Get ready for a busy April

Dear Friends,

We are now coming into a very busy time of the year, and there are several things I would like to mention for your information and interest.

A group of 14 people from our church will be going to Spring Harvest in Minehead, from 5 – 9th April. Please pray that this will be a valuable and rewarding experience for everyone involved.

There will be an exhibition in our Church hall, to celebrate the story of the 1st Margate Boys’ Brigade, on 11th & 12th April, from 10am until 5pm each day. Tea and coffee will be available all day – do come along and visit. A souvenir book, “Under the Glengarry”, will be available for a donation.

On Good Friday (18th April), there will be a Walk of Witness through Margate, beginning at the Roman Catholic Church at 10am. This year, I am organizing the walk, and it would be good to see lots of Baptists with us on the day.

On Easter Day (20th April), there will be a Communion Service at 9am, followed by a cooked breakfast – please sign up if you would like to eat with us. At 11am there will be a Family Service, and Easter Evening Worship is at 6.30pm. Please come and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection with us.

Adrian Plass will be at Holy Trinity Church, Margate, on 24th April at 7.30pm, for an evening of stories and laughter. Tickets are £12.

Ted Watt-Ruffell is arranging a musical evening in our church hall, in aid of Bethany Children’s Trust, Thanet Street Pastors, and Boys and Girls Brigade. This will be on Saturday 26th April at 7pm, and donations of at least £2 per person are invited. The music will be of the “easy listening” variety, and performers will include young people from our church and from Christchurch University. Please support this very worthwhile event.

Further ahead, on 10th May, Destiny Africa Choir will be visiting Margate again, with an evening of music and dance at New Life church, from 7pm. Tickets will be £3.

Thanks to all who bought copies of my book “Preach it again, Sam”, which is now sold out. Further copies may be available later, if enough people tell me that they would like one – let me know. Meanwhile, Bertie Armstrong’s second book of church humour, “Pray Continue” will be on sale from 1st April, for £3.95 per copy. Make sure you order yours as soon as possible.

Finally, don’t forget to enter the Photographic Competition, on the them of “Creation”! The winner will be announced on Easter Sunday.

Best wishes, Stephen



After nearly two years away…..


After nearly two years away, Its time I started posting on here again.  Its been too long….

A sermon takes a long time to prepare. I have been preaching regularly now for about 35 years, and it used to take me between six and eight hours to prepare a 20-minute sermon. These days, it takes less time – perhaps four or five hours on average – but that is still quite an investment in terms of time and energy, particularly if you have two services to prepare for each week.

A typical sermon, then, takes four or five hours to prepare; and it takes about 25 minutes to deliver.  The preacher has then done his (or her) part, and leaves it to the Holy Spirit to apply the message from God’s word to the heart and life of the listener.  Hopefully, the sermon will go on encouraging or challenging, or teaching the listener for some time to come – but research on this subject is not very optimistic. It is suggested that, by Tuesday, most of us have forgotten 80% of what we heard on Sunday; and that by Thursday, almost nothing is left in our overcrowded minds. I can attest to that. Recently, someone asked me a question about the sermon I had preached six days previously, and I had real difficulty in remembering what I had spoken about – and I was the preacher!

All this is rather worrying. Is it really a good use of all that time and energy, not to mention prayer and study, for a sermon to be shared and heard, and then promptly forgotten?  Perhaps there may be a way in which the blessings and encouragements of God’s word may be made useful for a little longer?

I have decided to put together a book of some recent sermons from the pulpit at Margate Baptist Church, in the hope that it may be of interest to some. It will be called “Preach it again, Sam!”, and it will be available later in the spring for anyone who would like to purchase a copy.  I have decided to make it available for £5, with all profits going towards the MBC Mission Project for 2014 – namely the Bethany Childrens’ Trust.

I understand perfectly that not everyone will want to spend £5 on a book of my sermons – some will understandably think that having to sit through them is suffering enough! I shall not be in the least offended if you feel it is not for you. Still, it would be helpful to have some idea of how many copies to have printed; and I would therefore be grateful if anyone who would like a copy of “Preach it again, Sam!” could pre-order it with me over the next few weeks. I don’t want to have boxes of unsold books littering up the house – but neither do I want to run out and disappoint potential readers. Please speak to me, or e-mail me if you think you might like a copy (or two). Thank you.

Best wishes,


PS – all copies of the book have now gone, but I may have some more printed if enough people are interested!

A Saint to Celebrate

St George’s Day is almost upon us again – a day of national pride for the English, and a good excuse for a bit of flag-waving. St George is the patron saint of England – as well as of Portugal, Malta and Georgia. This being the case, you would think we would know all about him – but how many of us do?

St George was born in a town called Lod, (just a few miles south of modern-day Tel Aviv in Israel) in about 275 AD. He was therefore Jewish by birth, but not by faith. His family were Christians, and George enlisted in the Roman army, serving as a Tribune under Emperor Diocletian. In 302 AD, the Emperor decreed that all Roman soldiers must offer sacrifices to the Roman gods – those who refused faced imprisonment or death. George would not accept this law, loudly proclaiming himself to be a Christian, and was eventually put to death by beheading, at a town called Nicodemia in modern-day Turkey. The legend about dragon-slaying came from the age of the crusades, about 800 years after St George’s death.

The patron saint of England is therefore a Christian martyr – a man who died rather than renounce his faith in Jesus Christ. He is just one of many who have had the courage to stand up for what they believe, and even to face persecution and death rather than deny their faith. I often wonder if I would have that same courage, if put to the test.

On St George’s Day, those of us who are English should be proud to celebrate all that is good about our country (recognizing that it has many faults as well as virtues). I am particularly proud of our religious freedoms, and of the tolerance that is generally practised. It is worth remembering, however, that these same freedoms are not universally shared, and that many people in our world today are still unable to follow their faith in freedom and without fear.
St George has lessons to teach us that go far deeper than a few bars of “Land of Hope and Glory”.

Stephen Biddall

Well, that was good…….

A great weekend is now behind us, leaving lots of happy memories to reflect on. We celebrated and we sang; we welcomed old friends and we made some new ones. Jonathan Edwards brought us two challenging and inspiring messages, and we shared in the world premiere of our new Margate Hymn. Above all, our young people did us proud with their rendition of “Two Fifty Years”!

Now, though, its time to move on. We are almost in Holy Week, and we will soon be remembering the cross and the empty tomb. This is the time to reflect on the cost of our salvation – the price that was paid so that we could be given life. Lets walk the way of the cross with Jesus, and worship him for his Easter victory. Then, we need to roll up our sleeves, because God has work for us to do – building his kingdom, sharing our faith, and serving our community in his name.
God bless!

Open Day

I have just come home from the Church’s Open Day (Saturday 24th March), and it went really well. We had lots of people in to see the exhibition, to meet old friends, to look around the Church, and to enjoy coffee and lunch. The kitchen volunteers did a wonderful job, and the exhibtion was really interesting and enjoyable. What a great day!
Now for the Anniversary services tomorrow (Sunday). I cant wait – it should be a really good day.
Hope you can join us!

Easter Cracked

I am very pleased to say that “Easter Cracked” at MBC last Tuesday was a great success. About 120 children from two local schools came into our Church for an hour and a half of fun and games – all based on the story of Easter, and the amazing thing that Jesus did when he died for us on the cross. The team were able to share with the children what Easter means to us as Christians today, and to send them home with lots to think about (as well as an easter cake which they had made). It was a superb day, and I am incredibly thankful to the volunteers from our Church who gave up their time to help run the programme.
Next week, I am back in Holy Trinity School to run the lunch-time club on Tuesday, and I am taking two school assemblies on Wednesday. These opportunities to work in local schools are very precious, and I do value your prayer support.
Our big 250 weekend is almost upon us – the reunion and open day on Saturday 24th should be a great occasion; and the services on Sunday 25th will (I am sure) be memorable. More than 60 of us are booked to go for lunch at Cecil’s bar and kitchen after the morning service; and there will be tea and cakes from 5pm in the afternoon.
Finally, can I encourage you by telling you that we are planning a number of baptisms in the near future? There will be one on the Sunday after Easter, and soon after that I will be running another Enquirers Course. God is on the move at MBC, and there is no doubt that lives are being touched and changed.
Blessings and grace to you.


Looking Forward to the big 250

Well, its good to be back after my sabbatical leave, and I am really looking forward to the next few weeks and months here at MBC.
As you probably know, I have been away since January, writing a book about my life and the 30 years I have spent as a Baptist Minister. It has been an interesting exercise for me – I have been looking back at some of the influences that have shaped me, and at some of the successes and failures I have seen. It has given me a chance to step back and reflect on my life and on the path I have trodden – and I have to say that my overwhelming feeling is one of gratitude for the privilege of knowing and serving Jesus. The book is coming along well – there is still a lot to do on it, but I have finished my first draft – so thanks for all your interest and support!
Later in March, we will be celebrating the 250th anniversary of the founding of MBC in 1762. That is the year that services were first held in Margate (although the church could trace its history back even further). On 25th of March, Jonathan Edwards – General Secretary of the Baptist Union – will be coming to preach at our services (11am & 6.30pm). In the evening, we are inviting many other local churches to come and join us to make it a “Celebration” of God’s blesssing and work in East Kent.
On Saturday 24th March, the Church will be open from 10am until 4pm for an “Open Day”. There will be an exhibition to look at, a reunion of old friends, and lunches will be served from 12 noon onwards. Please come and join us if you possibly can – it will be so good to see you.
I really believe that God has some special times in store for us this year. There is much work to be done, but there is also a harvest to be brought in. The fields are white, and the time to say yes to God is now.
Please pray that these coming weeks will bring great blessing in all our lives.

God be with you,