about to leave Above Bar Church to be minister of Westward Ho! Baptist Church. We asked him to reflect on his time here.
I first heard about Above Bar Church as I was growing up in Devon. Some people who joined our church had been at Above Bar, and they were always talking about what a great church it was. To be honest, all that Above Bar stuff sometimes annoyed me. So what a surprise to find myself all those years later, serving as one of the ministers of the church and being forced to agree that Above Bar is indeed a very, very special church. And then in another strange twist, what a further surprise to find myself recently called to become the pastor of my old ‘home church’ back in Devon.
And so it is that, in early September, Annemarij and I move to Westward Ho!, after just over three years serving at Above Bar Church. We are sad to say goodbye to so many good people and such a great church. But we are excited about this new season of life ministry in Devon.
For me Above Bar Church is a very special place because of:
- the combination of faithfulness to the Bible, visionary leadership, vibrant and contemporary sung worship, caring community, prayerfulness, and a heart for social justice, evangelism, and global mission.
- the unity and healthy relationships in the staff and leadership teams, and wider congregation.
- the commitment of so many people to giving their best to Jesus and the gospel.
Let me give a brief example of that last point. It’s the last Thursday of the month, so that means it’s Mission Personnel Support Group (MPSG) evening – usually held at Val Sewell’s house. And from 7.30 – 10.00 pm, nine or ten people gather to talk about the latest news and needs of our fifteen sets of Sent Mission Partners (SMPs). There is heartfelt discussion and prayer, and decisions are made regarding how best to support the work of these SMPs. This happens month in, month out – with reviews and debriefs in between. The first MPSG meeting I attended actually left me tearful and speechless! I’d never seen such behind-the-scenes commitment from church members to the work of global mission.
Over the past few years, I’ve seen one demonstration after another of that kind of commitment in all the different areas of church life. So many volunteers giving their best for Jesus and the gospel.
On the Devon coastal path, there are spots along the way where you can sit down and enjoy the view of the rugged coast and pounding waves of the Atlantic Ocean: God’s handiwork. Above Bar Church has really changed my mind about what Church can be. This is God’s handiwork: Jesus building his church. And as you continue to ‘give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 15:58), I pray you’ll also often find time to ‘be still and know that [He is] God’ (Psalm 46:10) – to sit down and enjoy the view.
Annemarij and I hope we can keep many of you as friends in the years to come. And we ask for your earnest prayers for another special place – for Westward Ho! Baptist Church. Not for it to become another Above Bar, but that the Lord would uniquely bless, encourage and grow it to his own glory and the good of many in Torridge area and beyond.
Thank you so much for having us. We will miss you.