On Saturday 5 March, over 130 people from across different expressions of the church of Thurrock gathered at the Thurrock Hotel for the Rock Thurrock Launch Breakfast.
In an amazing show of unity – unprecedented in recent years, if not ever – around 28 of the borough’s churches and fellowships were represented. Anglicans, Pentecostals, Baptists, Charismatics, Methodists, Salvationists, United Reformists and others enjoyed a hearty full English breakfast together before the Rock Thurrock vision was presented.
Colin Baker, pastor of Grays Baptist Church, introduced the event in his capacity as the Rock Thurrock Core Team Leader and Chair of Transformation Thurrock. He introduced a few of the special guests present, and Edwin Hughes, also of Grays Baptist Church, who’d begun the whole Rock Thurrock ball rolling in May last year after a visit to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) stall at the Christian Resources Exhibition. He returned to Thurrock and sent out an email with the decidedly understated comment, “Thought this might be of interest as a unity project to enable and reach young people in our community”.
The main speaker was Gary Cobb who works out of the BGEA office in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he is Director of Training. He gave an illustrated talk entitled, Reaching Young People for Jesus, which was essentially a presentation of the Rock Thurrock vision. Informative and full of humour, passion and challenge, Gary explained the origins of Rock Thurrock, being based on Rock the City events in the massive sporting arenas of the USA, and the various constituent parts of the project, with the training, community action projects and events. He showed video footage along the way of Rock the CIty events.
Gary told everyone his parable of the lifeguard – he pointed out that no one having trouble swimming gets out of the sea to ask to be saved, but a lifeguard jumps in and does the saving, risking his own life in the process. That is evangelism, and that is the purpose of Rock Thurrock – to bring the good news of Jesus to a drowning generation.
Gary was in danger of being upstaged by 17 year old Rebekah who attends a local church. Rebekah simply and enthusiastically shared what it means to her to be a Christian, and why she thinks it’s important to invite her friends to her church activities. A major part of Rock Thurrock is the Bring A Friend scheme – to the big events in September, and to the follow-up courses that follow.
Then Tim Harrold of Transformation Thurrock and Frank Gaisie, pastor of Destiny Chapel, said a few words about the Rock Thurrock Prayer Strategy. Tim, making reference to a joke Gary had made about Forrest Gump, began by quoting from the film, “Life is like a box of chocolates”, and made the point that if all the churches represented were like chocolates, then they’d all been tipped out of the box – no more box, no more compartments between them keeping them separate, altogether on one plate.
Quoting from Psalm 133, that when we dwell together, God commands the blessing for life evermore, Tim reminded folk that the mandate of Transformation Thurrock is to facilitate and resource united prayer and united mission across the borough, and that Rock Thurrock fulfils that by bringing to our borough the opportunity to unite in mission – but to unite in mission we must first be united in prayer.
And so every aspect of the Rock Thurrock programme is to be covered by prayer, with prayer meetings in the run-up to the various training and follow-up courses and while they are taking place, and prayer accompanying the community action projects, in partnership with Besom. Rock Thurrock Prayer will be taking place at as many venues as possible right across the borough, and there will be a week of prayer and fasting before and during the Rock Thurrock events at the Civic Hall in September.
Rock Thurrock Prayer will have an adult stream and a young people’s stream, the latter in partnership with UNITE 30/31, and every electronic means possible will be used to communicate information and prayer needs at other times.
Frank followed this by emphasising that mission without prayer is powerless, and challenged people to make a commitment to pray and be involved in the Rock Thurrock Prayer strategy by making themselves available for a core group of intercessors. He also plugged the Rock Thurrock Prayer launch, a half-night of prayer called Ignite The Flame, on Friday 1 April 8-12pm at Grays Baptist Church.
Anita Darashah-Borman, Youth Ministries Project Manager at BGEA UK, then spoke about the training courses on offer for adults and young people. These are the Christian Life & Witness Course – being held in four venues across the borough – and FM419 (named after Matthew 4:19, where Jesus says, “Follow me”), which is being held at Grays United Reformed Church on 9/10 September. Later on there will be the follow-up Velocity course, held in various locations in October and November.
Anita also talked about Rock Thurrock – The Event, taking place on 24/25 September at Thurrock Civic Hall in Grays, and played brief excerpts of the songs of the groups appearing. One of the groups – Beautiful Remnant – were present at the breakfast!
There followed a Q&A session, and then Jonathan Oloyede from Global Day of Prayer London brought an endorsement of the Rock Thurrock project and the work of the BGEA in reaching the younger generation for Christ, recalling his own conversion as a young man from Islam.
Jonathan led everyone in prayer, getting folk to join hands to call upon God for Thurrock. He also asked for the young people present to come to the front and be prayed for by others, and for the Rock Thurrock Core Team to come out for prayer.
He later told Transformation Thurrock, “I was really blessed by the while event. I am convinced you guys are unto something in Thurrock. Let’s keep praying!”
At the end of the morning, Thurrock’s deputy mayor, Cllr Tunde Ojetola gave his support for Rock Thurrock, saying that he and Cllr Phil Anderson, who was also present, and others on the borough’s Council will do all they can to work towards the success of the project.
As people left the hotel, they universally expressed their appreciation of and support for the Rock Thurrock project. Andy Acreman of Thurrock Christian Fellowship was reminded of a picture he’d had a few years ago of houses being engulfed by a flood, and the water rising above the fences that divided them, so that now people were getting about in boats no longer hindered by former boundaries. He saw this as an image of unity and revival, and suggested Rock Thurrock could be just the thing we’ve been waiting for to bring this about.
Afterwards, Colin expressed his extreme satisfaction at the turn out and the response of the launch. But perhaps the tears he’d forced back during Rebekah’s little speech said more than any words what Rock Thurrock means to him.
Edwin was succinct. “Amazing turn out. Amazing presentations and speeches by all. Amazing morning full of the power of the Holy Spirit. God will complete the good work he has started though us.”
Anita, who is working closely with the local Core Team, sent the following encouragement by email: “A massive, massive thank you for your help on Saturday at the Launch Breakfast. You are an amazing bunch of people, and I know that it will be a real privilege to journey with you over the next few months to set up and run Rock Thurrock. We left on Saturday afternoon with a real sense of God’s anointing on the whole project, and upon you all too. The BGEA staff all came up to me and told me how impressed they were with the Core Team, and that I’ve got a good group of people working on this project. Thank you for working so hard, and for working so well together as a team. I loved the way you were all so willing to serve, and that you just got on and did stuff without any prompting from me. It was a real joy to work with you all, and I’m grateful that we will have more opportunities in the next few months.”
Thurrock churches represented
- Aveley Christian Centre
- Chafford Hundred Community Church
- Christ Embassy Church
- Corringham Baptist Church
- Corringham Evangelical
- Destiny Chapel
- Fresh Hope Community
- Gates of Praise
- Gateway People’s Centre
- Grays Baptist Church
- Grays Methodist Church
- Grays Team Ministry – St. Peter & St. Paul’s, Grays
- Grays Team Ministry – St. Mary’s, Little Thurrock
- Grays Team Ministry – St. Clement’s, West Thurrock
- Grays Team Ministry – All Saints, Chafford Hundred
- House of Praise
- New Covenant Church, Corringham
- Open Door
- RCCG House of the Lord, South Ockendon
- RCCG Fruitful Land, Tilbury
- Salvation Army, Stanford
- Socketts Heath Baptist Church
- St Margaret’s, Stanford
- St Marys, North Stifford & St Cedds, Stifford Clays
- St Stephen’s, Purfleet, & St Michael’s, Aveley
- Thurrock Christian Fellowship
- United Reformed Church, Grays
Churches from outside Thurrock
- Mile End East London Tabernacle
- Upminster Baptist Church
- Beautiful Remnant (band)
- Inspirational Youth Call
- GDOP London
- Thurrock Council
- Transformation Thurrock
Watch out here for more news of Rock Thurrock events as they come up.
Pictures top to bottom:
- general view of the conference room at Thurrock Hotel
- The BGEA’s Gary Cobb
- praying again
- Alan Field of Aveley Christian Centre with Colin Baker and Jonathan Oloyede
- praying for the young people
- a young person being prayed for
- Colin Baker
- The Rock Thurrock logo