2019 is a year that will always be remembered by members of the Halesowen Central Adventist church. Back in February God made it possible for us to buy our own church, bringing an end to our days of 'wandering in the wilderness' with no permanent dwelling to call our own. For this we give Him thanks.
A couple of months ago we were invited to sing carols at the annual 'Christmas Lights On' event in Halesowen town centre. Eager to make connections with our new local community we seized the opportunity and joined with our brothers and sisters from the Halesowen congregation to sing a collection of carols, reminding those busy shopping for Christmas of the greatest and most important gift ever given, which was given by God to mankind. To our amazement the organisers allowed us to hand out our own literature to those passing by, and so we took with us 200 books as well as 200 flyers inviting people to an evening of carols that we had planned for 14 December. When we left the event, we were frostbitten but pleasingly empty handed and our hearts warmed with the knowledge that that afternoon, 200 homes had received the opportunity to get to know God and had had an introduction to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
On the evening of Sabbath 14 December, we were happy to be able to hold our first evening of carols in our own church. It was a service enjoyed by all. Most of all, we were pleased to welcome people from the local neighbourhood, friends and colleagues as well as members of the 'One Voice Community Choir' (a choir that works with patients who have suffered brain injury to help them recover their speech) and representatives from 'Beacon' (a charity to help those with sight loss in the West Midlands) which were the two local charities we had decided to support this year with the monies raised through voluntary donations collected at the service. The programme comprised congregational carols and the reading of the Nativity Story from the Bible interspersed with carols presented by children and adults from the Halesowen Central congregation as well as invited artists including: Okantan Ayeh, the gospel singing group 'Voices in Praise', Alethe Bailey, Stephanie & Mart Flores and the 'Advent Melodies'.
The evening also included presentations by Stephanie Danks from Beacon and Lorna Bickley from the One Voice Community Choir, which provided greater insight for those present to the needs of the people with whom the charities work and the ways that with the funds collected they are helping to improve the health and quality of life of sufferers and their families. The One Voice Community Choir also sang carols for us. To hear their music and see them perform after some had suffered paralysis and loss of speech was truly moving and brought tears to the eyes of many. Elder Valencia from the Halesowen Bartley Green church gave the evening address. His message highlighted the importance of Christ's birth for His work of salvation. Voices in Praise ended the evening with the song 'Nothing's Worrying Me', testifying that when we have Christ, we have nothing to fear.
After the service, light refreshments were served, allowing people time to socialise and get to know each other. All of the visitors spoke very highly of the service and the welcome that they had received and indicated that they would like to attend future programmes. May God be praised.
The Halesowen Advent Centre was bought not only to be a church for our worship but also to be a Centre for the community. It is our desire to open its doors not only on the Sabbath day but rather 7 days a week to be a blessing to the community, providing services that fulfil their needs, making connections and showing people the love of Christ.
If anyone reading this report and living in the West Midlands is considering how they might do more to serve God in 2020 and would like to work with us to help us make this vision a reality by beginning an occasional or regular ministry or providing a service either alone, with their own team or by working with members of our congregation, please do not hesitate to get in touch (contact 07985074382). The Centre also has rooms available for rent for private functions or meetings, profits from which will go entirely to support the development of the Centre as a place of worship and outreach.