Church Meeting

Non-members may be curious to know about some of the topics discussed and decisions made at our quarterly ‘Church Meeting’. Here is a summary of the major items, disregarding things like Matters Araising and AOB:

5. Pastor’s Thanks

A kinder congregation was never known. The support given me during my mother’s illness and the generosity shown at the last Meeting warranted a formal acknowledgement.

6. Membership Application

In a congregational church, we vote on who to admit to membership. Before this ballot is taken, the deacons and I discuss the application and I interview them, to ascertain their spiritual state and whether Salem Chapel is indeed the right place for them. This is why I like people to have been attending a while and their theology to be roughly in line with our own. We may still have differences of opinion, but on fundamental doctrines we must be in agreement. Laxity in this regard may account for why so many of our chapels are doctrinally lame and spiritually decrepit, fit only to become a rich man’s second home.

7. Chapel open afternoons  

A couple have kindly volunteered to keep open the chapel between some Sunday services so walkers and locals can wander in, look around, receive the gospel and ask any questions. Enquiries are to be made to see whether we can serve teas and coffees to the public without falling foul of health & safety legislation.

8. Bread for Communion  

I have long favoured the use of matza, the unleavened bread better known to the Lord’s disciples for our communion. However, it was also requested that we better accommodate those folk who require gluten-free foodstuffs. Communion should include as many believers as possible, so enquires are being made to see whether matza bread can be obtained.

9. Bible Verse Sign

This was a brain-wave of mine from two years ago. Our graveyard attracts many visitors for its memorials and its stunning views, but there is little spiritual witness therein. A large slate upon which was written I AM THE RESURRECTIIN AND THE LIFE could be attached to our gable end. Unfortunately, even though it is a twentieth-century wall of little aesthetic or architectural value, it is part of the whole building's ‘listing’- which protects old structures from undue development. The local council, when we applied for permission, seemed to make things as difficult as possible without actually refusing. They insisted that it be attached to the mortar, not the stone; that screws were not visible; that it be low down, etc.

We are therefore now looking at supporting it from a base on the ground. Never was a Bible Text erected with so much difficulty! (Outside the Middle East or communist China, that is.)

10. Vinyl Banners

We shall be having made four large vinyl banners with texts, invitations and chapel information upon them. These will be attached temporarily to our railings, reminding locals and informing visitors we are open for business.

11. Baptistry

Many of us are Baptist in our theology, preferring to plunge believers rather than dip babes. This is unusual for a traditional Congregational Chapel. To this end, funds were agreed to obtain a portable baptistry which can be assembled in our graveyard. We currently have one applicant for baptism, and we shall be seeking more. Sadly, we baptise too few people at Salem Chapel; we might be better off simply borrowing other churches’, it was observed. Yet in faith, we go ahead and buy. God willing, other churches will be coming to borrow ours!

12. Trustee Matters

The trustees are responsible for compliance with the law and our chapel’s physical fabric. They request funds from the Church Meeting to effect repairs and maintenance. We are going to be short of trustees soon (the 1818 Trust Deed demands we have 15), so anyone with common sense and/or practical experience would be a welcome appointment. One need not be a member, but ought to have Christian faith and the chapel’s interests at heart.

13. Annual Church Tithe

Each year, our treasurer calculates our annual income, works out a tenth, and divides the amount by a number of charities nominated by members. After this month, sums will be sent to:

  1. Christians Against Poverty
  2. People International
  3. Yorkshire Camps
  4. Protestant Truth Society
  5. Association of Evangelists
  6. Open Doors
  7. Creation Science Movement
  8. Faith Mission

Of what little we give, we pray the Lord will make good use.

14. Leadership Structure

At our last AGM we agreed to appoint elders as well as deacons, breaking with Congregational polity yet being, I think, more faithful to the Biblical model. I circulated a brief plan proposing who deals with what among the elders, deacons and trustees. God willing, suitable people will be found for all three roles ahead of next year.

I pray that which we decided will be for God’s glory and His people’s strengthening.