Every Sunday at 11 am we have a Family Church Service. On the first & third Sunday of the month Holy Communion is celebrated at this service. (Please note that occasionally services take place at Brookmans Park URC – check our Calendar page)
A bit of History
It has long been a source of irritation that few people in Potters Bar appear to know the location of the United Reformed Church; however mention Tilbury Hall and there is instant recognition. As a consequence in 2012 our nursery school, long referred to locally as Tilbury Nursery, accepted the reality of the situation and changed its trading name accordingly.
But why Tilbury Hall? In the early part of the twentieth century Horace Tilbury owned a baker’s shop at the corner of Mutton Lane and the High Street where Canada Life now stands. Behind the shop lay a very large field where Sunday School children from north London would come to hold their summer picnics refreshed by Horace’s products. Horace was very public spirited and as he approached retirement in the 1930s he divided the field and covenanted portions suitable for a new cottage hospital (now Tesco), a cricket ground, a bowling green and a fire station.
Horace’s wife was a member of the growing Congregational Church and so the Church benefitted also when in 1938 he gave a 2.5 acre site (roughly where Tesco’s filling station now stands) to allow it to expand further.
A replacement Church was designed and foundations laid but in September 1939 the war intervened and the site was requisitioned for the war effort to build inter alia an Air Raid Precautions (ARP) station. By 1952 when the land was returned to the Church it had been decided that it would be better to remain on the Darkes Lane site, so the land was eventually sold and the money used to fund the present Church complex which was opened in 1966 and leave sufficient capital, the interest on which would provide for future maintenance.
As well as offering a larger Church, the additional facilities also took account of members interests by including a stage for theatrical productions and a badminton court sized hall. In these pre Wyllyotts days when the main alterative was Oakmere House, Tilbury Hall quickly became a hub for the local community and was much in demand.
Roll on fifty plus years and the facilities are still very popular although the usage profile is different as badminton has long gone and stage shows are infrequent. In addition the reduction in interest rates means that major maintenance projects are now largely funded from the diminishing capital while running costs are higher as paid staff have had to assume some of the tasks previously undertaken by volunteers.
How best to deal with the changed situation is still under discussion by the Elders but Robert will unveil the latest Church accounts at the AGM on Thursday 19th March when it is hoped that members will make every effort to attend.
Another important event this month is the dedication of our defibrillator. This will take place after the morning service on Sunday 8th March when we will be joined by several of those involved in the project including County Cllr John Graham and his wife (John gave us a grant from his Locality budget which paid for the cabinet), Mark Herbert (Adrian Gray’s brother’s son-in-law) who in recent years has looked after all our electrical needs but on this occasion donated his time to install the defibrillator, and Dave and Arline Hursey who, as trustees of ‘Defibrillators in Public Places’ set up after the death of their son James, sourced the equipment for us. (Those who would like to know more about their charity should look up www.dipps4james.co.uk).
on behalf of the Elders
Geoffery Peterson’s Monthly Message
Once a month we go to our Abbey and Cathedral of St Albans for the Free Churches Service which is usually held on the first Wednesday of each month. This January we went along as usual, and the service, the time being post-Christmas, was themed on the Epiphany. Epiphany is a time when the Church looks at the early years of Jesus’ life. The Church calendar then leads us into Lent, Easter-time and Pentecost in that order. This year Epiphany ends on February 23rd, Lent starts with Ash Wednesday 26th February, and Easter Day falls on 12th April. This month I shall write about the time of Epiphany, so back to the Abbey and the Free Church Service.
The service is a short-ish one, with the usual structure of about four songs, a prayer time and then a short talk or observation on a spiritual theme. The Free Church Chaplain, Simon Carver of Dagnall Street Baptist Church was leading the worship and at one point in the service he chose an unusual song with the first line;-
‘When Jesus came to Jordan to be baptised by John ….’.
The tune was familiar to me but the words are not in our Potters Bar Church song books; which is a pity as the words and structure are both well crafted. The song starts with one event in the early life of Jesus and then leads into the rest of his life, the story of your Redemption.
Luke tells Theophilus that John (the Baptiser) was teaching the people in the province of Galilee and telling them that they must change their ways of living and to turn to God and his ways and baptising those who committed to do so in the waters of the river Jordan. Jesus submitted to the baptism of John, but then something very special happened in that God recognised His Son. The account is in Luke Chapter 3 verses 21 and 22.
Matthew gives a similar account in Chapter 3 verses 13-17; and so does Mark in Chapter 1 verses 9-11. Do take time to read these accounts and ponder on them.
The first verse of the song goes –
When Jesus came to Jordan
To be baptized by John,
He did not come for pardon,
But as his Father’s Son.
He came to share Repentance
With all who mourn their sins,
To speak the vital sentence
With which Good News begins.
The last four lines tell us three important things about our relationship with God our Father –
- that Jesus actually shares our repentance of not putting God first in our lives,
- that we confess the fact and do so by ‘speaking the vital sentence’. Paul tells us this ‘sentence’ in his letter to the church at Philippi – see Philippians Chapter 2 verse 11, and
- that the Good News starts here.
I think that we tend to forget that the songs we sing are often designed to be a teaching vehicle for the tenets of our faith, and this was most certainly true in earlier times when ordinary people could not read for themselves. When you have read (and re-read) the first verse and savoured its meaning, I challenge you to the second verse –
He came to share temptation,
Our utmost woe and loss,
For us and our Salvation
To die upon the Cross.
So when the Dove descended
On him, the Son of Man,
The hidden years had ended,
The age of grace began.
The first four lines give us hope in that He is with us in our lives, and that Salvation is a real and continuing condition throughout our lives. The hidden years of His life – the Bible tells us very little of his growing up over the span of about thirty years. Jesus’ baptism was the point at which the Father gave his acknowledgement and seal upon His Son and His purpose in your Salvation. Here the infinite period of Grace begins for Him and for us.
Now for the final verse which is both a Prayer of Commitment, and the Assurance of the Gift of Pentecost;-
Come, Holy Spirit, aid us
To keep the vows we make,
This very day invade us,
And every bondage break.
Come, give our lives direction,
The gift we covet most:
To share the Resurrection
That leads to Pentecost
This News Letter is the first of the New Year 2020, so I wish you many Blessings in your Christian life as we progress into the New Year, and as our Nation embarks upon a new identity and role. Next month we shall prepare for Easter time and Resurrection Sunday.
We have much to look forward to into 2020 !
[ I acknowledge that the words are drawn from © 1980 Hope Publishing Company, 380 S Main Pl, Carol Stream, IL 60188]