From the challenging covid-19 era, for many it was an elongated voyage after many churches and businesses compulsorily closed their doors for the safety of their members and customers respectively. Yet despite the temporary halt to all sense of normality, God is truly be glorified for always having a back-up plan to ensure His mission to spread the good news of salvation to all people and nations is fulfilled. During these challenging times of Covid believers can truly say “to God be the glory” for indeed knowledge has increased (Dan 12:4), with all suspended church gatherings for the first time making a switch to online services, (Zoom, YouTube, Teams etc) to maintain regular contact with members.
Since the highly anticipated reopening of Ilford Central’s Church doors on Sabbath 12th June 2021 members have witnessed the baptism and addition of 12 new members to the fold of God:
Danette Hixon, Rayner Chikirah Mathurin, Ricky Cyrus Jn Pierre, Luke Manhanga, Rashima Janine Reviere (Dagenham), Yvette Murray and Nicodemus Preville in June alongside Elmond Fletcher, Angel Osei, Kerry-Ann Campbell, Tendayi Mashingaidze and Fitzroy Barnard in August.
While the church is now open for worship every Sabbath, Ilford Central still continues to stream its services on both Zoom and YouTube for members and visitors who are either housebound or who still remain cautious with some feeling it’s still too early to congregate.
Besides the baptisms of the 12 new members (11 of which now congregate at Ilford Central) the hosting of South England Conference President Dr Emmanuel Osei on Sabbath 31st July 2021 was another memorable highlight. For many members it was a mind blowing experience to see both the President and his wife, Laura Osei, not on Zoom or YouTube, but face to face. Reflecting on the Great Commission Jesus gave to His disciples found in Mathew 28:18-20, the SEC President reminded the church of its own mission in making disciples and building communities, with the dedication of 4 lockdown born babies alongside the announcement of 3 pending weddings from within the Ilford community an indication of such a mission. Paul the apostle wrote in the book of Philippines 2:4 “Let not each of you look unto his or her interest alone but also to the interest of others would you look,” words which have certainly rung true during these times of Covid. As Ilford continues to meet the needs of the membership through various outreach programmes, the evening Discovery Bible Reading sessions led by First Elder Martin Mugadza and active participation in Sabbath School it is the aim of the church leadership that with the additional introduction of extending small groups in Sabbath School that every member will be equipped to become a disciple maker knowing that Jesus is soon to come to take all His faithful saints home.