As PULSE moves from Commitment to Kindness we look back at a month of both physical and faith based endeavour

Today (Sunday January 28th) we closed our morning Service by welcoming three of our children’s groups back into church to share with us what they had been learning about throughout January. 

Collectively Faithbuilders, Inters and Excavate, that’s all our children aged between 5 and 11 operate under the name PULSE. And based on a passage of scripture from 1 Timothy chapter 4 verse 8: “Training the body has some value. But being godly has value in every way. It promises help for the life you are now living and the life to come” they have been working their way through a programme that combines tough physical exercise with four equally  challenging tasks namely: practicing hearing about God, practicing praying to God, practicing talking about God and finally practicing living for God. 

The project is so designed that what ever is being discussed on a Sunday can also be talked about at home throughout the week; with both the children and their families being encouraged to fill in and return their own, personalised log books.  

Below is a short video which leads you through January and which shows you step by step each of the four different exercises. 

Today’s Service finished with the church praying for the children and then the children praying for the church; hardly rocket science but a rare and most welcome two way engagement.  

In February PULSE moves on to engage with what the bible in general and what Jesus in particular has to say about Kindness. If the commitment the children have shown to Commitment is anything to go by I can safely predict that from here on in not only will Moortown Baptist Church itself be awash with it but so too will lots and lots of local homes.

Engage with ENGAGE and discover how from Ukraine to Sudan and from Mozambique to the Thai-Burma border BMS World Mission is transforming lives

Originally called The Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Amongst the Heathen, BMS World Mission as it’s now known works among some of the most marginalised and least evangelised people, in some of the most fragile places on earth.

Its aim is to bring life in all its fullness through seven key ministries: church, development, education, health, justice, leadership and relief.

Founded in 1792, BMS alongside a whole raft of partner organisations now works on four continents and is supported by both individuals and by local churches from not only here in the UK but across the world. 

Over the years, here at Moortown Baptist Church we have not only seen a number of our members go off to serve with BMS World Mission, we’ve supported them as individuals and the society itself in a number of different ways. 

For instance some of us make one off or regular donations, even more have signed up to the BMS Birthday Scheme; on your birthday you receive a card but you send BMS a gift. We collect postage stamps, get sponsorship for fun runs etc. or we host Coffee for a Cause events. 

Nowadays the best way to keep up to date with everything that’s happening with BMS World Mission is to sign up to receive its ENGAGE magazine. Published totally free of charge three times a year you can arrange delivery either through the post or on line by visiting  

Recently, during a morning service Roger Robson the BMS World Mission Secretary here at MBC gave us an update on our contact with and support for the organisation. If you missed Roger’s presentation or you feel this is something you could support please have a word with him. 

The most recent edition of ENGAGE, Issue 40, comes complete with a 2018 Prayer Guide. Although, sadly, for security reasons some World Mission workers must remain anonymous this in addition to highlighting 365 prayer points really does personalise matters by not only introducing us to a number of individuals and families but also to the specific projects they are involved with.  

Messy Social – give it a whirl, 3pm this coming Sunday

Our first new style Messy Church – Messy Social is at 3pm this coming Sunday, 28th January. This will be an opportunity to hang out, play pool, table tennis, football, board games etc. All that and a hot meal!

As you would expect we are always glad of more help so if anyone would like to get involved in our  Messy Church team please see Cas or Graham.

Lulu and the Archbishop: Who Invented God? Haddon Willmer serves up some food for thought

Just now, the Church is thinking quite a bit about children and young people.  

Ever since I read it years ago, I have been gripped by this article, reporting the thoughtful interaction of liberal atheist parents, six year old Lulu, and Archbishop Rowan Williams about  Who Invented God?  

It raises issues not to be dismissed in five minutes. Lulu shows that the fundamental questions are simple enough for children to ask and to shape their life by.  Can the questions be stopped by religious inculturation and indoctrination? And the questions don’t go away with age.   

Would it not be a good thing to devote a whole day to share our understanding of these issues and our practice in relation to them? Or to give ourselves even more time to take this serious matter seriously?  

When his six-year-old daughter, Lulu, wrote a letter to God, journalist Alex Renton did his best to get her an answer. 

An article published in The Times on Good Friday 2011.

My daughter came home from primary school a few weeks ago and sat down to write a letter to God. It read “To God how did you get invented? From Lulu xo ” When she asked us to send it (by setting light to it and putting it up the chimney, as we do with letters to Father Christmas) several courses of action offered themselves.

Easiest of all, for us, would have been to fold the piece of paper and file it in the memory box — Lulu is 6 and hasn’t written more than a dozen letters in her life. Then we would have sat down and told her that God couldn’t be sent her letter or answer the question because, in our view, he didn’t exist. We would have said that he was invented by human beings, because they were rather puzzled by life and death and some other problems in between.

But that wouldn’t do. We (my wife and I, though I’m now going to stop speaking for her) try first to be honest with our children, but to follow that good principle here seemed self-indulgent. Selfish, in fact. In any case, the commitment to myth-busting in our house is already shaky — as shown by the Santa Claus rituals, not to mention occasional worship of the Tooth Fairy and that hideous Easter Bunny. I know people who don’t do Christmas and have stripped their children of the trammels of stockings and carols. But I can’t see the point. For one thing, you’re more likely to grow a teenager who embraces myths and cults, in reaction to rigid parental rationalism. Imagine the stories they’d tell about you to their friends.

More important, the desire to shield your children from delusion and falsehood is easily matched by the one that longs to protect their innocence, to let them learn about the world at a gentle pace and, indeed, learn for themselves, rather than always hand over your notion of what is what. Quite simply, I didn’t want to tell Lulu there was no God, and I could not tell her there was.

Not that that was the end of things to hum and ha about. Lulu’s new interest in the supernatural was eminently natural, of course, and welcome. Less comfortable was how much it was fuelled by her new school, not as an area of inquiry, but as a fact. Ridiculously ill-informed, we had no idea until last August that a state primary affiliated with a church would do quite so much God.

I like the idea of my child learning about the faiths and especially Christianity: it is the foundation of much that is lovely and important in our culture. I’m not revolted by the Bible’s “sinister fairy tales” as are some of the angry atheists of our times; though I, like Christopher Hitchens, did go at eight years old to the sort of boarding school where the book was used by the hypocrites and creeps who ran the place to arm themselves. That wasn’t much of an advert.

The Bible, taken highly selectively, is of course a pretty good introduction to the humanist moral system in which I’d like to see my children play a part. I have a copy of A. C. Grayling’s new “secular bible”: a wonderful enterprise, but it lacks the songs and the stories. No child should be denied Samson and Delilah. Or indeed Jael, the assassin and freedom fighter, with her lordly dish of butter and her sharpened tent peg.

I was happy that the Bible should have a role in Primary 1, but not at all that religious credo and worldly truths should be taught to my daughter as the same thing. Her adored, excellent teachers — thanks to whom she now writes letters — were giving out indubitable information (two and two equals four) with the same weight as the highly dubious (God loves you).

Within a few weeks of school starting last August we found her praying at bedtime. That was rather sweet, on first sight, but then I thought: shouldn’t we have been asked? I felt that the evening ritual of teeth-brushing, story, song and kiss — the most intimate between child and parent — had been rather invaded. And while teaching the habit of praying to God to help one be good is hardly corrosive to the liberties of a six-year-old, I felt already that her moral education had been taken out of our hands and off on to controversial ground. In a small way, I felt she had been insulted. My clever, kind girl didn’t need some unexplained superbeing’s help to be good, nor should she so lightly be invited to pass over the responsibility.

Deep in my gut, I disliked the fact that others were interfering with the mechanisms of her naturally emerging conscience. Offering her the consolations and excuses of religion was one thing, but what when they started with the threats? No child in my charge should have to make moral choices based on the fear of a god’s displeasure, or indeed of the fires of Hell.

And there was a further problem. My sister and her daughter, almost Lulu’s age, died in an accident last year. A beloved aunt went a few months before. While these awful things made no difference to my (lack of) religion — they did throw up the simple question: What do you tell the kids? When inevitably I was asked “Are they in Heaven?” I muttered something like “Lots of people are sure they are in Heaven: they’re in my heart.” I’m not proud of that, though I know I could have stepped up and lied if the full assurance had been required. Under the dubious moral code of my childhood, that would have been OK: a “white lie” to ease suffering.

But when, a few months after that disaster, she came back from school announcing that her grandmother’s recently deceased dog was in Heaven being looked after by St Francis of Assisi, I began to grow tired of nodding along. So when she asked God how he was invented, I cheered my little nascent rationalist. Only one step now to asking who invented God. And: why?

But that isn’t a small step. And then I thought: this isn’t my problem. There are people who believe in God who ought to be able to answer a fellow believer’s question. Some of them are paid to do it. Lulu’s letter is of their making, not mine. If they could satisfy her, I would keep out of it. For the time being.

First, I e-mailed her letter to both her grandmothers, and to some friends who are active Christians, The responses were interesting, and Lulu listened to them patiently. The grandmothers did best, perhaps because they’d faced these questions before. Both said that God did not have to be invented because He was always there, even for people who didn’t feel they needed Him. That He wasn’t actually a person, but “the power of love”. It took courage to have faith in Him, said one.

My Christian friends were less useful, but then they were the wrong people to ask. Of course they had had no trouble giving their children answers when the What is God? question emerged (usually at about six or seven years old). What if they were me? I wondered. One said he had no idea how he would deal with the letter as me, but why not ask an expert? He suggested Rowan Williams, whose writings on faith he admires.

So I sought the views of some of the professionals. After a bit of googling, I e-mailed a Jpeg of Lulu’s letter and a brief explanation to the Episcopalian Church in Scotland, where we live, to the Church of Scotland and to the Scottish Catholic Church. I did not mention my own views. For good measure, I sent it also to the head of theology of the Anglican Communion, based at Lambeth Palace.

I heard first from Monsignor Paul Conroy, of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland. He wrote this: “My reply would be along the lines of ‘God is like us — he wasn’t invented — but unlike us he has always been there. God is like someone we’ve always loved — we don’t remember when he came into our lives because like the people we love who have been there all our lives it’s as if we can’t imagine what it would be like without him’.” It seemed theologically on the button, but not much tailored to the six-year-old mind.

The Episcopalians and the Presbyterians didn’t reply. Lambeth Palace waited a couple of weeks and then asked me to tell Lulu that someone special was going to write to her. Eventually there came an e-mail from “Archbishop Rowan” (Lambeth Palace gave permission for the letter’s reproduction here).

Dear Lulu,

Your dad has sent on your letter and asked if I have any answers. It’s a difficult one! But I think God might reply a bit like this –

‘Dear Lulu – Nobody invented me – but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised. They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from. They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn’t expected.

Then they invented ideas about me – some of them sensible and some of them not very sensible. From time to time I sent them some hints – specially in the life of Jesus – to help them get closer to what I’m really like.


Michael Flowers

Michael Flowers, known to many of us for the tireless support, commitment and leadership he gave to Moortown Baptist Church has died at the age of 84. 

A Service celebrating Michael’s life will take place here at MBC at 1pm today, Friday January 26th. 

This lovely picture of Michael and June was taken by John Ritchie in the mid 1980s.

No Room… Graham’s blog

Wherever we look, today’s headlines are that there are no beds left in hospitals. This is awful but not surprising news, and of course it comes only a couple of weeks after Christmas, the time we all read and sing of there being no room at the inn.

Back in December I was at a prayer meeting when a young doctor shared the burden and pressure faced in his ward due to bed pressure, staff shortages and the delicate decisions made on referrals and discharging patients.

This week I have heard someone talking of Christians in another city taking on roles to offer support in an A&E ward.

All this not only speaks to me of the excellent work and commitment of NHS staff but also of overburdening pressures.

I don’t want to get into blame and political point scoring, but I do want to cry out that this isn’t right.

We must not tolerate there being no room at the hospital. Now I know there was no room at the inn and that this was a mark of hope in that it spoke of the humility of God in Christ and the overturning, bottom up power of the Kingdom of God. But today we do need voices to be raised, we do need care to be offered and we do need support to be given to all NHS staff as well of course to those who are missing out on the beds. 

Graham Brownlee

January 2018

It’s a new year and for PULSE that means it’s time to commit

There’s no time like the start of a new year to get into shape. That’s why last Sunday more than two dozen 5 to 11 year olds, together with their leaders could be seen |(and heard) working out to a high energy, super fit version of that age old party game Simon Says. 

But it wasn’t just the youngsters bodies that were benefiting from all this exercise. No, in PULSE January’s theme is Commitment and over the next four weeks we’ll be finding out how “being godly” takes as much commitment and as much regular practice as any bespoke exercise plan. 

The teaching in week one was based on the story from Matthew’s gospel about the wise and foolish men who each built a house, only for one to see it swept away by wind and rain. Using a extra strong box for the foundations of one and paper for the other the children first built two lego houses. Then as it was a exceptionally still and sunny day – not even a hint of drizzle – high pressure water guns were brought in to wreak havoc. However, it wasn’t all play as following this the youngsters split up into their own, age appropriate groups to delve deeper into this parable. 

This week’s Bottom Line was “Practice hearing and doing what God says” and the memory verse from 1 Timothy, Chapter 8 was “Training the body has some value, But being godly has value in every way. It promises help for the life you are now living and the life to come.” 

To close each of the children were given their own log book which week by week will help them engage their families in the material they have been talking, thinking and praying about here at church.

Below there is a gallery of pictures taken during the session. If you would like to see a larger version simply click on the image.


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