At 17 I understood little about church or God so I had no reason to go near a church, except to attend weddings or funerals. During that year talking to my youth leader I came to a much clearer understanding of the reality of God and who Jesus was.
By God’s grace and mercy I found forgiveness and in the months following, I joined a Methodist church. With some 15 people attending, I was the youngest by 30 years or more.
What made me stay? What did I have in common with these people? The answer is not a lot, but that was of no consequence because two things made a huge impression on me. The first was the depth of their faith - it was real; these people lived out what they believed. Secondly they loved and supported me as I made my first steps of faith.
After we married my wife and I joined a Baptist church in South London. The support we were given in the early years of marriage and parenthood was of enormous significance in building our faith. It was a good environment for our children to grow up in, they were among people they could trust and we are still in contact with some of the friends they made there.
We are now both retired and for almost 20 years have been part of the family at Brighton Road Baptist Church where we have experienced that same love and support. We have made good friends and have been able to pass on some of the love and care that we have been so privileged to receive.
So, what does my church mean to me? It’s a place that has helped my faith grow, where I have been supported in tough times, and above all, the life of Jesus seen in the life of others has been both a challenge and a great encouragement. To sum it up it’s all about love, actually.