The 12th (we think!) annual start-the-year Thurrock Leaders’ Prayer Retreat took place on Thursday 5 January 2017. It was held at St Catherine’s Church, Princess Margaret Avenue, East Tilbury Village, just next to Tilbury Fort.
Being on the edge of the land where the Thames really begins to fan out from river to estuary, the sense of retreat is accentuated. This is the place where St Cedd landed in the 650s in the next part of his mission to the East Saxons having already built a church at Bradwell on the Dengie Peninsula, another remote edge. East Tilbury was then the only Tilbury, a popular place for fording the wider, shallower river and end of a Roman road. In later years it was one of a number of ferry crossings for pilgrims travelling to and from Walsingham, Canterbury and Europe, and there is a popular story that St Catherine’s is without a steeple thanks to Dutch cannon fire from a ship sent up the Thames in the late 1600s.
Present for all or some of the day were 13 representatives of Thurrock’s church:
- Colin Baker (pastor, Grays Baptist Church)
- David Bareham (leader, Community Church)
- Celia Brockhurst (St Erkenwald’s, Barking and Open The Book, Thurrock)
- Dennis Brockhurst (St Erkenwald’s, Barking)
- Jimi Fawehinmi (New Covenant Church, Grays)
- Chris Ford (warden, St Catherine’s)
- Kim Ford (St Catherine’s)
- Tim Harrold (Transformation Thurrock)
- Andy Higgs (rector, Stifford Parish)
- Bob Love (St Cedd’s, Stifford Clays)
- Solomon Momodu (pastor, Faith Foundation Fellowship Centre)
- Jokey Poyntz (curate, St Margaret\s, Stanford-le-Hope)
- Maggie Watts (Grays Methodist Church)
Some apologies were also received.
The Retreat Day commenced at 9am with Kim Ford reading out the contents of a Christmas card sent to St Catherine’s by a visitor. It says:
In the coming months and year; may the Lord bless and prepare you, so you will be open to his Holy Spirit move of renewal for his church.
May you be ready to receive the broken, hurting and lost people he wants to add to your number as his Holy Spirit move of revival gains momentum.
May you watch and be amazed for he who began a good work in you will see it to completion. After all, no one, nothing can thwart his plans!
PS May none of us be left standing on the platform when God’s train moves!
Dennis offered the thought that God interrupted eternity to meet with us.
Celia added, “The One unbound by time and space chose to be bound for us.”
Colin continued these thoughts by saying, “… so he could make us part of his eternal plans.”
Kim then led a time of worship using a selection of CD tracks.
Meditations – choice of two
- Those present were asked to spend some time on their own or with one other person.
- As you discuss, consider and pray, ask: what is God saying to me and to the church of Thurrock?
Coming together after 15 minutes or so, the following feedback was given (in brief), as to what is God saying to me and to Thurrock?
- we must get God’s perspective on what the new thing is, not our’s
- shake up and wake up to the kingdom perspective – ‘on earth as it is in heaven’
- take us out of the comfort zone, into new wineskins, as the new doesn’t fit into old wineskins
- perceiving the new thing is an encouragement – God makes a way (in the desert)
- step out into the new thing and don’t bind God in our own perceptions
- be looking for new actions and encourage others
- eight things…
- giving and receiving – spend more time in God’s presence; plug into mains and get charged!
- pruning – shed off the weights; don’t say yes to everything, but individually and corporately on certain things
- nourishment and sustenance – if the church of Thurrock feeds on the word, the ‘nation’ of Thurrock will follow into its light
- eagle, divinity and majesty – God is revealing to us our identity as sons and daughters of God and the bride of Christ
- this time is valuable
- it’s hard to stop the old things
- Jesus went to ordinary folk
- the ‘parable of the garden’
- he & Celia had an inability to maintain the old high maintenance garden at their home
- the new garden required a complete pruning back of the old
- it wasn’t not cheap, but an investment
- the rosebuds are frozen – will they ever bud?
- it’s as if they’re stuck between states
- don’t allow negativity
- beware of being sidetracked
- it it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
- continued faithfulness in relationships with God and each other
- we require the power of God through prayer and the Holy Spirit to see fruitfulness
- don’t cling onto a thing
- pruned if you do, pruned if you don’t!
- take a step of faith like Elijah who went ‘off piste’ outside the Jewish law when he built the altar
- Baal Perazim (2 Samuel 5:20) – the Lord who breaks out like water, or the Master who explodes
- Lake Baikal (Siberia) has 330 rivers entering it (denominations) but only one (Angara) flowing out (kingdom)
- it may not have the largest surface area, but is the deepest, holding 20% of earth’s fresh water
- seeing is looking at the surface and the shallows – perceiving is diving into the deep and the depths (borrowed from quote by Roy Edworthy)
- New Forms of church in unconfined unity – ‘church-outside-church’
- we want an ‘ever increasing kingdom’
Prayer for Thurrock
After a break, a map of the borough was laid out on the floor.
- There is a hunger across the borough, borne out by an ‘orphan spirit’ caused by a sense of displacement
- “Hear O hear O land, hear the word of the Lord” (Godfrey Birtill) – hear O hear O Thurrock, hear the word of the Lord!
- Give back to Thurrock a (right) sense of pride (self-esteem and self-worth)
- Grays used to be known as the Holy City (on account of the number of churches and businesses run by Christians in the early 20th centrury) – raise up a new ‘holy city’
- Raise up intercessors and fresh evangelism initiatives for Thurrock
- City on a hill: There was once a pagan temple (causewayed enclosure) next to the Brentwood Road (A128) on the rise between Chadwell and the Orsett Cock because its fires would’ve been seen from the Thames as heathen people came from Europe in pre-Roman times – we prayed that the present and future church of Thurrock would be a brighter beacon of Christ’s glory to the region with an influence that spreads beyond
- For the church of Thurrock to be faithful and to intentionally build on the Declaration to Unity made at Thurrock Pentecost 2016 (held 14 May)
- The safety of the church of Thurrock’s ‘neighbours’, i.e., our fellow citizens – “Do not plot harm against your neighbour, who lives trustfully near you.” (Proverbs 3:29)
- Declaration over the borough using Isaiah 64:2 – “No longer will they call you (Thurrock) Deserted, or name your land (Thurrock) Desolate. But you (Thurrock) will be called Hephzibah (‘my delight is in her’), and your land (Thurrock) Beulah (‘married’); for the Lord will take delight in you (Thurrock), and your land (Thurrock) will be married (united with and in God).”
After a mid-afternoon break, those still present broke bread together and then prayed with each individual and couple, releasing words, pictures and visions.
The TLP Retreat Day ended at approximately 4.30pm.
We would like to thank Chris & Kim Ford of St Catherine’s for their generous hospitality throughout the day.