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A Surprise Wedding

Paul Beasley-Murray

One Sunday afternoon, we had a surprise wedding. Over 120 guests came to church for what they thought was a tea party, but to their surprise their hosts announced that they were getting married – there and then! Even more surprising was that most people thought the couple concerned were married – they had children, and even shared the same surname. So it really was a surprise! The reasons for the situation were complex. There had been a messy divorce, and a long-drawn out problem with contact. So, at the time, the best thing had seemed for the woman to move in with her beloved, changing her name by deed poll in the process. They had always wanted to get married, but then yet other factors arose, and so there was further delay. Then the ‘wife’ wanted to be baptised, and at that point it seemed to me that we needed to ‘regularise’ the situation. So at last we did. Needless to say, the couple concerned got many plaudits – everybody was so delighted to share in the joy of the occasion. Somewhat unusually, I too got a host of plaudits. Modesty forbids me from quoting from the emails received! However, in the light of those comments I thought that it might be worthwhile reproducing the sermon I preached, in the hope that it might be of help to other ministers who find themselves in a similar situation.

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Why do Christians disagree?

David Atkinson

‘I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to agree in the Lord.’ St Paul seems to have a lot to say about Christians agreeing. In the letter to the Philippian church where Euodia and Syntyche belong, he writes of ‘standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one ...

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Coming In To Land

Andrew Knowles

There’s a tipping point at which retirement becomes inevitable – rather like the moment you feel an aircraft dip slightly as the long descent to landing begins. The time has come to turn off your laptop, fold your table, and fasten your seatbelt . . . My tipping point occurred, ...

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Our ministry in the Rhondda

David Brownnutt

Editor’s note: Dave and Jane have been our friends since we first met as young teachers way back in 1975. They went to live and work in Cwm Rhondda 13 years ago, and have developed a small, but unique ministry to their neighbours which contains important lessons for all of us who seek to minister in a mostly post-Christian context. This is Dave and Jane’s story, told in their own words.

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A Funeral Service: For Whom?

Ted Hale

It may seem to be an obvious question to ask about any service we are called to conduct - "Who is it for?" The truth is that I have attended and heard of funeral services where this question has definitely not been asked in any depth; nor an answer given which could be considered Christ-like. As a result, the services have not been helpful occasions or worthy of the name "Christian". So I would like to explore some of the possible answers.

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Skilful Shepherding 1: The Gift of Remembering


When I re-entered the pastorate after six years in Chaplaincy, one of my former college lecturers, who had had three successful, long-term pastorates, passed a message to me. He simply told me to “Do the basic things well.” I took that to mean focus on good pastoral care, attentive preaching, ...

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Christians, Music & the Digital Age

Philip Joy

Is it right for a Christian to download free music or videos from YouTube? Probably of far greater concern to the Lord Jesus than our present muddle over the rights and wrongs of Gay monogamous relationships is the issue of audio piracy among the people of God – basically: theft, ...

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Skilful Shepherding 2: A Note Just To Say….


One of the simple things to do well is sending cards and notes to follow up on pastoral situations. It astonishes me how much the thoughtful, hand-written card/note to a member of a congregation means to the recipient. Sometimes months later, the card is still to be found in pride ...

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The Least Read Best Seller?

Ray Vincent

Growing up in a Baptist church in Wales in the 1940s and 1950s, I learned about the Bible through Sunday School, Young People’s Fellowship Bible studies and ‘grown-up’ sermons. In day school too, although compulsory Religious Education was rather half-heartedly observed even in those days, we at least got some, ...

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Book Reviews

Ministry Today

You are reading Issue 59 of Ministry Today, published in November 2013.

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