Church Plant Update
Dennistoun Baptist Church - January 2017
For anyone that says that miracles don’t happen today, I would urge you to join us at Dennistoun Baptist Church one Sunday and witness what God is doing in the heart of the East End. I have attended the church for the last 6 years, a mere fraction of time in comparison with some of the ‘ladies’ who have attended this church for many years, for some - too many to count. The original members started by attending Sunday school when it was the popular thing to do, seeing their family grow up in the church and eventually leave to build homes and families of their own. Having friends and loved ones pass away or move on in one way or another has not prevented these faithful believers from their steady determination and commitment to continue to worship God in this wee church building, AKA ‘little house on the Prairie’ due to it’s American mid- west appearance (well in my mind anyway!).
The original Dennistoun Baptist Church was formed in 1851 and for many years was a large and strong congregation, however it’s more recent history has been one of gradual decline for a number of reasons and it seemed only a matter of time that the church would be closed for ever. Attending on a Sunday, one could often feel a tangible sense of despair regarding the low numbers present and the lack of consistent leadership. The small group of elderly believers felt quite vulnerable and despite their sometimes fighting talk, no one could deny that some weeks it was just hard. Hard to believe that there could be enough resource to employ a full time minister, hard to envisage families and young people coming back to the church and wanting to become part of the church family, hard to imagine children again coming to Sunday club, or the ‘Buds’ as it had been known, hard to believe that other believers existed out there…..all these things often clouded reality. The church seemed stuck in a catch 22 situation, no leadership to attract new members and no new members to support a full time minister or leadership team. There was no easy solution for this one…
But walking into DBC today, just over one year later, the picture is very different. The ladies are still there and are as friendly as ever, however there are now new families with young children, a ‘Sunday club’, a worship team and even a full time minister. The congregation ranges widely in age with the youngest being 2 weeks old and the oldest nearly 90. On a Tuesday the church runs an ESOL class catering for refugees and immigrants to help them improve their English and provide support and demonstrate God’s immeasurable love for them in other practical ways. In addition a regular prayer meeting and two missional communities are now thriving as part of the outreach of the church. Food is also a central part of this work, with regular church lunches held, a free lunch for the ESOL class and plenty of tea and biscuits dished out after the service. I had to confess later that this was a key attraction for me in the beginning, however I soon realised that the faithfulness of the congregation was something quite remarkable, and quite in contrast to the type of society we live in today.
It would be too long a story to explain how the Rev Mark Morris and his wife Pauline came to be in ministry at DBC, however it did, unsurprisingly, involve prayer and trusting in God. The Baptist Union of Scotland and Calderwood Baptist Church played a crucial role in providing the resources to enable Mark and Pauline to come. In addition, some key people sent by God, (Andrew and Shirley McKendry) provided the necessary link between the two churches. Witnessing the turn around has helped me to see how God is busy working miracles before our very eyes, doing ‘exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think’ (Eph 3 v 20) DBC is a constant reminder to me of God’s goodness and faithfulness!