'Generations' was the theme of the day on Sunday 29th March, as we all met at Central Hall for a special service to celebrate our church's 40th anniversary.
With a medley of worship songs from the previous four decades, we joined together to praise God for his unchanging faithfulness and goodness to us throughout the years. Past church members joined our present church community to mark this special occasion.
As the children enjoyed a praise party led by Duggie Dug Dug in the small hall, Billy Kennedy spoke in the main hall.
Looking back over the church's 40-year history, Billy reflected on how each generation has built on the foundations laid by the generations before. As part of honouring the work of those who were involved in the start of the church and its early growth, Billy paid tribute to the valuable contribution made by Tony Morton and Hannah Strutt, recognising their inspirational and sacrificial leadership over 25 years, and presenting Hannah with a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion.
Billy spoke about the impact of the church on the wider community - its partnerships with other local, national and international churches; the Pioneer network of churches; links with the Methodists; the development of the Ignite course and of the School of Ministries; the New Community Kibera project; The Hope School; and so much more. Throughout the years and in all of this, we have seen again and again that God is faithful to his promises. We have also seen the importance of each generation having its own encounter with God, receiving the promises for themselves.
Looking ahead to the future, Billy described a recent trip by some of the church's children to Le Vay (our property in France), where they planted a tree; a symbolic act that represents belief and hope in a future - the planting of something that future generations would benefit from.
As we looked to the future, we considered our church's 3-part mission statement: to build community, make disciples and mobilise people. We want to see lives changed and communities transformed, with Jesus central to all we do.
Billy explained that 'our generation' was made up of everyone who was alive at this time, and that all ages were valued. Four people were invited to join Billy on the stage, representing different ages across the church; a visual representation of 'our generation'. It was inspiring to hear each of these people pray in turn for our church and the future.
The service contained much more, including words from God about God smiling down on us, and about us receiving the oil of gladness. There was also plenty of time to catch up with friends over a cup of coffee before and after the service, providing a chance to reconnect with friends who had been part of the church community in the past.
All in all, our Sunday morning celebration was a special time of thanksgiving for the journey God has taken taken us on so far, and an opportunity to unite together to dedicate again the future decades of our church to Him.