Last night (Monday 6 September) sixteen people representing 14 churches gathered together at Grays Baptist Church to discuss the Rock the City / Epicentre vision.

PICT2100Churches represented were Grays Baptist Church; Socketts Heath Baptist Church; Destiny Chapel (South Ockendon); Aveley Christian Centre; Thurrock Christian Fellowship; Gateway People Centre (aka Grays Pentecostal Church); Fruitful Land (Tilbury); Chafford Hundred Community Church; the 4 churches of the Grays Team Ministry; and the church-in-the-house.

“There was a good turn out of representatives from a number of churches at this meeting,” said Edwin Hughes, who’s ‘carrying’ the Epicentre vision. “Despite some notes of caution there was a general feeling that we should try to proceed with doing something for our youth groups in a unified coalition.
If the Government can do it we certainly ought to be able to!”

The evening began with Colin Baker, pastor at Grays Baptist Church, outlining the vision thus far, and explaining the relationship between Rock The City and Epicentre. He said that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) were keen to set up something in Thurrock for 2011, ahead of the Olympics in 2012, and their own plans for the UK in 2013.

Colin went on to explain that prayer will be key (that’s where Transformation Thurrock comes in), and it is part of the vision to equip and enable young people to take on the whole prayer aspect and in doing so come to ‘own’ Epicentre. “To reach this generation we must reach them through relationship,” Colin said.

Part of this will be to ‘bring a friend’ to the various aspects of the whole of Epicentre – the lead-in, the Rock The City event, and the follow-up – and to engage in Community Action Projects, demonstrating God’s love, especially in this time of austerity and when locals are looking to volunteers and the church to make projects happen.

Some of the training is based on Matthew 4:19 – “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”. The programme is called FM419 and it teaches young believers:

  • how to live an effective Christian life
  • how to live a victorious Christian life
  • the Christian’s witness
  • how to follow-up and care for new believers

The central Rock The City event – working title: ‘ROCK THURROCK’ – is imagined to be held in a Big Top and attract at least 2000 young people. Billy Graham’s 19-year-old grandson Will Graham will speak, being an effective communicator of the gospel. Colin said that because of the enormity of the task, “This is bigger than any one church – without unity we’ll fail”.

PICT2101Colin added, “It’s not about registering decisions, but about making disciples.” The follow-up to ‘Rock Thurrock’ will be a discipleship course called Velocity which covers a number of topics aimed at helping new believers become established in their faith in Jesus. “The goal is to turn the heart of a generation towards God”, Colin emphasised.

There followed a time of pray in small groups during which time people shared with each other there thoughts and feelings about Epicentre.

Annemarie Day (Aveley Christian Centre) said Epicentre would fulfill her vision that “God is going to put Thurrock on the world map”. John Burt (Grays Baptists) passionately declared that “when we get in unity he (i.e. the devil) will flee… we have the same Spirit whatever label we hang around our necks,” and that “Thurrock has the possibility of being an epicentre”. Frank Gaisie (pastor, Destiny Chapel) reminded us of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. Andrew Lisgarten (Grays Baptists) suggested that local youth leaders could come together and put on a gathering for young people from across Thurrock’s churches to promote the Epicentre vision.

Discussion followed, mainly about timing and intent, and actions were agreed. Edwin sums them up as follows:

  • An outline proposal to have a five year vision for unified church youth development and outreach.
  • For that project to be named Thurrock Epicentre.
  • As part of Thurrock Epicentre to incorporate working with Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to run a Rock The City Project (or whatever else they may call it) in 2011 with the Event element being held sometime in September.
  • A committee of youth leaders from across the churches established to meet and plan a youth event for the youth of all churches from across the borough to be held in the next two months in order to inform and enthuse those attending to engage with the Epicentre project.
  • A committee of representatives from across the churches established to oversee and plan the whole Thurrock Epicentre project and to try and move it forward.
  • To make a decision by the end of November as to whether to proceed with the BGEA Rock The City project depending on the outcome of our own youth event.

The evening closed with Frank leading us in prayer with the the Youth Leaders who were present (see top picture).

The next meeting will be on Monday 27 September for the aforementioned ‘Thurrock Epicentre Committee’. Representatives from the BGEA will be present. Colin says, “The idea of this meeting will be to get a clear guide on our way ahead so that the committee can go ahead with some confidence.”

“This caterpillar seems to be gathering speed!” he says.

Bottom pic: Edwin and Colin