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Lochaber: a microcosm of what God is doing?
Church should mean more than what we do on Sundays. An increasing number of Christians are finding the value of being together in new expressions of fellowship with one another.
Our Common Oneness
by Tony Walters
Ballachulish from Pap of Glencoe
Three years ago four Christians met for a meal in Glencoe and enjoyed a great evening together chatting about families and friends, our community and our faith. During the conversations we expressed concern that for most people in our community, ‘Church’, was no longer relevant in the busy world affecting life today.
Somehow Christianity had lost its attractiveness, even amongst Christians, yet there are so many people in desperate need of friendship, a kind word, or practical help. Many just want someone who is prepared to stop and listen to what they have to say.
Our desire as Christians is to work out our own faith within the community and be Jesus to those around us, so the four of us decided to meet each week on a Monday night to study the word of God and build ourselves up ready for works of service, (Ephesians 4:12). Very quickly word got around and the group started to grow; people from traditional church backgrounds, Episcopalian, Church of Scotland, Baptist and Independent, shared our view and joined the group, which meets in one another’s homes. Although we have different backgrounds and ways of ‘doing church’, we have a ‘Common Oneness’, and that is our faith. Faith is our commonality.
Although there are many doctrinal differences, conflicting views and concepts, the biggest test of our faith, our ‘Common Oneness’, is our ability to receive one another. How we receive one another is the key factor in proving our faith, after all this is how the church started 2000 years ago. If we do not receive one another as Christ received us and work out His teaching to love one another, then there is no active church life in the community.
Currently there are seventeen regular attendees on a Monday evening; they come from seven different churches and four different denominations. On Sundays each person worships at their own church, some members of the group are involved in leadership, young peoples work and serving in the community. Ministers from the traditional churches around the Loch have encouraged us and generally support the group.
The Bible Study groups regularly touch the lives of thirty three people throughout the UK. These involve local people from around the loch, past members of the group who have moved away, or who are currently on mission, or people who have visited us whilst on holiday and wish to stay in touch and attend our meetings when they are in the area.
Several of the group members are involved with the ‘Glencoe Christian outdoor centre’ as instructors or support workers. This enables the group to be actively involved in young peoples work even if it is only through prayer and/or financial support. We are also privileged to sponsor and support mission work of one of our members working in India.
The group has now developed to the point where we have to expand and have now introduced a second group which meets on a Wednesday evening and currently has about ten people attending.
People often ask when we are starting our own new church, “but this is church”, we reply, Christians just working out their faith in the community. The book of Romans shows how organic church should operate. Returning to Rome from the encounter with the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem at Pentecost, the new believers met in groups within their homes to praise God, receive teaching, enjoy fellowship, break bread together and pray. The new Christians were both Jew and Gentile, each with their own traditions. The Jews tended to meet together in the synagogue according to their Jewish upbringing. The gentiles similarly grouped together according to their own custom and background. Although their were tensions between them, Paul wanting to see the new church operating in the right way so he called the saints to work together in their ‘Common Oneness’.
For the foreseeable future we intend to grow as the Lord leads us, worshipping Him in our traditional way, supporting our own churches, yet working together as one body in Christ within the area in which we live.
The Way Forward
1. We are currently being challenged to pray for the needs of the community and particularly for those who for whatever reason cannot pray for themselves. We are keen to join any other group for prayer who have a similar calling.
2. We feel burdened to reach out to the de-churched in our area, (Christians who for whatever reason are disconnected with mainstream churches), we desire to reach out to these needy Christians and bring them back into fellowship. It is believed this could be as many as 20% of the adult population in Lochaber.
3. During the last four years we have experienced God undertaking a remarkable work to dismantle the dividing walls which have disabled churches for many years. Therefore inter-church relationships have improved dramatically. This is important to us as we have benefited from God’s grace in this area. We wish to do whatever is necessary to encourage and facilitate this trend.
4. We have identified a need within the area for Christians from all denominations to occasionally meet together for Jesus centred contemporary praise and worship in Celebration. Our desire is to hold monthly family meetings around the loch, on a Sunday afternoon, to reach out into the community.
5. The involvement of visitors provides valuable insight as to what God is doing in other parts of the country/world and vice versa. We intend to increase awareness of our activities so that tourists are aware of the group meetings; we need to increase our exposure by creating advertising material and a new website, which is already underway.
We are particularly keen to reach out to people in the community who are in need of fellowship, so if you if you live within South Lochaber and would like to join in this exciting new work, or if you just want to know more about us and what we do, then email me at -
or Tel. 01855 821116
Tony & Freda Walters,
Ed footnote: Tony says: "The title of this article came from an inspiring book of the same name
'Our Common Oneness' by Bill Freeman - Ministry Publications, Scottsdale, Arizona."
See also 'Watchman' article: Don't read this....
Tony Walters, 05/05/2008