As your pastor, I don’t always get the opportunity to speak personally to each of you in our loving congregation here at HillSide. So this monthly letter: Just a Word, will not only serve as some information on what is up and coming in our community but also a time for me to reflect on my 15 years with you leading HillSide.
Our Lord Jesus said, “Where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20). I remember starting HillSide as a church with almost that many, under 20 people as a church plant from Edenvale Methodist.
We met in Dent road and in the first sermon I used Dominoes, and reflected on how we all affect each other either negatively or positively. I was a younger man, about to be a father, I can’t believe Emily and Rachel are now 12 and 9 years old.
HillSide has grown since then, but it has not been an easy or steady journey for our congregation. And today we face new challenges with new faces (and some old ones) and newer faith. Let’s just mention some of these challenges shall we?
- There is a pruning going on at HillSide at the moment, especially in the area of worship leading and worship. Most of our worship leaders have moved on to serve in other churches or serve elsewhere in our church. It is like we have come full circle to when Lara and I led every week so many years ago when we were first birthed. I don’t believe for a second that this is a negative thing. I believe God is raising up new worship leaders at HillSide who will be able to manage the commitment required to be worship leaders, have the humility for themselves to be led in worship while attending services at HillSide, and understand the ethos and direction of where our worship is going.
- This is a challenging time for HillSide. With my family leaving to the UK (I will talk about this in the next point) I sense unease within our congregation. What will happen to HillSide after so many years with Brian as our pastor? Will our church die? Will we change so much I won’t enjoy it anymore? Should I be planning (like some are) to look for another church? Honestly, I don’t have clear answers to these questions but allow me to share the following:
There are new developments in Linbro Park, where our open property lies. The unreasonable council restrictions are slowly being met we are told by bigger developers in the area. The interest bearing agreement with Dave regarding the sharing of our property has been transferred to one that is profit shared. But Dave and I agree: our first prize intention is not to sell but to split the erven and for Dave and our church to build and develop a new home. It might not come fast as we like, but I think if we are focused and faithful, we could be worshipping on that site sooner than we think.
- We have secured a good minister and pastor in Allan’s coming to serve from Christmas day 2020. He comes with a wealth of experience and ministerial expertise, and just might be what we need to take us into the future.
- We have a very committed core within the HillSide congregation who will carry and care and commit to Hillside. This committed core seeks to see HillSide thrive as a church community. And so I invite you, don’t consider jumping ship at this time. Embrace the change, get excited about our new prospects, and don’t let go of the vision. And whatever you do: don’t miss one week of our new preaching series: Not by accident: Intentional Spiritual growth as we train spiritually to be formed into Christ-likeness.
On a more personal note, as you may know my family and I have accepted a call to serve and minister under the Methodist Church in the UK. We are very excited about this new adventure and new possibilities the change will bring. We have not heard yet regarding exactly where and what I will be stationed to and trust God in the process. Please pray for me and my family at this time and forgive me if I at times as your pastor look distracted, preoccupied or stressed.
On a parting note: we as a church have never given and cared more in our outreach programs than we do know. For sure we continue to make real positive difference in the schools and lives of the community around us. That’s something worth keeping.
The beauty of Jesus’ promise rings over all our lives: He promises to be amongst us. Keep gathering as HillSiders as Jesus is certainly in our midst.