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Baptist president takes tour of East Anglia

ChrisDuffettCarletonRode450The Eastern Baptist Association hosted Baptist Union of Great Britain President, Rev Chris Duffett, on the second leg of The Big Hearted Tour, last weekend (June 22 to 24), including helping South Norfolk’s Carleton Rode Baptist Church celebrate its 200th anniversary. Jill Mayes reports.
Friday saw Chris at work with Church from Scratch in Southend-on-Sea, speaking to members over lunch, filming in the afternoon, and meeting with mission personnel from a range of different churches in the evening.
 
Saturday led Chris to Hadleigh in Essex, where he was a key participant in the EBA Annual Assembly, where he shared his heart to love people as God does.
 
Alongside the usual seminars, people were encouraged to “just do something” with an opportunity to bless Hadleigh.  Upwards of 60 delegates took to the streets, giving away sweets and cakes, praying and writing notes of encouragement, and overseeing an art installation inviting people to record what they’d like to do before they die. A further three groups met in cafes and pubs to undertake a Lyfe Bible Study.
 
“Our group of six met in ‘The Castle’ pub,” said Sue Mahagan, a delegate from West Leigh Baptist Church. “We read a Bible passage aloud and had a lively discussion. I loved it and want to do it again!”
 
Carleton Rode Baptist Church in South Norfolk was celebrating its 200th anniversary with a community fun day on Sunday. In spite of the weather, Chris provided entertainment whilst sharing the message of God’s love; his escapology from both handcuffs and a straightjacket made quite an impact on those watching, around 60% of whom had had little previous contact with church.
 
Minister at Carleton Rode, Revd Mark Taylor, was very encouraged by Chris’s down-to-earth approach: “A couple of years ago, Kingsley Appiagyei, broke the presidential mould, steering us towards a new spiritual depth, and now Chris is breaking it again with his approach to demonstrating God’s love to people,” he said.
 
The weekend was rounded off with a visit to Lode Chapel in Cambridgeshire, where Chris met and encouraged over twenty ministers from the surrounding area. There was a lively discussion about ‘what works’ and an opportunity to pray with, and for, one another.
 
Chris’s final duty in the east was to speak at an Alpha supper in Royston, Cambridgeshire.
 
“It’s been a brilliant few days with Chris,” said Richard Lewis, one of the Regional Ministers of EBA. “His passion for loving people and sharing God’s love has both challenged and encouraged many people this weekend. We hope this is just the beginning of the Eastern Region becoming more Big Hearted.”
 
Pictured above, Rev Mark Taylor of Carleton Rode Baptist Church ensures Chris Duffett is safely tied into a strait jacket. 

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