17th December 2020
‘The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.’ – Philippians 4: 6-7
As 2020 draws to a close, I felt prompted by God to write to all of you who call King’s home and express my gratitude for everything you have contributed to this church family over the last twelve months.
It has undoubtedly been a difficult and challenging year, yet it began with one of the most remarkable seasons of prayer I have ever seen at King’s. I want to thank you again for your positive response to the call to pray in January. Through the month, night after night, we gathered in our hundreds to bring our prayers and worship to God. As we cried out to Him, He met us powerfully, filling us afresh with faith for all that God has called us to. We had little idea at the time of how much we would draw on this in the months ahead, as the challenge of the Covid pandemic swept around the globe during February and March.
Deb and I flew back in from a three-week trip to southern Africa on 13th March, and two days later we had our last ‘normal’ King’s Sunday services for the year. As Covid numbers rose and a national lockdown was imposed, our fantastic Comms and Worship teams worked round the clock to put our services online. On Sunday 22nd March, King’s Online was launched. I want to thank all the staff and volunteers who have contributed to our online service provision – I never fail to be impressed by the quality and creativity of the content. (Particular thanks should go to our Comms team, who have worked tirelessly and given hours of creative energy to producing Kings Online.) And I want to thank all of you who have gathered week after week on your phones, tablets and laptops, in your living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms, to worship God and listen to His word online. The numbers joining us each week have been encouragingly and consistently high. People have watched our services from all over the UK and from many different nations. God finds opportunity in every circumstance, and moving services online has undoubtedly opened them up to many who might never have walked through our doors.
As March and April progressed, and Covid took its dreadful toll on the health of this nation, King’s was affected by illness and loss more than most UK churches I know. Tragically, some in our congregation lost family members to this awful disease, and many more were ill themselves. It was with great sadness that we learnt of the death of Mavis Stewart, a long-time member of King’s, who contributed so much over many decades to our church family and to the wider community. Then last week Iris Feasey, another long-time member, also passed away. Iris had been a faithful, prayerful part of King’s throughout most of her life. She was much loved by those of us who had the privilege of knowing her, and she will be sadly missed. Through these difficult months, I have been deeply moved by the way the church has responded to the pastoral challenge brought about by Covid. Thank you to all of you who have picked up the phone, given practical and emotional support, reached out to neighbours and served others in countless small acts. This year has proved that the church continues to be active even when in-person services are not possible – God’s church in action goes way beyond Sundays.
When lockdown started, the fantastic staff and volunteers at our Jericho Road Project transformed The Feast from a weekly sit-down meal for about 100 people to a hot meal delivery service three times a week. Between March and November, they have distributed an amazing 14,300 freshly made meals to people in need. I am also thrilled that King’s is now partnering with Love Your Neighbour to provide regular food hampers to people who need them, as well as debt advice and employment support.
Thank you also to all of you who have stepped forward to lead a group or have been part of one during this year. We have seen the launch of many more groups at King’s since March, and more people than ever have joined one. As our usual means of being together were stopped, we have learnt to embrace new technology and find innovative ways to support each other, pray, worship and grow together.
The end of May brought another tragedy, with the awful murder of George Floyd in the USA. The shocking event sparked renewed calls for racial justice, and protests about the unfair treatment of black and brown people took place in many nations, including the UK. The issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement were – and still are – felt deeply at King’s. I want to thank all of you at King’s for the way you have responded with such grace during this time. As a church, we continue to intentionally take steps to raise awareness, to speak up, to provide teaching and training opportunities, and to build an ‘Ephesians 2’ church.
I also want to thank you for your remarkable financial generosity in these uncertain times. I know that some of you have been furloughed, and sadly some have even lost their jobs because of the Covid crisis. Yet throughout this year, the church has continued to give faithfully and generously, enabling us to continue pressing forward with all that we believe God has called us to.
As the year progressed and Covid numbers began to decrease in the UK, there was a loosening of lockdown restrictions. For a few weeks, we all enjoyed the freedom of having small groups of friends in our gardens or meeting up in parks, and for a short while, even small gatherings in homes were permitted. Finally, we were able to begin in-person services again. Yet no sooner had we started than a second wave of Covid cases took hold in the UK. Lockdown was imposed again and we had to close our buildings once more. Though Covid numbers remain worryingly high in London, we are now able to start them again (within strict guidelines). However, the majority of us at King’s will still be worshipping online for the foreseeable future.
I could not finish this blog without thanking the fantastic team of staff at King’s. Throughout this year, they have responded to every change and challenge with commitment and faith. I am very proud of them all.
King’s you are a remarkable church. Whatever your Christmas looks like this year, whether you are with a few family and friends or on your own, I pray that you will know ‘the peace of God that transcends all understanding’. As 2020 ends, we look forward to all that 2021 will bring, knowing that Christ will sustain us and keep us whatever the future holds. Love and blessings to you all.
Steve will be taking a short break over Christmas and New Year and will be back in January.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham, Lee and Beckenham. The church has seen continued growth since the mid-1990s, both in terms of size and diversity.
As well as leading King’s, Steve hosts and leads Newfrontiers, a fellowship of apostolic leaders with hundreds of churches around the world.
Steve is married to Deb. They have three grown up sons and one grandson.