Updated: Apr 6
On Sunday 27th February we joined together as the Cornerstone Team at St Catharine's Church in Houghton where nine people from our churches were confirmed and one baptised by full immersion by Bishop Saju. Bishop Martyn preached from Luke 9:28-36 giving the encouragement to be listening to Jesus.
Below are some photos from the service along with some of the stories of those who were confirmed and baptised - stories of God's amazing grace at work
Tony: I grew up in a village which was essentially a farming community. The families had a village church and adhered to the Church of England though many were not church-goers. In my case, I had a Great Aunt who attended Sunday services and took me along. This did not develop as I didn’t attend Sunday School, mainly through reticence and I declined confirmation as a teenager probably from uncertainty, lack of confidence and absence of a peer group.
As I progressed through education and early working life, religion took a back seat though I did receive exposure to other faiths. I had doubts about my chosen occupation at first but difficult family events early on and then career setbacks later made me fall back on work stability, which did not did not open my mind to religious teaching.
At my mother’s funeral I was reassured by the church surroundings and heartened by the service. I now attend the weekly Matins and have received holy communion though my traditional belief was that I should not do so as I was not confirmed. Holy Communion seems central to church teaching and belief and it is difficult to feel a full member of the church family without having been confirmed into it. I feel that it is now time.
Heath: I was introduced to the church by my parents so I was always around the Church family but as I got to about 14 my faith really started to grow. I went to events to get deeper with Christ such as Hungarton camp and Soul Survivor and over the last 3 years faith has always been important to me.
A verse that has always stuck with me is "You lord keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light." - Psalm 18:28. This reminds me that in the hard times I will always be guided by God.
The reason for my confirmation is that I want my Christianity and faith to go to the next stage. I think it was the best time as I am about to start adult life and I want to remain with God and be protected by him with the confirmation reminding me of his sacrifice he made for me on the cross.
Megan: Growing up with a Christian Mum and faith supporting Dad, I was baptised at 3 months old. In my early years, I occasionally attended church with my Mum, but sadly through my years at secondary school, college and my first job, my attendance was less frequent.
The many challenges and sadness I experienced in college and my first job left me wanting to find meaningful friendships in the hope of lasting happiness. The first place I was drawn to look was within the church and I attended services and joined a home group. I had my first encounter with God’s presence during a worship song when my whole body was suddenly covered in goosebumps. However, sadly I drifted away from the church after being unable to build the strong bonds I’d hoped for.
After deciding to change jobs, on my way to an interview, I had another real sense of God’s presence. Nervously walking, I passed a lady on the street who unexpectedly said “keep smiling, Jesus loves you”. God obviously knew this was what I needed to hear at that exact time – I was recruited to the job role!
Only 5 months after starting my job, lockdown happened. Being so restricted, I wanted to make the best use of my time and not just focus on work. I was again drawn back to my faith. A good family friend suggested watching St Luke’s online church services and I joined in with Mum every week. I had never before felt such an strong connection to faith. Life made sense to me in a time when many people were feeling completely lost.
I became eager to learn as much as I could and joined many online courses including Alpha, Christianity Explored and Discipleship Explored.
Something I will never forget is my involvement with Hungarton Camp last summer. I experienced such overwhelming happiness being surrounded by so many Christians of all different ages. Adults and children, who were only just getting to know me, made me feel so accepted and cared for. It hit me, I realised being a Christian is not just about Sundays, it is knowing the presence of God in my everyday life and seeking to know him deeper. Christianity is not only my faith, it is my own personal journey and relationship with God.
This is why I am saying yes to being a follower of Jesus and allowing God to continue to lead me on my Christian journey. God, ‘you're the best use of my time’ (Treasure/My Time song by Freddie Fardon).
Lydia: I want to follow Jesus because I have seen how much he has changed people’s lives, and I want his love and support in my life. I also know that every day the Lord is there looking out for me, and that is why I need Him in my life. I also trust in all he has done and that he has a plan for my life.
I really like this verse: In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. Ephesians 1:7
Nate: I want to commit my life to the Lord Jesus because I know he is gracious and even when I mess up in life he forgives me. I feel that committing my life to Jesus is good because following Him will help me with lots of things like what I should do with my life. I love the Lord Jesus because of all the amazing things he’s done in my life and what he will do in the future. I really like this verse: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Niamh: When I was younger, I went to church but only on special occasions and I never really understood why I was going, But when I was around 13 I went to Hungerton camp with my friend and this was the first time I really understood what it was all about. I then started going to church on Sundays and I have really enjoyed learning about what Jesus has done for me. Being in such a supportive church family, being surrounded by other Christians and having friends who believe what I believe has helped me gain the confidence to speak more openly about Christianity. This has encouraged me to be baptised and confirm my belief in Jesus.
Pippa: I’ve always been brought up in a Christian family but at the last Hungarton camp i prayed with a leader and really felt a new understanding of god and what it means to be saved and I felt like I new i where I belonged, as part of gods family. Since then I’ve enjoyed learning about what Jesus has done for me, and have found a new understanding of how it feels to be a part of the church family. Since going to snug it’s given me the confidence to tell other people about my faith because I am proud to be a Christian, so I feel now is a great time to be confirmed.
Felix: My name is Felix and I am fourteen. I have lived in Houghton since I was a baby and I was christened at St Catharine’s when I was one year old. I have always attended St Catharine’s with my family. I have been wanting to get confirmed for some time to make my own personal commitment to my faith instead of the one my parents decided for me.