Ross Ferguson

Ross Ferguson

rossferguson

Ross is a local Pastor of Lincoln Baptist Church, serving the needs of the Monks Abbey community. He is a father of three, husband and an advocate for those in need.


On Tuesday, March 17, there was a meeting of the Leadership Team at Lincoln Baptist Church. The outcome was one I could have never imagined. The church would close its doors and move all services online for at least six weeks. Having served as a Pastor for just over seven years and across four churches in three countries, I have never experienced a more gut-wrenching decision.

The immediate aftermath was one of concern and anxiety. How will we look after the 120 people that attend? What about the elderly? What about the families? How will we help the community, in a time of need, when we can’t run as normal? I must admit, I shed many a tear in despair at the situation.

However, all was not lost! I saw my church spring into action. Let me tell you about the heroes of faith in our church, who by the grace of God are showing that community is more than just meeting together.

Let me tell you about an elderly couple, who are now facing 12-weeks at home. They are phoning the church congregation every day. Late last night I phoned to check how they were doing – they could barely speak, their voices hoarse from phoning 18 of our church congregation to encourage them to keep going!

Let me tell you about the couple and other individuals, who, with a deep passion for serving the homeless, are waking up early each morning. Along with the intervention team, they are ensuring those that are rough sleeping have food, and a friendly face, in this difficult time.

Let me tell you about the church member who is shopping for some of our elderly congregation. Sometimes they are travelling to multiple shops to find what they need. They are dropping off the shopping at members’ doors and not accepting any payment (of course while still maintaining the government guidelines).

Let me tell you about the children in our church, who are working hard at home, completing challenges, sending pictures and videos and generally adding much joy to our church community.

Let me tell you about the individual who sends a daily encouraging message to say they are praying. Or the member who sends pictures of God’s creation, reminding us that this world is still a beautiful place. Or the member who I phone, and we spend 30 minutes just laughing and shedding tears of joy as we recount the day’s activities.

You see, community is more than meeting together! It’s a way of life. It’s the belief that we are better when we serve each other, when we care for each other and when we love each other. Being a community means putting others before ourselves. There is no greater example of what loving others looks like than that of Jesus. We read in the Bible – “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

I want to tell you more about Jesus and how our church community is coming together. Every day we are posting devotions to our YouTube channel, every Sunday we run a virtual service on YouTube and every week we pray for all requests that come in. Connect with the church at the website here, or on YouTube – let us be a community together!

Let me close with a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer – “Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this. Whether it is a brief, single encounter or the daily fellowship of years, Christian community is only this. We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ.”

Ross is a local Pastor of Lincoln Baptist Church, serving the needs of the Monks Abbey community. He is a father of three, husband and an advocate for those in need.

Ross is a local Pastor of Lincoln Baptist Church, serving the needs of the Monks Abbey community. He is a father of three, husband and an advocate for those in need.


Everyone enjoys a good meal! Especially if it is combined with good company! The question is, how does a simple meal promote and improve our communities? Let me tell you about a recent experience of mine as a way of answering.

I attended a conference in Torquay a few weeks ago, as part of my role; I often attend such conferences. However, this one was different. Instead of simply turning up to lectures and seminars, this conference is somewhat residential. Every lunch and dinner is a chance for all 1,000 delegates to join together in the main hall and eat a meal together. What was different from, say, a wedding, was a lack of seating plan. You simply walked in, sat down and you were served a meal.

As someone who doesn’t enjoy small talk, I was a little nervous; I had to sit next to people I had never met! However, at each mealtime, I sat and quickly found myself deep in conversation with strangers, who soon became friends. In fact, on one occasion, tired after several lectures, I tried to hide in the corner to eat my lunch. Within minutes a Scottish couple came and sat with me and we were soon in deep discussion. The odd thing was, even though we didn’t know each other, we had gathered for a common cause. It was this common cause that we were able to talk about, laugh over, cry over and debate over.

As a church, Lincoln Baptist Church (on Croft Street) has a vision and a set of values. Our values are based on a passage in the Bible called ‘the fellowship of believers’. In these verses, we read that the first church saw fellowship (that is sitting and having a meal together) essential to a healthy church. It is for this reason that, as a church, we often have times of fellowship. We recently had a ‘fish and chips evening’, raising funds for Tearfund. On the second Sunday of each month, nearly 100 of our members sit down after the church service for a meal together. We serve refreshments before and after our Sunday service. And importantly, we ensure we feed those in need, providing meals Monday to Friday through our LIFT ministry. We fellowship together; it is vital to our church.

What I have found is, these times of fellowship are invaluable. They bring communities together. They give chances to laugh, cry and talk. People make new friends and find common ground and interests. In my last column, I wrote of the unexpected neighbour. It is at these fellowship meals that many unexpected connections occur – the young student teaching an older man how to use his phone and a homeless lady and a little girl sharing their love of horses.

Why do I write about these ‘fellowship’ times? As a community church, we want to invite you to join us. Everyone is welcome! If you are nervous, never been to church, or it’s been a while, why not come along on Sundays at 10am when we begin serving refreshments before the 10:30 service. You will meet new friends and church will seem less scary.

We are also excited for Christmas and would like to invite you to our Christingle service on Christmas Eve, starting at 4pm. We will be serving hot chocolate and making Christingles.

Community is about fellowship, eating together and finding common ground.

Ross is a local Pastor of Lincoln Baptist Church, serving the needs of the Monks Abbey community. He is a father of three, husband and an advocate for those in need.

Consider where you live – do you like your neighbours, or do you find them difficult? I remember one particular set of neighbours of mine, back when I lived in Scotland, who were, frankly, annoying! They seemed to always be there. When I was cutting the grass, they stood watching. When I dared cut the hedge, they reminded me how much they loved the hedge, and don’t get me started about when the bins should be taken out!

Yet, they were my neighbours. It wasn’t all bad. They were there when we brought our twins home for the first time. They gave us sugar and tea bags when we ran out and, at Christmas, they gave our kids presents. I didn’t particularly like these neighbours (I don’t think they liked me either) but, without them, there would have been no sense of community. I call them my unexpected neighbours! People who you think will be trouble but, in fact, become part of your life.

As a Pastor, I have taught the story of the good Samaritan many times. A story where the ‘expected’ good people did nothing to help a man in need. Instead the ‘unexpected’ Samaritan helped a man who, the world said, should be his enemy. The interesting thing about this story is that it is given in response to the question, “who is my neighbour?”. The answer – everyone, even the ‘unexpected’.

My church, Lincoln Baptist, is situated on Croft Street and serves the Monks Abbey area. In the community there are families, students and older folks. There are also homeless, people struggling with addiction and even those for whom crime is the only way to live.

One day, as I stood outside the church gathering some cleaning materials, three men came towards me. I hadn’t met them before, but they were clearly homeless. We started chatting and soon found ourselves laughing and joking as if we had known each other for years. These guys asked what I was doing, and I explained that I needed to wash the church windows, pick out some weeds and clean the back step. Well, without discussion or argument, the three men picked up the materials and proceeded to do all the jobs I mentioned. When completed, we shook hands and they went on their way. They were my unexpected neighbours!

I have experienced several other unexpected neighbours while serving at Lincoln Baptist – a man, recently out of prison, spent hours cleaning and waxing the church floors. Another man who struggled with addiction, re-plastered an office wall. There was an older lady who bought me a bottle of Irn-Bru each week, because she knew I liked it; the young mum who, in her battle with anxiety, has taught me how to better care for people; the children of Monks Abbey school who sang at full volume on their visit to the church.

You see, community has little to do with who you live next to, but who you define as your neighbour. I wonder what would happen in our society if we treated everyone like the good Samaritan did? Would we find unexpected neighbours? Would we have more of a community? Would life be better? I think society has told us, for years, who we should hate, who doesn’t deserve a second chance and the ten ways to get back at the neighbour you don’t like. Maybe it’s time we began talking about how we start to repair our community, how we build relationships and, most importantly, how the unexpected neighbour becomes our friend.

Ross is a local Pastor of Lincoln Baptist Church, serving the needs of the Monks Abbey community. He is a father of three, husband and an advocate for those in need.