At this church ‘hip’ really means hip
Who in their right mind would put a picture of a Zimmer-frame on their newsletter?
That would be Stoke Baptist in Nelson. They would, and they have. They are proud of who they are. This gathering of ‘hearing aids and walking sticks’ glued together with real Christian love is a fellowship of the most wonderful people you could hope to meet. The pastor is an ex truckie from Ngaruawahia ( call me Paul) and it seems to me he spends all his time drinking cups of tea chuckling at the latest escapade of one of his flock.
Allow me to carry the ‘flock’ analogy a tad further. If his flock really were sheep they’d be on their way to the ‘works’ and not to be turned into lamb. If truth be told, they’re way past mutton as well. But they can sing. If Wesley wrote it, they can sing it, and even young Bill Gaither gets the odd ‘play’. They don’t want to be thought of as ‘fuddy-duddies’. As Pastor Paul rightly says ‘we keep up with the times’. Phyllis is the pianist. To be fair she does say her eyesight is going and that makes it tough to read every note let alone hit every ivory, but 9 out of 10 isn’t bad when you’re 86 (ish). Bev is the organist. For the first six months I only ever say her head and glasses over the top of the organ. She is good. Plays the bass line with her feet. Real old school stuff.
At this church they celebrate every birthday like it may be their last, cue the laughter, they think that’s funny. True but funny. There is a club for those over 90.
Get your head around this. The youth group starts at 50, there’s no Sunday school and they think McDonalds still own the old farm but these people rock Stoke. They sing the roof down, pray up a storm, are not convinced the new King James is a good idea. But are the loveliest, and kindest people you could ever hope to meet.
If you have been ‘put off’ church at some time and happen to be in Stoke, Nelson on a Sunday morning I think you might enjoy going along. . Paul rounds up the sheep for a 10.30 start. The cuppa will happen at 11.30. No hard biscuits here. I have it on reliable authority the whole congregation together boast 25 real teeth. ( Perhaps I made that up, but I thought it was funny.) They have to be back at the retirement home for lunch at 12.15. They are easy enough to find. The building is beside a brewery. They think that’s hilarious. And they’re Baptists!
There is one problem. Go along and you’ll not want to leave. We didn’t and we’re about to join the youth group.