Pause for Thought February 2016

United we stand

At the end of January many churches throughout the world celebrate the ‘Week of Prayer for Christian Unity’. This is an annual time for the worldwide church to pray for unity, to echo the prayer of Jesus himself in John’s Gospel for his followers “That they may be one”.

The resources for this year were prepared by Christians in Latvia, a country described as “a crossroads where Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox regions meet.”
Barnack could be described as a village where, until recently, Baptists, Anglicans and Methodists meet.

As a sign of unity, Anglicans cancelled their Sunday morning service that week and were encouraged to gather with the Community Church in Barnack. The Community Church were encouraged to join with the Anglicans in the evening for their monthly alternative Service.

We are writing this article before the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity takes place, so we don’t know how successful this combining will be. But we do know that at least one person in Barnack village would have been at both services if she could – Yvonne Goodwin. Yvonne was committed to Christian Unity, a regular member of both the Community Church and the Anglican Church in Barnack. She was passionate about unity, and was always seen leaving the Anglican church on Sunday to walk over to the Community Church. She was a crossroads where the Community Church and Anglican Church met. She was also at home with both young and old, babies, young families, the elderly. She would sit quietly in prayer, and then dance in the aisles for joy.

How fitting that her funeral service should take place at the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. How fitting that her funeral service becomes a sign of unity between the congregations in Barnack in the way it is jointly conducted.

Such things remind us that what unites us is bigger than what divides us. And as we look at the wider communities of our villages, at our nation and at the world, celebrating what we have in common, looking for how we can encourage and support each other, it is our prayer that the Church in Barnack can lead by example. That would please Yvonne, but more importantly, it would please God. As it is written in Psalm 133:

‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity… For there the LORD bestows his blessing.

Rev Dave Maylor and Julie Stanton