When you become a Christian and join a church, relationships are dramatically affected.
It’s more than acquantaince or colleagues. It’s more than simple friendship.
And so, when we returned to our old church in Nottingham, Emmanuel Bramcote at the weekend, it really felt a lot like going home.
Which was very special.
We spent four amazing years at this church, making firm friends, growing in our love and knowledge of Jesus and connecting with so many people. It saw us through engagement, our first two years of marriage including a tricky year in Grantham and as we became “real people” with “real jobs.”
It was a major part of both of our lives and it was a huge wrench to leave when we did through moving to Manchester in 2012.
Much has changed since we last visited. Half of the church family who we knew have headed off to a very exciting church plant, Christ Church Wollaton, which has its official launch on Sunday 14 February. (If you’re in Nottingham, go check it out!)
Many of our friends have gone with the plant, helping Nathan and Libby as they seek to build a congregation to reach that lovely community. As a result, it was sad not to see those folk at Emmanuel although a brief hug with a visiting Vic was a treat as ever!
However, what was wonderful was just how many people were still around and welcomed us with open arms. Andrew was on the door sporting a typical beaming grin and showing off the quick wit I’ve really missed. Lovely to see Anna too and meet their beautiful daughter Phoebe who Sophie took a shine to. Becci and Alex too both seemed really well and their daughter Ada is lovely. Good luck with the shop guys!
Old homegroup friends such as Phil and Lynda and Rachel were doing well and we were chuffed to see them. How lovely to have a catch-up with Dave and Cathy as well and they all looked after Sophie brilliantly.
Chris and Chris were on great form and Brian and Diane classically warm and generous in their welcome. Angela looked great which was really encouraging. Jess also had a really good time speaking to Heather and Alex – lovely to see them while I saw Erica and Isaac which was really nice too.
As for the “youth”, well the Bowerman family were on great form. Ed and Anna never change (brilliant as ever) but their children are so tall! How did that happen? Josh is 18 and as tall as me, Bethany is such a great girl as usual and Maisie, from my first ever Y4 class is doing her GCSEs. What?!
Finally, Nigel and Lizzie. My surrogate parents of 2011/12. What a wonderful couple. A classic Nigel All-Age talk – I will remember for a long time his utterly simple yet utterly brilliant summary of idolatry a made-up thing is not the same as the real thing. Genius. My prayers are with this awesome family as they head off to pastures new in the summer. We’ll see you again, I hope.
As for Emmanuel Church, it’ll always be our family. Just like Grace Church is now. We have been so blessed with going to amazing churches with a whole host of wonderful people. We’ll be praying for Emmanuel as it moves forward (and all the folk there), and Christ Church Wollaton as it moves into gear. We love you all.