A month ago, it was our privilege to be able to visit our sister church in St Louis, Missouri. It’s called Grace Church, and that’s what we have in common as churches on different sides of the Atlantic- we are sinners saved by the grace of God. You can find their website here.
Often we find ourselves praying for those we have never met. It’s exciting when we get to meet those we’ve been praying for. And that was the case a few weeks ago. We could meet pastor Mike McLaughlin and his family, as well as some of the elders and some of the congregation. It was memorable to meet a young lad who had been praying for us- we were humbled. We managed to spend 2 Sundays with our Grace Church family, and I relished preaching there for the first time.
They really welcomed us warmly and made us feel at home. Our children were also blessed by spending time with the Grace Church youth group, led by Will Cote.
Time will tell how our relationship will develop. But there are 2 obvious ways in which our relationship with Grace Church is a growing one.
First of all, there’s an embryonic plan for a team from Grace to come over and help us in outreach, perhaps in the form of a summer Holiday Club. Watch this space.
Secondly, one of Grace Church’s own folk- Matt Wightman- has just moved to Kirkcaldy, to study at ETS for 3 years, and to be a help and encouragement to us where he can, and vice versa. This was an unexpected encouragement, and underlines how small the world now is and that the blessings from partnering with other churches can come in ways we would never have anticipated.
As well as visiting Grace Church, I was also able to meet with several local PCA pastors and leaders, at the Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church in St Louis (pictured below). This was a great opportunity to encourage other local PCA congregations to partner up with a UK church. We have a network called the PCA-UK partnership, which was pioneered by Rev Ed Norton, a pastor of Independent Presbyterian Church, Memphis; Ed drove the 4 hours to come and speak (a short drive for an American!), giving an overview of the work, while I gave a snapshot of the current state of the church in Scotland, and how transatlantic partnerships can be a mutual blessing.
Whatever happens next, we shall keep praying for our brothers and sisters in Grace Church, and that is no small thing.