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'The Queen is an example to everyone. Doing this is a way for people to remember her'


Baptist churches have responded to the death of the Queen in a variety of ways, including opening their buildings for prayer and reflection, hastily re-organising services and creating plans to screen Monday’s funeral. Here's a snapshot of recent activity



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When news of the Queen’s death was announced on Thursday, 8 September, several Baptist churches shared messages and photos of Her Majesty on their websites and social media channels. The messages expressed condolence and offered prayer, with many highlighting the Queen’s Christian faith.
 
‘We are deeply saddened by news of the death of Her Majesty The Queen,’ wrote Leigh Road Baptist Church in Essex.
 
‘She led a life of active faith that was inspiring to many across the world. We are thankful for her years of dedicated service and extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the Royal Family at this time.’
 
Tabernacle Baptist Church, Penarth, posted this statement: ‘We thank God for the Life of our Queen and we pray for all her family and the nation tonight. A true lady of faith.’

 
'Like many others we are sad to hear of the death of her Majesty the Queen,' wrote Whitley Bay Baptist Church. 'We praise God for her life, her faith and her many years of service. Please continue to pray with us for the Royal Family at this difficult time.’

In Cambridgeshire, Bluntisham Baptist Church shared the following statement on its website

'It is with great sadness that we are processing the news of the death of our Queen, Elizabeth II. A shining light has gone from among us. The life and reign of Her Majesty showed her to be an advocate and defender of the Christian faith and a diligent servant of the realm and the Commonwealth.'

In Leicester, Stoneygate Baptist Church shared the following: 'We pray this evening for all those grieving Queen Elizabeth II, as a monarch and constant presence through many changing decades, but also as a mother and grandmother and great grandmother. We pray too for all those charged with guiding the country through this time of upheaval.'
 
 
Buildings open for prayer and reflection
 
Many have opened their doors to provide people with the space to offer prayers, give thanks and reflect.  
These included Colne Avenue Baptist Church in Millbrook, Southampton created a book of remembrance which people have been signing.
 
Pastor Chris Davis said, 'The Queen is an example to everyone. Doing this is a way for people to remember her.
 
'It’s important for people to have an opportunity to remember in whatever way they want, whether that’s signing the book or laying flowers. It’s not easy for everybody in our community to go up to London or even into Southampton, so this is somewhere people can come.'
 
The church was featured in the Southern Daily Echo, which quoted church member Mary Flint.
 
'I was glued to the TV watching her coronation,’ Mary said. ‘She’s always been there and gave her life to this country. I even called my eldest girl Elizabeth.
 
'Her faith has also come out since her death and as a church, our response is that she sets a lovely example.
 
'She has been an exceptional Queen and is held in high regards.'

Kingshill Baptist Church in Great Missenden, Bucks, opened on Friday afternoon for ‘personal prayer and reflections.’
 
Minister Martin Hatfield explained, ‘As the only church of any denomination in two villages, we opened our doors for a few hours on Friday afternoon. We set flowers and a few candles on a table, and simply opened the church and let people wander in if they wanted a place for reflection or prayer.
 
‘We had only a handful of people come in, but the action of offering something was felt to be important by the leadership team.’


Special services on Sunday
 
Many churches adapted their services on Sunday, 11 September to mark the Queen’s passing and remember her life, as well as provide space for people in their communities to grieve and reflect.
 
Upton Vale Baptist Church in Torquay posted this message on Saturday. ‘Tomorrow in our 10.30am service we will be thanking God for the service of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and remembering the Royal Family and our new King in our prayers.
 
‘However you’re feeling, UV is here for you.’
Morton Baptist Church in Leeds offered 'space' - 'a space to pray, to read, to sing, to dance, to fondly remember one monarch and to look forward to another.'  

'We had planned this time in the building weeks ago,' said Church Lead Shelley Dring. 'It was all the more special to have some space and have our doors open for those who were passing.'
   
Greenfield Church in Urmston, Manchester uploaded a special online service of prayer and reflection, in addition to its onsite service which included special prayers for Her Majesty, King Charles III, and everyone mourning the Queen.
 
The church normally produces an online service for those who cannot attend the onsite service, though this particular weekend minister Stephen Smith hadn't planned to do one. 'I take one Sunday in six ‘off’ from leading worship and preaching for my own wellbeing/mental health, and the online services have begun to fall into that pattern.
 
'However, when the news about the Queen broke, it felt appropriate to put something together; I’d already written the reflection for our weekly newsletter, so I adapted that and built the rest of the service around that. I think it was about the quickest I’d ever put one of these together!
 
'It’s actually our most-watched service since we began doing them during lockdown.' 
 
Laird Street Baptist Church in Birkenhead also created a special prayer of thanks, said minister Cathy Buntin.
 
‘We marked the time on Sunday with a minute silence and quiet reflective prayer for the Royal Family. Following this we sang a prayer of thanks for our Queen which was written especially for the occasion by our worship leader and sung to our National Anthem tune. We then followed on by singing God save the King. 
 
‘We followed this with our usual service, and it was quite poignant that our songs had been chosen prior to this and were so fitting. Our prayers of intercession were focused especially for the Royal Family and also giving thanks to God for our Queen's faith.’
 
The practical and emotional challenges involved in organising and leading a service a little more than two days after the death of the monarch were highlighted by Sean Fountain, minister of Pier Avenue Baptist Church, Clacton-on-Sea. Writing in his blog, he said:
 
‘All of my immediate plans were out of the window. A new sermon had to be prepared. All-age harvest festival was, definitely, inappropriate and had to be replaced by something that fitted the occasion. People needed to be notified of changes, rotas and plans redrafted. Remember, it is not only the minister that has to prepare.’
 
He continued, ‘As the service began, I faced the challenge of trying to bring all human emotions and feelings together with God’s word. As a fellowship, we wanted to hear what God was saying to us at this time. We looked at a beautiful passage from Isaiah 6 which begins;
 
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. (Isaiah 6: 1)
 
'I found a peace within those words. The solidity and anchor that I needed were still there and they were to be found in God who is both high and exalted, and yet, still touches the earth.
 
'This world is a place of constant change. Often, the changes are so small we hardly notice. Once in a while, they are so big they can leave us feeling lost. At those times when we feel lost, it’s good to know that God gives us a true anchor.’
 
 
Screening the Queen's funeral
 
A number of churches are planning to screen the funeral on Monday (19 September). One is Little Stoke Baptist Church in Bristol.
 
Minister Tania Vaughan explained, ‘Our church has been open at various times all week with a book of condolence, candles for lighting and a space for reflection. Many of the people that visited us and are known to us are older and on their own.
 
‘In discussion we realised that these people may find it upsetting and a bit lonely to watch the funeral on their own and so we have decided to screen it here at the church to allow those on their own come and watch it with others.’
 
Another is Thatcham Baptist Church, Berkshire. ‘We want to provide a community venue for people to watch the event,’ said minister David Taylor. ‘We’re especially thinking of people who might need some company or comfort as they watch the service, realising that for some people this event will have brought up memories of other bereavements.’
 
Speaking on Tuesday, he said, 'About 30 people came. There was a good atmosphere and it included people from the local community as well as church folk. Our asylum seekers from Iran and El Salvador also came and supported. They’ve really taken it on board. 

'One of the them wrote something rather touching: “The owner of the house took us all under her wing and shared her country and land with us”.'
 

 

 



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Baptist Times, 16/09/2022
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