Pastor Ian Sweeney - President British Union Conference
On behalf of the British Union Conference, I would like to extend season's greetings to all our church family.
Quite obviously 2020 has been a most remarkable year which has been defined by Covid-19 and all the devastation that has been left in its wake. Most of us have felt the painful touch of Covid whether for ourselves or with our families and friends.
With so much negativity and talk in the United Kingdom about 'cancelling Christmas' because of lockdown restrictions we can easily forget that we have an Advent hope. This Advent hope came in a real way 2000 years ago when Matthew commented (Matt 1:23 KJV) "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."
Emmanuel is a name that has contemporary relevance, for God has been with us through 2020.
Life has not been easy in 2020, but we are not alone because "GOD IS WITH US!"
I do not know what 2021 holds, but I know that God is with us, and we can anticipate His Second Advent.
May God bless us all, as we live and share the wonderful truth of our Saviour Emmanuel.
Pastor Richard Jackson – President North England Conference
The end of 2020 brings a natural time of reflection, which for many of us will be a time of sadness given the losses that we have suffered during this year. However, we continue to pray that all members of the BUC will look towards the new year, 2021 with hope, knowing that…"the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (1 Peter 5:10)
In September and December, the North England Conference broadcast on its YouTube Channel the Pathway of Hope series and the Pathway of Hope: Reloaded series, the first with Dr Abraham Jules and the second with Pastor John Bradshaw. During these series we were encouraged and reminded to look to Jesus as the source of our hope and strength. I echo these words of encouragement as I too encourage you, that although this year has been hard due to losses of loved ones, jobs, homes, health and dignity, our God is still in control. We serve a God whose "…favour is for life. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."(Psalm 30:5)
If there is one thing that we can all learn from 2020 it is that we should daily ensure that we spend time in prayer, cementing our life supporting connection to Christ no matter what is happening around us. Christ’s birth, life, dead and resurrection are testament to the fact that we can have hope irrespective of what is happening around us.
We will continue to pray for you as we journey from one year to the next, on a road that will bring us ever closer to eternity.
Pastor Emanuel Osei – President South England Conference
For many of us, 2020 has been a year quite unlike any other that we have experienced before. We have watched as world leaders and governments have been thrown into disarray, desperately attempting to regain control amidst growing confusion and panic. We have witnessed businesses go under − never to return. Livelihoods lost, entire industries shut down and far too many of us have felt death's painful sting.
As a Church, ready or not, the global coronavirus pandemic disrupted the status quo, forced us to embrace change and gave rise to the exploration of new and innovative ways to engage in ministry. While many of our churches have been unable to reopen for corporate worship, it's been a blessing to see our doors opening to feed the hungry, our members mobilised to meet the needs of our communities through the delivery of shopping and medicines to those self-isolating. It's been uplifting to see the number of congregations leveraging the power of technology to conduct services online and our young people leading the charge in engaging in social justice and spreading the good news via digital platforms.
Friends, let's not allow ourselves to get caught up in the frenzy. While those around us may fret and worry about what the future may bring, remember that we have the blessed assurance that our redemption draws nigh. So look up, my brothers and my sisters! Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.
I do not know when we will have the opportunity to fellowship, one with another, as we used to. Neither do I know when we will once again have the opportunity to raise our voices together in song giving praise and glory to our Lord and Saviour. For some of us, the next time we will meet is on that sea of glass and what a day of rejoicing that will be!
While none of us know exactly what the future holds, let us take comfort in the fact that we know the One who holds the future in His hands. No matter how tumultuous life on this earth may be, be encouraged. God is STILL in control!
On behalf of the leadership here at the South England Conference, it is my prayer that God pours out His richest blessings upon you and carries you into 2021 with a renewed commitment to love and serve Him. I wish you all compliments of the season and a blessed new year!
Pastor Emanuel Bran – President Welsh Mission
According to statistics one of the most used phrase in 2020 is “you're muted”, somehow summarising the frustration of many who had to adjust to new technology and an online social experience. In many respects, the tragedies of 2020 had the potential to mute our spirit and defeat our commitment, yet it is in moments of great despair and anguish that our search for Hope and Truth is deepened.
Abraham Lincoln once said “In the end it's not the years in your life that count. Is the life in your years.” Although he didn’t intend this to be a spiritual application, as a devout Christian, I believe he also understood that our journey – the way we live our life – will determine not just the impact we make, but also the final destination. This year we have seen thousands of heroes - from NHS staff on the front lines, to captain Sir Tom Moor who raised over £32 million. These and many others are people who decided to make a difference, not to “be muted” no matter how greater the cost.
Across the British Isles many churches including the Seventh-day Adventist church, have provided support and hope at a time when it was needed most. We organised foodbanks, provided PPE, engaged in counselling and provided the spiritual platform where people found strength and answer to life’s deepens questions. We want to thank God for helping us to innovate and adapt, enabling us to maintain our mission and vision, to continue to promote the voice of the One who testifies… “Surely I am coming quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20
On behalf of the Welsh Mission church family, we wish you all Season Greetings and a Happy New Year!
Pastor Paul Tompkins - President Scottish Mission
Many years ago, as an A level student, I studied English literature and one of our assigned books had the following first sentence, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." (ATale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens') This year we have certainly lived through the worst of times, but as Christians we have the assurance that in Christ we can claim His sure promises, including the assurance of the very best of times ahead when He returns in glory.
Personally, three words come to mind for 2020, resilience, family and hope. I have been proud of the way that the church has adapted throughout the time of lockdown, with creative and ongoing online services, and has remained strong and resilient throughout the pandemic. Together we stand firm and look to a better day. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a family,and families pull together through thick and thin. A big thank you to all our family members who have kept and shared their faith through this undoubtedly difficult time.
The hymn that so many of us know so well, and love to sing, is We Have This Hope. The first two lines sum up the situation that transcends time, place and circumstance; "We have that hope that burns within our hearts, Hope in the coming of the Lord." Brothers and sisters, hold fast to the faith and never let go of this hope.
Blessings for Christmas as we remember the birth of the Christ child – our Saviour - who gives us this ultimate hope, and for the New Year as we live out His love and teachings wherever we are.
Grace and peace to you all.
Pastor Dan Serb - President Irish Mission
The year 2020 has been a challenging, unusual and trying time for many people. Much unrest, confusion and loss has been experienced across the world, and the Church has not been immune to the impact and effects of it all. As we come to the end of this year, we wish to express our sincerest thanks and appreciation to those who have held high the banner of hope, resiliency, and perseverant faith.
We wish to acknowledge the wise and immediate response and guidance of the BUC leadership and various directorships at the onset of and throughout the pandemic. Also, we want to thank the Irish Mission pastoral team, Bible workers and Sponsors, and their families, for their tireless, sacrificial, and dedicated commitment to service and ministry; many of them worked long hours, forfeited their leave, and immersed themselves in innovative and new ways of ministry in order to ensure that church members continued to receive adequate pastoral care.
Moreover, we wish to express our deepest gratitude to the Irish Mission members and friends who have exercised patience and understanding towards us, and faithfully continued to worship, minister to the community, and return their tithes and offerings – your faithfulness and generosity have ensured that the Mission is able to adequately plan for 2021, with the blessed opportunity of employing an extra staff member in January 2021 (the first full-time Irish Mission Youth Director/Sponsor). We also wish to thank our various partners (old and new) who've added extra blessings to the efforts made in both nurture and ministry; they are, the Emerald Foundation, La Sierra University Centre for Conflict Resolution, and Versacare (all in the USA).
Last, but not least, we wish to extend our fondest thanks and appreciation to Marci Neal – due to an internal restructuring process, her contract was brought to an end in October; thank you, Marci, for your love, hard work and dedication given to the Irish Mission during the many years of selfless service.
On the threshold of yet another year, we wish you all a blessed, safe, and prosperous Festive Season and year ahead; may the Lord's protection and grace abide with us all! "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace" – Numbers 6:24-26 (ESV).