We were very sorry to hear of the passing of Lionel 'Rugie' Forbes at the end of June, after a long battle with cancer. Our thoughts & prayers go out to sister Lydia, brother Paul, Rugie's children and the rest of the family at this time.
Also, please pray for Liz, Anna & Jonathan Rajo, just returned from Madagascar, & planning to settle in the U.K., as they seek God's guidance for housing & schooling for the next few years, & Liz as she undertakes training to work with Wycliffe Bible Translators.
Randy's mum came from a Christian family but the 'Christianity' that was promoted seemed more of a cultural thing and the children attended church when their mum went but were not pressured into conforming or coming to faith.
At the age of nine Randy and his brothers (Nana, aged 13 and Gerald, five at the time) went into foster care: Randy and Gerald to one home and Nana to another (part of the time with Enid Parchment, one of our own members). After a while they began to have some contact time with their mum on Sundays which included occasionally coming to Summerstown Mission with her.
Randy left school at 16 and started attending college in Kingston. One day, on the way back on the bus, a friend asked him if he was a Christian. He answered 'yes' but later started to think why he had answered in that way and began to explore what it meant to be a Christian. He started attending Summerstown Mission more regularly, sometimes going into Sunday Club and other times staying in for the sermon and he became aware of people secure in their faith. He came to appreciate that being a Christian is not about good works or a parent's faith but about a personal relationship with God. He discovered Romans 10 v. 9 which says "if you confess with your mouth "Jesus is Lord" and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved". He did this but was not aware of any instant transformation: rather, over the course of time, has seen a gradual change and developing in his relationship with God. There have been times of feeling unworthy; of battles with sins; and of feeling frustrated having gone back into sinful ways - but he recognises that he has been chosen by God and that God has done so much for him. He knows God is real and that it would be impossible to live without Him.
In his first year at university, Randy attended the Christian Union from time to time and he became a committee member in his second year with the role of publicity and promotion of events. During that second year he was baptised at Summerstown Mission. He acknowledges that the CU was not as high a commitment as it could have been as he was also much involved with football and the activities of the physiotherapy cohort. However, his friends knew of his Christian faith and he has had opportunity to speak to them about Christ. He doesn't find it easy to bring up the subject but has noticed a repeating pattern whereby God has caused his friends to do the asking so that he has an open door and can speak naturally.
Randy has been involved in speaking at Family Focus on a Sunday morning, & helping out as a leader for the weekly 'Junior Focus' club, and is hoping to get more involved in other areas of Christian service - particularly to help young people on the estate opposite the church; maybe via Junior Focus, or possibly organising a sports club, and opening his home, too. He would also like to get involved with Sunday Club, helping with the teenagers on a Sunday morning.
We are delighted to welcome Randy into membership with us, & look forward to seeing how God will lead him as he makes himself available to serve his Saviour.
Junior Focus, on Monday nights, for kids age 8 - 14, continues to be a great opportunity & also a great challenge. Last year we posed the questions, 'Following Jesus - is it easy?' ('No'); 'Is it worth it?' ('Yes'), following the progress of the first disciples, & looking at modern-day Christians & the evidence of Christ in their lives.
We continued to chart the disciples' progress through the early chapters of Acts, specifically looking at the transformation of the Holy Spirit ('before/after'), followed by 'How come we've got the Bible?' & 'How did Christianity reach so far & last so long?', from the spread of the Gospel in later chapters of Acts.
Attendance was very good, with around 15-20 each week, who mostly mixed with each other very well, despite the wide age-range.
After the summer break, we looked at 'What is prayer, & how does it work?' with interviews / question & answer sessions, as well as examples from Scripture. Sadly, attendance dropped off significantly towards the end of the year, though many of our regulars frequently attend Messy Church, and five of our members have asked Jesus into their hearts, with two showing some spiritual growth. (One of these boys has since moved away, and no longer comes to the club or Messy Church. Please pray that he will find another Christian Youth Club who will disciple him.)
At the start of this year, attendance picked up again, as we looked at 'Where is your life going? Are you on the right path?', using Nicodemus, the Samaritan lady, & Zacchaeus as examples of people challenged by Jesus on exactly this subject. Then, with a fresh intake of completely 'un-churched' members since Easter, we have gone back to a simpler presentation of the Gospel week by week, 'What does it mean to be a Christian?'.
Thanks to Naomi Havell for being an invaluable part of our small leadership team, until her departure for University - and thanks to younger brother Luke for seamlessly taking over from her, and fitting in so well. Also thanks to Randy for helping out recently as well.
Harry Bacon, in his own words, part 2
I would like to retrace my steps a little, in regard to where I finished in Part One, to tell a little more of my commitment and call. I had felt as I attended Summerstown, that I ought to make some witness to my desire to follow Christ. My teacher in Sunday school was Albert Croucher, and one afternoon I stayed behind after class in order to speak to him about it. He gave me much reassurance - he was a great Christian. As I grew older, the feeling grew that I ought to be prepared to be a missionary. The leader of my brothers' afternoon Bible class, Mr. Law had, I believe, been in mission work in Brazil. What is certain is that there were (probably in successive years) several missionary messages about Brazil. Then one day at school, we were called up one by one by the headmaster to discuss vocation. To my shame, I did not dare to say: "I want to be a missionary". I had also thought of being an Anglican minister, and that is what I mentioned.
In September 1939, war was declared, and Bec School was evacuated out of London. I was then awaiting word from Queen Mary College, and eventually was told we were to be received as guests of King's College, Cambridge. So I had a year and a term in Cambridge (at various times getting there, from London, on my bicycle). It was a wonderful year in Cambridge; I did a lot of boating on the river Cam, both rowing boats and punts, & all my family came to visit, including my father.
Derek Kidner was the President of the C.I.C.C.U, at that time. I attended their meetings, and became a member of the Cambridge Volunteer Union, those who have pledged themselves to become missionaries. I also attended a local Baptist church, but it was very liberal. During the year, Martin Lloyd Jones came one Sunday, and preached in the restaurant called 'Dorothy's' (I think they shortened it to 'the Dot'). He had a full house. I overheard one student say to another as they went out afterwards: "Hmm . . . very smug!". That was the attitude of the world to the assured preaching of the Gospel.
By the end of 1940, I had had my tribunal to be a 'conscientious objector' in the war effort, and knew I would soon get my call-up papers. While I waited to be called, I offered to work in 'rest-centres' for people bombed out of their homes. These were mostly in school buildings, the schools themselves having been evacuated to the country. I worked in a centre in the East End. How it could be, I don't know, but a raid never occurred a night that I was on duty. I would get to the centre early in the evening, and there would be a new intake of people from the night before to be got into shape, calmed down, and fed. If there had to be raids, I was rather hoping I could be in the middle of one. But our more or less permanent clientele, those whose homes were so completely destroyed there was no home to go back to, became quite a chummy community.
In February 1941 the Army claimed me. I had to go to Ilfracombe for initial training for the Non-Combatant Corps. One day, a notice appeared on our notice-board, saying that volunteers were needed to go to work on unexploded bombs. (Bombs dropped by enemy planes often failed to go off on hitting the ground.) I went to give my name in at the Company office. The secretary there was one of us, a 'conchie'. He said: "Look, Bacon, if there were only a reasonable measure of danger in this, I wouldn't say anything. But there have been so many deaths. Do you really want to take the risk?" I replied: "I'm not a 'conchie' to avoid the risk of dying, but in order not to have to kill other people." So my name went down. When we were digging, we knew that the vibration of our picks and shovels could set the bomb off. Digging at the bottom of the hole, nearest the bomb, I always felt fine. If the worst happened, I would immediately be in the Lord's presence, but working on one of the platforms on the way up the hole, or clearing the soil from the top, there was the possibility of severe injury and mutilation, so that wasn't so good.
Further on I volunteered as a nursing orderly in the parachute brigades - the Royal Army Medical Corps. This was for the planned landing in France.
Now, I am not the athletic, daring type at all. I had never calculated that anything like parachuting would come my way. It may come as second nature to some, but not to me. I had never done a decent jump over the vaulting horse at school, even. So I began to wonder how I had landed myself in this situation - I was, in fact, a bit amazed at myself. My daily Bible-reading was usually done at night, but I found that in my state of nerves, it was easiest to let Daily Light Bible notes choose the readings for me. I was surprised at the readings that turned up. I can still find them (from the beginning of August that year); "Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col.3:1,2); "Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down" (Is.64:1), and so on. I know it's bad interpretation, but it helped me at the time!
I jumped into Normandy on D-Day. Just before departure I prayed with a group of Christians and some time after arrival in Normandy we prayed together again.
At the beginning of the war, I had been already in touch with the Evangelical Union of South America. More on that next time . . .
We continue to be busy with word of mouth providing a regular supply of new attendees.
Mornings have continued with the usual provision of toys, craft activities, play dough and song time. We have added new toys (tractor, car track, wooden castle and instruments) and had other second-hand toys donated. Easter and Christmas give opportunity to celebrate and share our faith, and at the end of the Autumn and Summer terms we have had our customary lunch parties.
For years Stella has been a busy worker in the kitchen, preparing teas, coffees, juice and biscuits, washing up and prayerfully keeping an eye on us! However at Christmas she hung up her Minis & Minders tea towel and retired. We would like to thank her for her years of faithful ministry and wish her every blessing as she puts her feet up now on Wednesday mornings.
We have been blessed by Maggie joining Dillan and me each week and Dave joining the rota with Peter and Graham. However, recent health issues have forced Maggie to take a step back from this work, for the time being.
This church group continues to thrive, attracting good numbers of church folk and visitors. We meet about once every half term and have been following a series through the Old Testament during our celebration time. These have included Moses and the manna and quail, two sessions on the Ten Commandments and fighting the battle of Jericho (complete with noisy trumpets made during the session). The families engage enthusiastically with the celebration and the craft activities reflect aspects of the story and are often used during its telling.
We also have sessions to celebrate Easter and Christmas and usually have a BBQ and fun day in September, although a number of situations meant that we were unable to run one last year.
The celebration is always followed by a sit down meal in the lower hall, giving an opportunity to chat with the children and families. This is a busy, sociable time with plenty of seconds to be had.
The church remains hugely supportive of Messy Church and as Naomi headed off to university and Stella retired from her role in registration, the Lord provided Dave and Maggie Connor.
Thank you to all those who help with Messy Church, and, with God's blessing, make it the success that it is.
Unfortunately Maggie has once again been diagnosed with breast cancer, which has spread to the lymph nodes in her chest, affecting her right lung. She also has secondary cancer in her bones and is awaiting further scans to determine the extent of the osteoporosis. She will be given treatment in the form of infusions to strengthen the bones, thus stemming the growth of the cancer. The breast cancer will initially be treated using hormone replacement tablets, and it is hoped that this also will stem the growth of the cancer.
This is all obviously extremely frustrating for Maggie, one of our newest members, yet she maintains the positive attitude that has helped her cope with various health problems in recent years. She and Dave testify that everything they do is under the Lord's loving care, as the Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5 v.7, 'Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you'. They are grateful for everyone's support and prayers at this time.
Harry Bacon, in his own words, part 1 (Picture: Harry & younger sister Lily, c. 1925)
I was born at 143a, Blackshaw Road, Tooting, on 18th May, 1920; that is, eighteen months after the end of the First World War. I was sixth out of seven children; my oldest brother, Charlie (as we called him then), was ten years my elder.
I don't know how far our way of living was limited by the aftermath of the war, and how far it was due to our poverty, but I do remember when we had our first butter, and my mother said: "If you're having jam on your bread, then you should have margarine. If it's butter, then appreciate the bread and butter on their own."
When I was four years old, my sister Lily was born. Then my mother took us both to the local Church of England (St. Mary's, Summerstown) to be christened, baptized by sprinkling. I don't remember anything about it except that the baptistry was dome-shaped and was painted with the moon and stars.
I attended Smallwood Road School; I believe I started at the age of four years.
Later I moved up to the Senior Boys. Our teacher, Mr. Davies, had been a Sergeant-Major during the War. Mr. Davies used to say that he fought in the war so that we shouldn't have to fight. "It was the war to end all wars" was the current saying around 1930.
Our mother and father never (or hardly ever) went to church, but my mother saw to it that we children all attended Sunday School (afternoon) at Summerstown Mission, at the end of our road. At 12 years Charlie was converted at a mission led by Messrs. Bennett and Plant. In succession, in the years that followed, all six of the rest of us accepted Christ. My sisters took part in a children's' activity called 'The Spartan Band'. They also sang in a children's choir at the morning Service, and Florrie (the eldest) kept the certificate she gained for this. It doesn't give her first name, Florence, correctly, and it bears no date, but it is such a beautiful production that I have had it framed to hang in my study.
In 1935, occurred the Silver Jubilee of the reign of King George V and Queen Mary. I was in the Boys Brigade at our church, Summerstown Mission, and I was a sergeant. One of our Company could attend the celebration parade, and I was given the opportunity. My place was on the Victoria Monument, opposite the gates of Buckingham Palace. It was obvious that public enthusiasm for the event was very great; the roads in every direction were packed with people. It was only a year before the death of King George. I had an excellent view of the great ones going by, some in open horse carriages.
(To be continued)
'COM Club' ('Come On Mondays') started last October, to cater for the over 55s, filling the gap left by the closure of 'Friends'. In order to strengthen the base for this work, it has been established in conjunction with St Mary's Summerstown (just over the road from us). Meeting monthly at present (on the second Monday of each month), attendance has been between 15 & 20, with around 30 different people coming along at one time or another, which is a considerable increase compared with attendance for 'Friends'.
Activities have included crafts, knitting & board games, along with a Christian 'pause for thought'. Birthdays are celebrated, and refreshments served.
The December meeting was a little different, with games organised by Pauline Ryan from St Mary's (vicar Roger's wife), carols organised by Stella Fifield, a 'pause for thought' on a Christmas theme, and festive refreshments.
It has been an encouraging start, and our thanks go out to all who have supported us in this. However we don't want to be complacent - it is important that we build on this good foundation. More work needs to be done to draw people in who do not yet attend church. We also aim to have a greater variety of activities, and welcome ideas as to what we could do, or any speakers we could invite. Please also continue to pray for this work.
Graham & Rosie Jones
Thelma and I were delighted to become first-time grand-parents when Esme Jean Bines-White was born on 23 January at University College Hospital in Euston. She was born three weeks early by C-section and weighed just 4lb 4oz.
Due to medical complications Esme spent her first few days in the High Dependency Unit and since then has been in the Special Care Unit. It's not been an easy time for our daughter Melanie and son-in-law Dan, but they have coped really well. They, of course, can't wait to finally get her home! Currently, the doctors are working on getting Esme's blood sugar level stable and managing a very rare condition which means that her body isn't producing the steroid hormone, cortisol. It's possible that the natural process may start by itself, however, if this doesn't happen within six months to a year, it will almost certainly mean permanent medication.
We would be very grateful for your prayers for Dan and Melanie that God may speak to them in His love and also for Esme that our Lord's gracious hand may be on her.
Peter & Thelma Bines
In 1984, SMEC 'inherited' no. 20 Wimbledon Road,
Summerstown, primarily for a manse, or to put to some other good use. It's one
of those typical long, thin 3-bedroomed Victorian terraced houses that London is full of, with a tiny back garden, & barely off the street at the front. So
who did it belong to? And how did the church end up owning it?
It belonged to a lady called Miss Doris Pett, who lived there from 1902 - 1984 (her entire life), whose parents were members at Summerstown Mission, her father being Sunday School superintendent, at a time when there were up to 200 children coming along, and her mother one of the teachers. So from the age of 15 Doris herself was involved, already playing the piano for the 3-8s class on Sunday mornings. From there her responsibilities grew & within a few years she was co-leader of the children's choir, & co-leader of the junior girls' 'Spartan Band', a week-night club of P.E. & games.
The Pett family home was used almost as an extension of the church premises, being conveniently close to the church: there were always guests to Sunday tea, the young people's group were frequent visitors, and there was always a welcome for anyone who had forgotten their church keys, arrived too early, had a problem, or any other 'excuse'. Even after her parents both passed away, Doris maintained this practice of opening her home for Bible studies, prayer meetings, Sunday School teachers' meetings, committee meetings and occasionally the women's meeting as well! Long before the church had a burglar alarm, any church items that could be readily stolen were stored instead at no. 20.
After her friend Annie Naylor moved in (another single lady), Doris continued to extend this hospitality, and her & Annie also did the catering for Sunday School parties & Young Life Campaign events for years.
When I knew Doris (always referred to as 'Miss Pett'), she was a very quiet, reserved older lady, who took my Sunday School 'primary' class (age 4-7s), following the same format every week, playing a simple piano accompaniment for our choruses, and never, ever seen without a hat! (I remember being taken to her home one time when I was still quite young, and being almost shocked to see her 'naked' head!)
So was there more to this quiet, unassuming, godly lady than it appears? Was there ever! Doris spent her career within the Civil Service, which is all most people knew of her working life. Only after the start of the 2nd World War did her mother let slip, 'Doris always has her case packed & ready - where the King goes, there Doris goes!' did it emerge that she worked for the Privy Council! For her lifetime of unquestioning dedication to monarch & country Doris was awarded 1st the M.B.E. &, just before she retired, the M.V.O. (Member of the Royal Victorian Order), a rare honour given to her by the Queen herself, who expressed her gratitude for Doris' long & faithful service.
Yet for the 100s of people who attended the church during those years that Doris served at Summerstown, (becoming Assistant Secretary in 1937 & eventually General Secretary in 1968) there was no clue, no hint, of the truly heroic nature of the lady 'under the hat' - just a quiet, gentle soul who taught Sunday School 'til well into her 80s, & simply, faithfully played the piano every Sunday evening. Maybe this shows her humble loyalty & devotion to her even greater King, her Lord & Saviour. And explains why, having no immediate family to whom to bequeath her worldly goods, she chose to bless the church, on her passing, with the house that she had shared with her church family her entire life.