Baptist Voice

“Baptist Voice” is the talking newspaper from the Baptist Men’s Movement. It contains a wide range of news from the Baptist Union, BMS World Mission, the Baptist Colleges and the wider Christian “scene”.

The reason I’m mentioning it here is that one of the members of our church, Ralph Birtwistle, has taken over production duties from Geoff Pratt and Gilbert Payne, who stepped down at the end of last year. Ralph’s managed to persuade a whole range of people to contribute to the new Baptist Voice (including some minister called Stephen…) to give it a fresh, new sound while hoping it stays true to the work Geoff, Gilbert and those who came before them, did to make it such an important and worthwhile part of the Baptist scene.

If you want to hear this month’s edition, then click here. And if you want any more information about Baptist Voice, then contact Ralph via our church email address,

Posted by Stephen in Baptist life, 0 comments

Urmston’s Favourite Carol

Hello, it’s me again – long time, no blog!

We at Greenfield Church want to end the Christmas season with a bang, not a whimper.  So we want as many people in Urmston as possible to help us find Urmston’s Favourite Carol!

Throughout December, we want you to nominate your top 3 Christmas carols.  Over Christmas itself, we’ll collate all the results.  Then, at our special service on Sunday 5 January, we’ll announce the top 5 and reveal what Urmston’s Favourite Carol is.

Here’s how you can vote for your favourite:

  1. By post: Write down your top 3 and post them to Greenfield Church, Primrose Avenue, Urmston, M41 0TY, marking your envelope “Urmston’s Favourite Carol”;
  2. By email: Send your top 3 in an email to, putting “Urmston’s Favourite Carol” in the subject line.

Your vote needs to be with us by Christmas Eve to be counted.

So what will it be?  Hark The Herald Angels Sing?  Away In a Manger?  Silent Night?  Vote now and join us on January 5th to discover Urmston’s Favourite Carol and give this Christmas a special send-off.

PS Don’t forget Greenfield Church is now on Twitter!  Follow us using @GfieldChurch.  Can you fit your vote for Urmston’s Favourite Carol into one tweet?

Posted by Stephen in events, Greenfield Events, 0 comments

Strange Sunday…

This Sunday feels a bit strange.


Well, on the one hand Christmas Day will only be 9 days away.  My mind is already switching over to Christmas services, carols, readings etc.  We went to see Amy’s school nativity play today (very good it was, too), which makes the “pull” of Christmas even stronger.  It’s like we’re approaching the top of a rollercoaster, teetering on the edge, about to go hurtling down.  Bring on the manger, donkey, angels, stars, shepherds and Magi!

But this week’s readings from the Lectionary (and I need to state quite clearly here I’m not claiming any Lectionary expertise here) are firmly rooted in Advent.  They want to pull us back away from the manger, from Mary and Joseph and the Christmas stories.  They want us to focus, not on baby Jesus in the manger, but on Jesus the one who’s “winnowing is in His hand”, the picture John the Baptist paints for us of one who’s come not to give us an “aaah” moment, but to challenge and upset things.

This doesn’t sound especially “Christmassy”.  We want to go over the edge and everything around us seems to be pulling us in that direction.  Part of me really wants to preach a “Aaaah, Christmas!” sermon.  But we need to hold on – just one more week – to allow ourselves to hear and see this very different (and, if we’re honest, very difficult) picture of Jesus and allow that, in turn, to complete and shape the picture we’ll draw and the story we’ll tell over Christmas.

Humbugs not allowed…

Posted by Stephen in Preaching, Thoughts and musings, 0 comments

Sermon, 9 December 2012

Here’s my sermon from yesterday, based on Malachi 3:1-4 and Luke 3:1-6.  Not an easy set of passages to preach from, or a particularly easy theme (especially when it’s the church Christmas lunch afterwards!).

Anyway, right-click on the link below and choose “Save target as…” or the equivalent in your browser if you want to have a look at it.  There’s also a PDF of the background/reflection leaflet for last week if you want to have a read of that as well (with the added bonus of the deliberate mistake on the original being corrected!)

By the way, if you do read these then please comment on them using the box below (or e-mail me if you’d prefer) – all (constructive) feedback would be gratefully received!


advent_leaflet2.pdf (approx 1.1mb)

Posted by Stephen in Yesterday's sermon, 0 comments

Online Advent resources

OK, this is about 5 days too late.  But, there’s tons of stuff that’s being blogged and generally published online during Advent.  Here’s four that might be of interest to people (anyone?) reading this blog:

  • 25thingsforadvent is a blog written by various Baptist writers.  There’ll be an entry each day with “25 things to do to mark the season of advent”.
  • The Congregational Federation are having an “Advent Adventure“.  There’s a whole series of ideas here, from an Advent Twitter feed, to ideas posted on the social site pintrest to a weekly reflection.
  • Catriona Gorton (who spent time with us as a student minister (I think!) at Greenfield) is blogging a reflection every day throughout Advent.
  • Finally, Richard Kidd, newly-retired co-principal of Northern Baptist Learning Community and former minister of Greenfield Church is also blogging a daily reflection at his blog.

Click on the links in that lot and hopefully there’ll be something to help guide you through the rest of Advent and prepare you for the wonder of Christmas.

Posted by Stephen in Web links, 0 comments

Sermon for Advent Sunday, 2 December 2012


It’s been a long time since I lasted posted one of my sermons (or even since I lasted posted here and enjoyed a brief moment of post-Baptist Assembly popularity).  But since it’s Advent and, therefore, technically the start of a new church and Lectionary year, I thought this was a good time to get into the habit once more.

So, here’s the sermon from Advent Sunday, which is based on Jeremiah 33:14-16 and Luke 21:25-36.  There’s also a leaflet with some reflections and questions on it about the two passages.

(From memory, you have to right click on the links and then choose the equivalent of “Save target as…” from the menu that appears in order to download them – please let me know if there’s another way.  I’m going to look to find a better of way of linking to documents etc., all suggestions gratefully received!).


Posted by Stephen in Yesterday's sermon, 0 comments

Baptist Assembly 2012

(Blatant plug alert!)

Over on my other blog, there’s a post with my (rather lengthy!) reflections on this year’s Baptist Assembly.  As they were personal opinions, it seemed best to put them there.  On here, this week (hopefully!) I’ll post some more thoughts about what went on that I hope will be of relevance to our church.  So stay tuned!

Posted by Stephen in Baptist life, Blog news, 0 comments

Blatant cross-blog plug!!!

Over on my personal blog, I’m blogging through Mark’s gospel throughout Lent.  This is following the series of readings that forms the basis for Tom Wright’s “Lent for Everyone” series.  We’ll also be making available the full list of readings on Sunday, so you can use it for your own Lent reflections if you want.

Go have a look!

Posted by Stephen in Blog news, 0 comments

Yesterday’s sermon – 5 February 2012

…just in time!

Yesterday’s sermon was part of our special service for Education Sunday (as mentioned on this blog previously).  The passage was Mark 1: 29-39, which covers Jesus’ healing of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law and His decision to spread His message through the other villages in the area.

We focussed on the latter part of this.  It followed a testimony from a teacher from our local infant school who had come to this service.  She shared what teaching meant to her, what a privilege it was and some of the ups and downs, highs and lows of teaching.

I tried to tie the sermon in with that.  I took the idea of Jesus’ mission being the thing that drove Him on, rather than the popularity He was experiencing in Capernaum; this mission, I suggested, was bringing the good news of the coming of God’s Kingdom.  And it was this I likened to what was shared about the job of teaching: how, like a good teacher builds relationships with pupils and parents, God works in our lives by building relationships with us, rather than just telling us what to do.

We then noted how, when Jesus leaves Capernaum and goes on, He calls His disciples to follow Him: “Let us go”.  I suggested that Jesus, too, was inviting all of us, in our own callings, to go with Him and partner with Him in His ongoing mission to spread the good news of the Kingdom.  This is something that we are learning, but that at the same time we take with us.

Here’s the sermon notes, if you’re interested in reading them, they’re in Word .doc format. Again, I think it works best if you right click on the link and select “Save Link As…” or the equivalent. And if you do read them, please comment below!

(And, for reasons of length, I will post separately about the mysterious story hinted at in the first point!)

Posted by Stephen in Yesterday's sermon, 0 comments

Yesterday’s sermon – Sunday 29 January

Yesterday’s sermon was based on Mark 1:21-28, the story of Jesus driving out an evil spirit from a man in the synagogue in Capernaum.  We thought primarily about what this (and the reactions of the people to Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue before the exorcism) might have to say about Jesus’ authority.

Authority often seems to be a dirty word these days: we don’t like being bossed around.  Yet Mark here presents a whole town (almost) as being amazed by Jesus’ authority: in his teaching (which Mark says was like nothing they’d heard before) and in his freeing the possessed man.

So what’s going on?

We suggested that Jesus’ authority was something that liberates: rather than seeking to control and exercise power over people (as a “bossy” authority would), Jesus brings an authority that somehow sets people free.  It is an authority that exercised over the things that hold people, that prevent them from coming to God; it doesn’t seem to be exercised over people themselves (in the sense of controlling them, putting them down).

(None of this is to deny the ancient Christian truth that “Jesus is Lord”.  It’s to simply say that this Lordship, which we submit to, is often not the same as the lordship the powerful in our world often exercise.)

We then thought about some of the things that might hold us: fears & worries; sins; things that have hurt us in life.  Finally, we went through a short time of imaginative prayer, picturing ourselves in the synagogue and bringing just some of those things that hold us to Jesus.

The notes (and they are notes – I hope the above helps explain them!) are attached below; please read them and comment on what you think of them!

Amazed By Authority

To download the file, please click with the right mouse button and select “Save Link As…”.

Posted by Stephen in Yesterday's sermon, 0 comments