From the pastor
Greetings in the name or our Lord Jesus Christ. We are thankful for the good attendance we are experiencing at Harmony Church as well as the many visitors that the Lord has sent our way. I appreciate the hospitality our membership has shown our guests. When I talk to our visitors, they always tell me how warm and friendly our people are to them. I believe that the testimony of the local Church is greatly impacted by the kindness the membership shows to its guests. As Paul wrote, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares"-Hebrews 13:2. Just sitting and visiting with our visitors at church or lunch is ministering to their needs. They may be the next new member. Perhaps, the Lord sends some angels by from time to time to examine our hospitality. Whatever the case, Paul encourages us to be kind to our visitors and I am thankful to serve a people who have always done this.
Since the time of our last newsletter, our family has sojourned to and from England. We enjoyed the trip, the sites and the time together as a family, but we were very glad to get back to the good old U.S.A. It was quite confusing in the airport when three 'Neil Phelans' were trying to check in with three passports bearing the same name…..especially with today's stringent methods of inspection. Sister Elaine Cox loaned us her "Big Bertha" suitcase and we found that it could easily be loaded beyond the weight capacity.
My father and I traveled by bus to visit Metropolitan Tabernacle where C.H. Spurgeon preached over a century ago. The original tabernacle was destroyed in WW II by a fire bomb, and the only existing part of the original structure still intact was the front edifice of the building. The old columns still stood in place on the elevated porch revealing the beautiful architecture of the original building. I tried to imagine the people walking up the steps to hear the "Prince of Preachers" expound the gospel of Christ on a Sunday morning. I had to reach out and touch the old column. Perhaps I touched something that Spurgeon himself touched.
The inside of the tabernacle was one-third the size of the original tabernacle which seated about six-thousand in Spurgeon's day. It was disappointing to see a big pipe organ which we know Mr. Spurgeon would have excommunicated, for he practiced and taught congregational singing which he led himself many times. In the back of the Tabernacle was a bookshop and I had the opportunity to purchase a good stack of useful material. The magazine, "The Sword and The Trowel", which was first printed by Spurgeon in the 1800's, is still printed by the church that continues to meet at Metropolitan Tabernacle and I was able to subscribe to it. The Church remains active with about 300 members. Their current pastor is Dr. Peter Masters.
After our visit to the Metropolitan Tabernacle, dad and I ventured the bus route one more time to try to find Norwood Cemetery where Mr. Spurgeon was buried. It seemed that the Lord blessed us that day, for each bus we needed arrived at just the right time and there were always people to help us out. When we arrived at the cemetery, I went into the little office at the gate entrance. I said to the lady seated at the desk, "I am a preacher from America and"…Before I could get the words out of my mouth she said, "To see Mr. Spurgeon!" as she handed me a map of the cemetery. We found the site within a few minutes. As I stood beside the tomb where Spurgeon and his wife were laid to rest I pushed back a tear as I considered the life this faithful man lived and the blessing his labors had been to me and countless others. I was very thankful to share this moment with my father who has been such a blessing to me. I made several pictures which I hope to share with you soon.
On Sunday Morning we visited a Strict Particular Baptist Church, located just a few blocks from our Hotel. There were only sixteen members of this little congregation and to be quite truthful, it was a sad condition. They owned a big beautiful building with no people. Services were very dull and I wish I had known that they were still meeting at the Tabernacle. They said they were going to close their Church in a few months. It seemed to me that they got a little to Strict and much too Particular for their own good. The pastor introduced his text by reading from the Bible the story of Zacchaeus and the rich young ruler. In his sermon, which lasted about 45 minutes, he seemed to believe in grace, but he butted all the grace out by the time he was finished. It seemed to me the man was confused about the subject and I am sure his congregation, at least those awake, were as well. Needless to say, I became ever so thankful to be a member of Harmony Primitive Baptist Church and felt it would do London some good to visit us! And it just goes to show that no matter how big a place you are from, Donaldson, Malvern or London, God's Spirit can be manifested just as powerfully in one place as another.
While we were there, we toured Westminster Abbey. Many famous people are buried beneath the floor of this structure: kings, queens, political leaders, poets, priests, monks and even Charles Darwin who wrote "Origin of the Species". As we walked over the tombs of these people my mind went to Mr. Spurgeon who rested in the little known and seldom visited Norwood Cemetery. I thought of the verse, "Of whom the world was not worthy."
Since our last letter, I have had the opportunity to visit several churches. I enjoyed being with Elder Lonnie Mozingo, Sr. and the church he pastors in Pascagoula, Mississippi. I enjoyed the special time with Elder Lonnie. I attended the annual meeting of Bethel Church in Nashville, Tennessee where Elder Ronald Lawrence now pastors. This meeting was well attended and a little girl, about six years old, joined the church. I was with Elder J.R. Rakes for their communion meeting in July. I have been with them for this meeting in the past, but this year seemed to be a very special time. On Sunday morning, J.R.'s and Sister Estelle's grandson, Josh, joined the church. There was much rejoicing!!
What is happening at DONALDSON
Over the last few months we have been preaching through the book of 1st Corinthians. Though it was written almost two milleniums ago, it is just as contemporary today as the day it was written. Many of the subjects that we have approached have been very difficult to address, yet how needful they have been. This book addresses the subject of homosexuality which has become so prevalent in our society. It addresses fornication which is taught and encouraged on the television, in music and in the movies. It addresses husbands and wives. It exposes worldly wisdom and how it attacks the wisdom of God and the influence it has on the Christian Church. It sets forth the foundation of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ. It teaches Church discipline, yet, it displays God's grace to sinners as many of the sinful Corinthians became members of that Church. It shows that a church can, and usually does, have problems, as it gives encouragement to settle them in a spiritual way. This is a little summary of what we have learned thus far as we have only reached chapter seven.
As a preacher can become burdened to speak on a particular text, or group of scripture, he can also become burdened to speak on a whole book. I appreciate Harmony Church and their interest in this kind of teaching. I believe it is apostolic and the infant church practiced the expository preaching of books and psalms. It allows the membership to read ahead, meditate and focus on the word of God. I appreciate the study many of our members have put forth during this effort. We have become like the Bereans who searched the scriptures daily to see if these things are so!
Our annual trek to Lake Catherine State Park was well attended as our Church enjoyed some sweet fellowship under the canopy of God's creation. Our next outing is scheduled for the first Sunday in August at Brother Leon and Sister Patti Burris' home. Bring your ice cream freezers! Last year we had sack races, softball, and a free throw shootout. In all of this, we are not trying to attract the world. We just like to be together. We had a great time last year and we want to thank Leon and Patti for sharing their beautiful place with their Church family.
During our visit to the Metropolitan Tabernacle, I purchased a VCR tape entitled, "Charles H. Spurgeon, The Prince of Preachers." This tape is about Spurgeon's life and the narrator travels to the places in England where Mr. Spurgeon lived and preached. As much as we talk of Spurgeon, I thought some of you might enjoy checking this tape out of our library.
Please remember these in your prayers:
Sister Lema Clayton has been suffering from vertigo.
Sister Leona Sandage, our oldest member.
Brother Carl Brooks has suffered from a stroke.
Sister Vickie Mosley has been recently hospitalized for stomach complications.
Sister Louise Thomerson
Please remember our shut ins: Brother Horace Burnett, Sister Thelma Samons and Sister Icelean Holland. Let us remember that every member is a minister and a personal visit, a card or a phone call means so much.
Let us be mindful to thank the Lord for prayers answered for those listed in our last publication who are doing much better.