August 4th, 2015

Fisher’s Take the Reins at Bootle Evangelical Church

By: Chuck McComb

Dr. Roy and Mrs. Yvonne Fisher of Naples, FL have picked up the reins at Bootle Evangelical Church (BEC) in Cumbria, UK. They are the third American interim pastor couple to serve BEC. Darrell and Faith Grice from The Heights Baptist Church in Richardson, TX started this ministry in June 2014. This was the Grice’s 5th assignment in England with AIPM. John and Jan Ward from First Baptist Church in Lake Jackson, TX followed the Grice’s at BEC and this was their 3rd assignment of 6-months in England. The Fisher’s will serve BEC from mid-June to Mid-December 2015.

Roy and Yvonne Fisher, Naples, FL

Very good progress is being made at BEC and in the community of Bootle. The American Interim Pastor Ministries (AIPM) strategy is for each successive American interim couple to build on the foundation laid by previous interims and help the church grow until they can both afford and locate a British pastor.

Bootle Chapel, Bootle, Millom, Cumbria

Bootle had been served faithfully for about 10 years by a much loved British pastor, Rev. James Thomas. Sadly, Rev. Thomas died in October 2013. In the spring of 2014 BEC and Rural Ministries (the association of Evangelical Free Churches that cares for BEC) decided to have American interim pastors.

AIPM started at BEC in June 2014 and will continue to at least mid-2016. One of the BEC elders estimates that there has been more than a 50% increase in morning worship attendance. He estimates that evening worship attendance numbers have more than doubled.

Each American couple has been encouraged with BEC’s efforts to reach their community for Christ. Some of these activities include:

• Sunday morning and evening worship services often followed by tea and fellowship;
• Mid-week Bible studies;
• Saturday morning prayer time;
• Tuesday coffee mornings that are very well attended by folk from the village;
• Moms and tots gathering on Tuesday afternoons;
• BEC leads worship at the Abbyfield Retirement Center one Sunday per month;
• Wednesday “computer drop-in” for those with that interest and need;
• Model railway club meetings around an impressive layout on many Friday evenings;
• A light lunch for the village folk on certain Tuesdays;
• Strong support for Captain Shaw’s Primary School in the village;
• BEC and St. Michael’s Anglican Church teamed up to prevent the school’s closure;

St. Michael's Anglican Church, Bootle, Cumbria

Church members and faithful attendees had the following to say about their experience with American couples serving alongside them:

Each couple has brought their own individual talents and they have all helped us with our outreach to the village of Bootle and the surrounding area, making many friends in the process. We owe them all a huge debt of gratitude and the Church would not be where it is today without them.”

(Their) participation with us in the work and worship at Bootle Evangelical Church has been a real injection and encouragement to us here. First of all, their warm friendship and real caring attitude, not only for the needs of those coming to Church, but also for all those in the wider community. All three American couples have come to share our ministry here. Their commitment has been wholehearted. We value their work and friendship enormously.”

There is a sweet spirit in BEC and relationships in the community and with the only other church in the village, St. Michael’s Anglican Church are very good!

Interestingly, the Fisher’s have “returned home” to serve at Bootle. They were both born and raised in England. Roy had a one-year Student Pastorate at Bracknell Baptist Church while attending Spurgeon’s College. Following graduation from Spurgeon’s, he and Yvonne had one year at the 9th and O Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. They returned to England where Roy became Pastor of the Swalecliffe Free Church – Baptist, Swalecliffe, Kent. They served Swalecliffe for just over five years and then the Lord led them back to the USA in April of 1973.

In the USA Roy and Yvonne also served churches in Florida, Arizona and Tennessee. They became US citizens in 1984. They moved to Naples, FL in 2001 to become “Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care” at First Baptist Church, Naples, FL. Roy served at that until “temporary retirement” at the end of 2009. They have suspended their temporary retirement as so many AIPM candidates do to serve in England. Perhaps “normal retirement” comes later, but our guess is that our Father will keep them busy in ministry. They are scheduled to return to FL around mid-December 2015 at the completion of their 6-month assignment at BEC.

Roy and Yvonne on Vacation in Scotland (Only about 80 miles from Bootle)

With so many scheduled church outreach activities one wonders how the American couples can find time to tour the beautiful countryside. The beautiful scenery is one of the perks for serving in England, but certainly not the reason to go! As a matter of fact however, such outings are excellent ways to fellowship not only with BEC members and the large number of people who attend and serve faithfully but also with folk from the village.

Bootle Village from top Bootle Fell (about 3 miles to Irish Sea)

Millom, Cumbria (8 miles south of Bootle) Barrow-in-Furnace on Horizon

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