One day in early November 2019 at IBTSC, I remember sitting down with Mike Pears, trying to form a plan. As we chatted through this new ministry challenge, I realised what I should have already known, ‘don’t go to Kelso with your fixed ideas, instead, be prepared to listen, to see where God is already working, don’t make assumptions, be ready for the newness of God.’
A tale of four churches
I often tell people (perhaps with misplaced pride), that I am the first pastor of KBC for over 30 years, but the credit doesn’t go to me, it really goes to the nine faithful people I encountered over a year ago,
five of whom being over eighty-five have waited and prayed for those long thirty years for the rebirth of this church. God is faithful. As one new church supporter put it to me, ‘you are just some Velcro to which people are coming to stick’. Looking back at the old church it is now in disrepair, a monument of the past, now with dry-rot and subsidence, it is my job to sell this 150 year old building.
Prior to lock-down in March we met here in a former public toilets, capable of squeezing in around 24 people at a push, it has the feel of a life-raft, a place to stay safe and secure; however, ironically pandemic restrictions mean we cannot meet here any longer.
When we are not holding a zoom service, we meet on Sunday afternoons in a magnificent Church of Scotland building. Due to Covid restrictions there is no singing, and people have to wear masks and remain socially distant, but it seems to work. Of course the true church has never been the building, and as the ecclesia, we are growing in number, mature Christian people are coming to join this new church; at the time of writing we have perhaps 40 followers of Jesus who want to be part of this church rebirth, people who have waiting for a church just like this one to rebirth in this small market town in the Scottish Borderlands.
A new formation of ministry
How I do ministry these days has been dictated by Covid restrictions, but this has enabled me to engage with people carefully and sensitively. There are over 50 independent trading shops in Kelso, so I have started here, finding out where God is already at work; listening and hanging out with people. I have many stories of God moments where I’ve almost missed God at work: From cafes, flower shops and Estate Agents to a bike shop and even an army surplus store. One story is the most treasured to me; every week I go and pick up some artisan sourdough bread from the bread lady at her door, and over the weeks I have gradually discovered her heart to reach the poor, as well as her dearly held Orthodox faith. God’s Spirit is at work, I can only pray that I am sensitive to His leading both now and in the future, when normal work is made possible again after Covid restrictions fade.
‘Rob spent a sabbatical week with us here at IBTSC reflecting and praying before the starting ministry in a new place. One year on we are delighted to hear his news’