6th February 2023

For many years I have studied my family history and that of my wife, Pauline. Occasionally it can lead to the discovery of something unexpected. We knew Pauline’s family had been Baptists for two generations, but it was surprising to discover that some of her ancestors had been Baptists as far back as the late 17th century. They were members of a church in Hertfordshire whose minister at the turn of the 18th/19th century kept immaculate records of the births, marriages and burials of his flock. Among those listed, as well as her family members, I noticed the burial in 1818 of a Tutor at a local Dissenting Academy – that is what Free Church theological colleges were called in those days. Delving further I discovered that a 19th century Principal of Bristol Baptist College had been a student at that same academy.

For many years I had the privilege of being involved with the Bristol college, and was grateful to be able to make a small contribution to the preparation for ordained ministry of many men and women. I also realised recently that this year is the centenary of when my father became a minister – a calling he followed for more than forty years.

We ‘lay’ people owe a great deal to those who dedicate their lives to Christian ministry. We may only see them leading worship on a Sunday (an important part of their ministry) but they also exercise their ministry in so many more ways. Let us give thanks to God for these faithful servants of the Gospel.

David T Roberts