August 25th, 2016

Update: American interim pastors and youth workers

By: Chuck McComb

Our last update covered the ministry of Jim Booth at Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire from September 2015 to March 2016. Much has transpired since then. We should have updated a few times, but as you will see below, we have been busy – Praise the Lord! We’ll begin this update with Stow and cover happenings at the churches where AIPM has interim pastors and youth workers serving. We will end with a review of possibilities for future ministry.

In late May 2016 Ray Dupere from Ellington, CT arrived to serve as interim pastor at Stow. His wife, Avril, had commitments in CT until mid-June, but joined Ray at that time. Ray retired as senior pastor of Union Church in Rockville, CT at the end of 2015 after 8 years of service. Prior ministry includes Senior Pastor of The Church of the Open Door in Hampden, Maine from 1985 to 2003. Ray and Avril lived in the London area from 2003 to 2006 where Ray served in the Sports Chaplaincy Ministry, SCORE, now called “Sports Chaplaincy UK.”

Ray and Avril Dupere

Ray is a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point and Dallas Theological Seminary. He served 4 years active duty in the US Army and 17 years in the Maine National Guard. His military service led to his becoming the head of the Maine National Guard Chaplaincy program before his retirement.

Stow Congregation Early 2015

Ray and Avril will remain at Stow until the end of December 2016. AIPM expects to provide candidates for service at Stow from early January 2017. Stow is not a large congregation, but is becoming stronger. We praise the Lord for generous financial support for Stow from the Southern Counties Baptist Association and from Rural Ministries!

Next to Ringstead Baptist Church, not for an update, but to introduce this fairly new place of service for AIPM. We’ll start with their initial inquiry. The leaders of RBC invited AIPM’s UK Representative, Chris Mepham (retired from the Baptist Union), to visit them to give an overview of this ministry. Interestingly, they estimated about a dozen people might show up to hear Chris. Imagine his excitement when 20 people attended. Chris, as he does for churches and associations, gave them an overview of AIPM and the role that Gateshead International Ministries plays in providing certificates of sponsorship so that our volunteers are able to get visas.

We will digress and explain the contribution of Chris and just one of so many other AIPM volunteers that have had such an impact on this ministry. Chris heard about AIPM’s ministry at Thornaby Baptist Church in 2002. He arranged to go by TBC and visit with Ken Bugh, who was TBC’s American interim pastor for the last half of 2002. Chris saw great potential in AIPM and since his Baptist Union ministry consisted of helping struggling British Baptist churches, he was a great one to make that assessment.

Chris Mepham (L) and Ken Bugh (VP AIPM) - on Galveston Bay 2003

In May 2003 in an expression of confidence in AIPM, Jim Green, Sagemont Church’s Minister of Missions, invited Chris Mepham and Derek Allan from the Baptist Union of Great Britain to come to Texas and help establish the protocol for operation of AIPM in Baptist Union churches. Ken Bugh, Jim Green, Chris Mepham, Derek Allan and Chuck McComb spent a very long day on Memorial Day 2003 working up the protocol that has served us amazingly well all these years!

Ringstead Congregation - Easter 2014

The Ringstead folk liked very much what Chris had to say about this ministry and invited us to help them for at least 2-years. In late 2015 RBC invited Dr. Robert Shehane (wife: Carel) to serve as their American interim pastor for the first half of 2016. Robert and Carel served 30 years as Missionaries with the Southern Baptist International Board in France. And, Robert had served 7-years as senior pastor of Second Baptist Church, Dallas, TX. They were looking forward to another overseas ministry assignment. Within a few weeks of the Shehane’s arrival, the RBC folk asked if they would be willing to remain the entire year of 2016. The Shehane’s agreed and will continue at RBC until mid-January 2017.

Robert and Carel Shehane

AIPM expects to provide candidates for service as volunteer interim pastor for RBC starting in Mid-January 2017 and for as long as the RBC folk feel it will take for them to come to the point that they can have a British Baptist pastor. Our intent in each interim pastor assignment is to “work ourselves out of a job.”

The ministry at Bootle Evangelical Church in Cumbria in the English Lake District is just as exciting as that at Stow and Ringstead. AIPM has been providing interim pastors at Bootle since June 2014. Bootle opened up new opportunities for AIPM in the UK. The Baptist Union recommended AIPM to a mission agency in England called Rural Ministries. RM needed interim pastors for their churches and AIPM has excellent candidates. Simon Mattholie, Chief Executive of RM and an accredited Baptist minister with the Baptist Union, recommended AIPM to BEC and got our ministry there started.

Simon Mattholie, Chief Exec. Rural Ministries

A recap seems appropriate. Darrell Grice (wife: Faith) from Richardson,Tx was Bootle’s first volunteer American interim pastor from June to late November 2014. Darrell served a long and distinguished ministry ranging from music and youth to education and missions. Interestingly, BEC was the Grice’s 5th assignment with AIPM! Previously, they served at Milnsbridge and Mirfield near Huddersfield, Hamsterley and Wolsingham in County Durham and Middlesbrough Baptist Churches.

Darrell and Faith Grice

Darrell and Faith were followed at Bootle by John and Jan Ward from Lake Jackson, TX. BEC was their 3rd and 4th assignment with AIPM. They had already served at Skegness and Henley-in-Arden. They served at Bootle from late-November 2014 until mid-2015, went home for 6-months and then returned to serve BEC for another 6-months finishing in late-May 2016. John is one of 12 laymen that have served so well in this ministry! He had a 30 plus year career with Dow Chemical Company and served as a very active layman at First Baptist, Lake Jackson, TX for all of his adult live. Jan served as Children’s Minister at FBC.

John and Jan Ward

After the Ward’s first BEC assignment, Roy Fisher (wife: Yvonne) was called to serve at Bootle. They served from mid to end 2015. Roy and Yvonne were born and raised in England. Roy was called to the Gospel ministry and trained for ministry in the UK. Following graduation, he became Associate Pastor for one year at a church in Louisville, Ky; then returned to the UK to serve as a senior pastor for five years. In 1973 the Fisher’s immigrated to the USA where Roy was called as pastor of FBC Apopka, FL. They also served churches in AZ and TN and became US citizens in 1984. Roy’s final ministry assignment before retirement was Minister to Senior Adults at FBC Naples, FL.

Roy and Yvonne Fisher

Kermit Morris (wife: Henrietta) followed the Ward’s second assignment at Bootle and is their current volunteer interim pastor. Kermit served in youth and education ministry for about 20-years in churches from Arizona to North Carolina. He was founding pastor of a church in CT and 2 churches in NC. Like so many of AIPM’s volunteers, Kermit “failed retirement” and keeps on serving.

Kermit and Henrietta Morris

AIPM’s initial assignments are normally 6-months. This gives our volunteers an opportunity to return home to visit family, see doctors and get prescriptions refilled. But, the rotation of personnel is a bit of a drawback. The way we try to mitigate this disadvantage is to work hard from the initial assignment at a UK church on vision and strategy and then count on the subsequent interim pastors to build on the foundation laid by those that preceded them. This is happening at all of our churches an none more so than at Bootle.

The Grice’s laid a foundation. The Ward’s, Fisher’s and the Ward’s again built on that foundation. Now the Morris’ are continuing to build up the ministry. For example, there were 46 in worship on Sunday 21 August 2016. That is more than double the normal attendance pre-AIPM and we give all the glory to our Father!!! Bootle is a small village but the woods are full of children! There were 39 children present at the BEC’s picnic on 18 August 2016 and 34 present for BEC’s showing of the “Little Mermaid” movie on 23 August.

These numbers of children bode well for the new Bootle Children’s Ministry Initiative that is being started! The targeted start date is October 2016 and we envision continuing for 5 years. Bootle Evangelical Church, Rural Ministries and AIPM are partnering to reach the children of the local Captain Shaw’s school and the community with the Gospel. Our prayer is that many children will come to faith in Jesus Christ and many of their parents will as well.

To this end, Malorie McGuff, a 22-year old youth and children’s worker from Normandale Baptist Church in Ft. Worth, TX has accepted the invitation to serve for 2-years at Bootle.

Malorie McGuff

The ministry will be funded by BEC, RM and AIPM. AIPM is currently raising funds in the USA to provide accommodations, meals and a sizable budget for outreach. It is a great blessing to report that the congregation at BEC and the staff at Captain Shaw’s as well as folk in the community are excited about these plans to minister to their children! And, there is a sweet spirit between the Bootle Chapel folk and the only other church in the village, St. Michael’s Anglican church. St. Michael’s congregation has dwindled such that services are held there only 1 Sunday each month. The other 3 Sundays, the St. Michael’s members worship at BEC. And, they support all the outreach activities of BEC throughout the week. We believe that spirit will serve very well as this ministry to children starts up and continues.

This is a good segue into the update on AIPM’s current youth ministry in UK churches. New Life Baptist Church, King’s Heath, Birmingham has had 6 youth workers from the USA. Our youth workers have helped in New Life’s nursery, coffee shop and with their youth and children’s programs. Gayle McDougall from Dallas, TX began her service at New Life in January and her 2 year assignment will finish in December 2016.

Gayle McDougall

Westoe Road Baptist Church in South Shields, UK has had 2 American interim pastors serve already. They currently have a British pastor so that goal has been met. They had a team of American young people come over on a short term mission trip a couple of years ago. On that team was a student at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, Allyssa Crabtree. Allyssa finished her degree program as well as an internship at Tryon Evergreen Baptist Association and volunteered to serve in youth ministry at WRBC. Allyssa will finish her 1-year assignment in December 2016.

Allyssa Crabtree

Most recently, Chelsea White reported for service at Whitley Bay Baptist Church for a 2-year assignment on 2 August 2016. Chelsea is a 2016 graduate of Steven F. Austin University.

Chelsea White

Chelsea, as well as Malorie McGuff above, went on short-term mission trips to the UK during their university studies. Both answered God’s call to volunteer 2-years of their lives in service of our Lord in the UK. Interestingly, both young ladies are products of the excellent youth ministry at Normandale Baptist Church in Ft. Worth, TX. It is noteworthy that Brent Lightsey, their youth pastor for all of their teen years, has served as Normandale’s youth pastor for more than 20-years. That is almost unheard of for youth pastors! No wonder his young people answer God’s call to serve!

At the outset, I promised a “review of possibilities for the future.” There are exciting prospects for additional places of service in the UK! PTL! It is possible that 2 additional Rural Ministries “evangelical” churches will seek American interim pastor help. And, one or perhaps two additional Baptist Union churches have been considering AIPM interim pastors. There has been one additional request for an American youth worker and another Baptist church has started making inquiries about youth workers. The good news is that there may be even more places for our volunteers to serve. The challenge is to find suitable candidates for both interim pastor and youth workers. All of us at AIPM will appreciate prayer for the work that is currently underway and for any new places of service and by all means, please pray for the Lord to raise up workers for His harvest. The fields are indeed white for harvest in our beloved UK!

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