Vine Church 2020 Review
Well what a year 2020 has been. There has never been a year quite like it. No one could have guessed at the start of 2020 what the year ahead would look like.
We kicked off 2020 on Sunday 5th January with a message titled “2020 Vision.” In tis message we read about a powerful encounter that Martin Luther King had after a crisis of confidence. He had been receiving numerous obscene and threatening phone calls and one evening it got too much and he couldn’t sleep. He got down on his knees to pray and He had a powerful encounter with God:
“Then it happened: And it seemed at that moment that I could hear an inner voice saying to me, ‘Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo I will be with you, even until the end of the world.’… I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. No never alone. No never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. That experience gave King a new strength and courage. “Almost at once my fears began to go. My uncertainty disappeared.” He went back to bed no longer worried about the threats of bombings.—”
Bearing the Cross, David J. Garrow
King had an encounter with Jesus that he said allowed him to face with calm and confidence the bombing of his house just a few days later.
None of us knew at that point in 2020 that each of us would need that same “calm and confidence” to face another explosion approaching in the year 2020. Each one of us needs that personal encounter with the living God that all of God’s people have had to give them courage to “fight on” This courage comes from the awareness of Emmanuel. That God is with us and will never leave us alone. This is what gave King courage and confidence and what brough prosperity and success to so many Biblical heroes from Abraham to Moses, Joseph to King David and through to Paul on that road to Damascus. No-one knew that in this year 2020 that lay ahead, our very own founding Pastors Jimmy and Elma Dowds would have their very own personal encounter from the darkness they found themselves in.
On Sunday 12th January we had an amazing Open Doors Sunday with Cakes from Nigeria Syria and India . We heard from Mark and Sharon and all were deeply inspired, encouraged and challenged by the example and struggle of our persecuted church family.
On Saturday 25th January we had a blast at our Burns night ceilidh.
On the 2nd of February Stuart Hannah brought a message entitled “Expecting Flowers in the Desert”.
No-one knewl yet what kind of desert lay ahead but these verses brought us incredible hope that God can bring beauty out of the least expected:
Isaiah 43:18-19Forget the former things;do not dwell on the past.See, I am doing a new thing!Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?I am making a way in the wildernessand streams in the wasteland.
“How on earth can we live anxious free in times of an anxiety epidemic? How can we live in and emanate peace, joy and love?
The answer lies in understanding and frequently experiencing the fatherhood of God. Jesus referred to God as Father over 250 times and used the fatherhood of God as the foundation of much of his teaching and arguments.”
God was preparing us for what was to come in the year ahead with Alan’s message “Is God Moving in Your Life?
We ended February with a great message from guest speaker Jason Strathdee on “Church 101”
On the 28th February was the incredible Lift Dunfermline:
We started March with live session from artist Triple O.
In March it was with great sadness that we said farewell to Henry Upton and we did so with great hope in our hearts and assurance that he is now at peace, in perfect health and with his Saviour.
Henry was a great friend of many at the Vine church and will be greatly missed.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 NIV
In March as you will all clearly remember we made this announcement:
Update Wed 18th March 2020
“It is with sadness that today we have to cancel our Sunday services, Synergie youth and all Life Groups for the forseeable future. This is due to guidance on social distancing from the UK government.
We will be contacting and asking Life Group leaders to continue their Life Groups virtually using Zoom or some other technology and also to stay in regular contact with all their members. For those who are not yet in a Life Group, please let us know and we can open a group for you or help you connect with an existing group.”
No-one at this point knew what lay ahead and we had no idea how long we would be doing church but Zoom church was launched.
April to May
We continued with Zoom Church April to May with some excellent messages now being recored on video. Here’s a few reminders:
Remember that caterpillar?
Sunday 31st May 2020 we were treated to a special message from Australia by Jack Hanes:
£879 was raised in May allowing over 20 needy families in Uganda to stay connected to family and their church family through Eddie Henderson and Kwikiriza Daniel. A massive thanks for your love and generosity.
11,095 Free Meals
A 6 day trial of Free Meals was launched 12th to 17th May 2020. No one could have expected it to run for over 24 weeks and to provide 11,095 Free meals. None of this would have been possible without the excellence and diligence of Adrian Turk who oversaw the fundraising and administration in the early days and also all our wonderful volunteers. Thank you for you kindness and hard work.
A Dunfermline Press article dated 24th December 2020 reported:
THE Vine Centre in Dunfermline, who provided more than 100 people a day with a free meal during the pandemic, has been praised for it’s incredible work in a new report on the work of the church across Scotland during lockdown.
The ‘Free Meals Dunfermline’ service has been described as a “life-saver” by those who were supported by the scheme.
Pioneer Prayer ran throughout the year on Zoom on Tuesday nights 8-9pm. These have been very special times together and the engine room behind all we do as a church. Thank you to Stuart and Gill Hannah for doing a great work overseeing these in the past year.
It was with great sadness that Margaret Upton went home to be with her Lord and her beloved Henry on the 21st of November. She was 89 years old. Ian Dorrat in his tribute to Henry gives us some special words to understand and remember both Margaret and Henry:
“When he and Margaret first arrived at the church, around 1993, we were meeting in the Netherton Institute, a hired hall which we only had for a few hours on a Sunday. Henry and Margaret were determined to get to know the people in the church as quickly as possible. To achieve this goal they got hold of a copy of the church phone book. (Such things weren’t digital in those days) They then asked us to point out each person whose name was in the book so that they could put names to faces and speak to people more easily. This helped them integrate into the church and also meant that if there were any prayer requests, they would know who they were praying for.”
Our thoughts and prayer are with Henry and Margaret’s family and friends at this time for God to bring His comfort, peace and strength. Margaret and Henry touched so many lives and gave us all a great example of faithfulness, love, perseverance and humility.
Vine Media Team
Our new vine media team was launched in August and over £970 was raised from you generous people to help buy a new camera and equipment. A thank you to Greg Dick and Ronnie Sanderson for setting up the new team and all your hard work in 2020 to make live-streaming possible.
New Vine Church Administrator
Joyce started work as Vine Church Administrator on Monday 14th September 2020.
Feed the Children of South Africa
In September you wonderful people donated £448.50 to buy plastic food containers for the Tsepang Programme which is a non-profit organisation situated in South Africa. It’s prime function is the feeding of 310 vulnerable children who are primarily abandoned, abused, HIV or TB positive.
Online Preaching Continued through the year until we were able to resume Live services at the Vine.
Here are a few highlights and reminders:
And who could forget Lynsey’s incredible message about that chair on the Titanic!
On Sunday the 8th of November we were able to run a Trial Sunday Service at the Vine Church.
This was a great success and live services resumed from the following week with a maximum of 50 people and two services at 9:30am and 11:30am.
Our media team did a great job live-streaming our services and went from strength to strength each week especially the live-streaming of our Christmas Eve service.
Christmas Eve Free Meals
On Christmas Eve we delivered over 154 FREE Christmas meals which was a beautiful way to end the year.
Jimmy and Elma Dowds
In December Jimmy and Elma both contracted Coronavirus and felt its full effects. Jimmy ended up in hospital on the 22nd of December and spent Christmas in hospital. The church sprang to action and prayed on 24-7 Prayer sign up, on Zoom Prayer meetings and in personal prayer times.
One of Jimmy’s heroes Brian Doerkson, a worship leader heard of Jimmy’s illness and recorded one of his favourite songs for him on Christmas Day:
Jimmy incredibly was able to give a live update from his hospital bed on Church Zoom:
God answered our prayers and Jimmy had a miraculous turn around and got home on December 29th 2020.
As we reflect on 2020 we have much to be grateful for. It has been a challenge in many respects and has stretched us and challenged us all in ways we could not imagine.
One thing we have all been reminded of is how faithful our God is and how His grace truly is sufficient and all we need in every circumstance of life. I would like to finish with a few words I wrote at the start of the Pandemic. I feel they are fitting to end the year with because yet again we have learned how faithful and reliable our God is in the most difficult of circumstances.
Living Unafraid Through Coronavirus
I remember a time when I was faced with fear and worry about the future. My beautiful wife, Lynsey and I married on 17th March 2001. In 2003 we were expecting our first baby. We went for our first scan and they noticed a problem with the baby’s bladder. Over the coming weeks and months, Lynsey went through numerous tests and attempts to correct the problem. We were referred to a specialist in Glasgow who told us that our baby had very little chance of survival and termination was our best option.
We faced incredible worry and fear during this time. I was afraid of the future and uncertainty. What if our first baby died? How would my wife ever recover? We prayed and asked God for a miracle and decided not to terminate the pregnancy. Our son was born at 36 weeks on the 19th of April 2003 and lived for 59 minutes. He died in our arms peacefully.
That was almost 17 years ago. We now have five beautiful children and God has healed our hearts deeply in many ways. Looking back on that experience, I realise that sometimes life is very painful, disappointing and scary. One of the scariest things is an unknown future. I think back on this experience during this Coronavirus season because the future for many millions of people on earth is scary and unknown. This is very difficult to live with. One of the many things I admire about Lynsey during this was her childlike trust and faith in Father God that whatever happens, God would get her and us through. Lynsey continued to trust God even as we buried our son.
I don’t think we will ever fully understand why suffering on this side of eternity. One thing is for sure, we will face many challenges and experience pain on this earth. One thing we learned through the long and painful journey of losing our son was to walk closely to God in order to cope with the uncertainty and fear of the future. We didn’t do this perfectly but it did help us through our darkest days and it can help you in this very difficult season we are going through globally.
One of the many questions we face as Christians is how on earth can I live without fear during such times of crisis? We have these great encouraging verses from Isaiah:
‘But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. ‘
The Message translation puts it beautifully:
1 But now, GOD’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
2 When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—
3 Because I am GOD, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
4 That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.
5 “So don’t be afraid: I’m with you. I’ll round up all your scattered children, pull them in from east and west.
What hope can we take from these words? Here we are promised that you will go through waters and rivers, you will go through fire and flames. We are not told “if you go through waters and fires” but WHEN! It reminds us of the words of Jesus, “In this world you will have tribulation…” Tribulation comes from the Greek thlipsis.
Thlipsis means pressure, oppression, anguish, tribulation, adversity, affliction, crushing, squashing, squeezing, distress.
Imagine crushing some grapes in your hand, that is thlipsis, putting a lot of pressure on something. The word is used for crushing grapes or olives in a press. It’s worth noting here at the start that crushing grapes is a vital process in the production of fine wine.
The word tribulation is a fitting word for the world in coronavirus outbreak. The world like never before is being put under massive pressure physically, emotionally, mentally, economically and financially.
So Isaiah tells us we will go through rivers and fires. Jesus tells us we will go through tribulation and massive pressure. And this is what we are all feeling right now in so many ways. One thing that pressure does is that it creates fear in our lives. And the question becomes how can I live through the Coronavirus outbreak without fear and how do I deal with the fear that comes into my life?