Christ Church St. Alban’s

Our last concert was held at Christ Church St. Alban’s in Chiswick. This congregation has a special story  of how they came to be in this building which was erected in 1887. The church existed in that facility for many years but unfortunately dwindled away slowly, and for the twelve or so years prior to 2014, the building sat empty and in disarray. Plans were underway to turn the structure into nine luxury flats, but the people of a nearby congregation, Christ Church Turnham Green, as well as the local community had different ideas. The vicar, Reverend Richard Moy, felt called to establish a new church plant in the old building as his congregation had been growing and needed additional space. 

I had the chance to speak with a church member, Barbara, who gave more details. She said just before the final decision regarding the re-development of the building into apartments was supposed to occur, the Turnham Green family as well as Christians in the community had a 24 hour prayer vigil, seeking God’s will and direction for their plans. Thankfully, the decision was overturned and in September 2014, a new group of believers began meeting in the old building. A tremendous work of reconstruction and renovation has been undertaken to restore the property (they have spent two winters in the stone building with no heat!) and recently the roof was completed. During the roof construction each member of the church, children included, wrote prayers, blessings, and their vision for the church on the tiles used for the roof. 

This final worship service was one of the most moving. When we first arrived some of us were a bit skeptical because of the scaffolding on the outside of the building and the construction going on inside. However just before the concert we had a short prayer session with the young assistant minister of the congregation, and his enthusiasm and heart for the Gospel renewed our energy and set the stage for a sweet time of worship with the congregation. He came and encouraged us and prayed for us even though his daughter had just been admitted to the hospital with pneumonia! The service truly was one of worship, with a packed audience who participated and sang along with us. 

Sylvia Charton spoke to a younger lady at St Albans who said what an inspiration our choir had been to her and the people listening. She said, “you do not sing or perform, you worship and we can see it in your smiles and faces.” Jan Matthias had a similar conversation with a sweet young lady named Marie, who is serving as an intern at the church. Marie told Jan and Stacy, “during the concert the air was thin–like there was a union between heaven and earth. God’s glory was poured out in our church tonight because of you.”

Thank you so much for reading along with our progress this week! We have felt your prayers and have seen the Lord working in many ways. We may have another few posts over the next couple of weeks as we collect more stories that merit sharing, but for now, the daily updates are ending! Please pray for the people we have encountered over the last week. Pray that the Gospel takes root in their hearts and bears fruit! Pray for the group members who are traveling home over the coming days. A large portion of our group flew back to Charlotte today, so you may get to hug a few of them tomorrow morning! Those of us who have been on this trip truly do appreciate and love every one of you rope-holders back home and you have been with us in our hearts! Our calling has been to to fill empty lives with the good news of Jesus’ empty tomb, but this calling does not stop for any of us as believers until Christ calls us home. 

I’ll close with one more personal story for now, and will share more as I learn of them! 

During the impromptu concert at York Minster, I noticed a young man standing alone under a tree, wearing an apron. I went over to speak with him and learned that he is in school at the university and is working on the side to support himself. I asked Nicholas if he went to church. A look of anger flashed across his face as he said “I’m not religious.” I agreed with him and said “Nicholas, you’re right, none of us needs to focus on being religious. But we do need to be spiritual.” We talked for a few more minutes and I explained to him that the whole reason our choir had come to the UK to sing was to share the love of God with others. We had very little time because he had to get back to work and we were about to leave York. I promised him that I would be praying for him daily, that he would do well in school and that he would find someone who could tell him about Jesus. I ask you to join me in praying for this young man. -Pete Charton

“Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore him! All that has life and breath come now with praises before him. Let the amen sound from his people again! Gladly for aye we adore him. ”

“Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus! Just to take him at his word; just to rest upon his promise just to know thus saith the Lord. Jesus Jesus! How I trust him! How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er; Jesus Jesus precious Jesus. Oh for grace to trust him more.” 


Day 6: The Last Day

This was a bittersweet day as it marked the day of our final worship services of the trip. We left Cambridge this morning and made a special surprise visit to the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, where 3,812 men and women of our armed services who were killed in World War II are buried. An additional 5,127 names of those missing in action are inscribed on a tremendous wall of Portland stone which overlooks a reflection pool, bounded by a chapel at one end and an American flag at the other. The memorial sits on 30 beautiful acres of land, and the morning was bright and crisp as we spent time reflecting on the sacrifices made to preserve freedom–freedom which has made it possible for us to worship and serve Christ freely and openly and to proclaim His message to the world. It was a special time for us as we gathered around the flag for a prayer and an a capella verse of “Let There Be Peace On Earth.”

Notice our sweet and talented Welsh driver of the “Fish” bus singing along with us on the right of the photo. 

After leaving Cambridge we headed to Olney, a darling village about an hour outside London, and home to the parish church where John Newton spent the bulk of his preaching career. We first went to Sutcliffe Baptist Church, named for John Sutcliffe, an important figure in Christian history for the impact he had on his congregation and community. At the time he came to Olney, they were so focused on predestination they did nothing to witness to their friends or neighbors. Because of Sutcliffe, the church became more evangelistic and led to a time of spiritual growth in the community. During Sutcliffe’s career he came to know a local young man named William Carey–the Lord used the influence of John Sutcliffe to mold Carey into the preacher and missionary we still know today. Sutcliffe went on to mentor and teach other young men as well. 

We had a special time of hearing from the current pastor of this church, the Rev. Ian Field who shared the history of Sutcliffe, Carey, and others. He reminded us that we all have an opportunity to encourage others–but in particular those who are young in the faith. We all know someone who could be used of God, who needs that nudge out of the door to begin a life that centers around service to our Creator. Rev. Field spoke of Andrew Fuller, John Sutcliffe and John Ryland, who became known as the “rope holders”–from a quote by Carey (referring to going into India as a missionary) “I will go down if you will hold the rope!” He also reminded us, “the light shines farthest which shines brightest at home.” His point was to make sure we remember the roles that are less “glamorous”–faithful giving, fervent prayer, ministry to our local community and family–are no less important than those of an overseas missionary. 

We had a bit of time after our session with Rev. Field before heading to our afternoon worship service. Olney provided several places for a spot of tea!

The afternoon worship at Olney Parish Church was truly special and memorable. This church is where John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace” spent most of his years as a pastor. We had a sweet time of worship with a handful of people from the village, and received a history of Newton’s life and conversion from Elizabeth Knight, trustee from a local museum. Rev. Field also joined us and preached a brief yet powerful sermon on grace and mercy–mercy meaning we are spared from the punishment we deserve because of our sin; and grace being the free and costly gift of God to us, which we can do nothing to earn or repay. 

When the worship service was over, we headed to London for our final concert.  It was a magnificent evening of worship…please come back tomorrow for the full story!

Psalm 72:18-19 NIV

Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds.Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.

Day 5: Bunyan Meeting Church

After a little stop in the town of Cambridge to see the university, we headed to Bedford, England. Bedford was the home of John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan spent twelve years in prison for standing up for his Christian beliefs and refusing to recant the message of his sermons. A few times he was released on probation, but each time would be reimprisoned for preaching the Gospel. 

We received a warm welcome from the congregation. 

These ladies are wearing Gospel shoes!

Tomorrow we head towards London and our final two concerts. More mission stories to come tomorrow morning…after some rest! Thank you for your prayers; we have felt them and appreciate them more than you know. 

Day 4: York Minster Cathedral

Day 4: York Minster Cathedral

Today was an exciting and exhilarating experience for our group–singing in a tremendous cathedral where our songs took on new life as they reverberated from the rafters. Our audience for the day was the unsuspecting visitors to the Minster, who may have been expecting a quiet walk reflecting on ancient relics dating back to the 1300’s. Today’s visitors enjoyed the cathedral with the background music of praises to the Lord. Many stopped to listen and then visited with us afterwards. We began the day with a walk through the town of York on our way to the cathedral. This gave us the opportunity to invite people to hear us sing–we attracted quite a bit of attention as the 70 of us traipsed around in our matching outfits! 

This street is in the Guiness Book of World Records for being the shortest street with the longest name. 

Most of the blog pictures are being provided by our dear photographers, Chuck Hilton and David Bowers. Look closely and you can see one of them here!

The young man on the left is the talented driver of the Fish bus, Leon. The other fellow is our guide, Tom. Both have been fantastic additions to our journey!

Before the concert we gathered to pray for each other and for the people we met today. 

After the concert we had a chance to mingle with the crowd that had gathered inside the cathedral before heading outside to get a group photo. As we were lining up on the stairs, an even larger crowd began to assemble in the street and along the sidewalks, curiously watching us. Some even began taking pictures of us! So, Stuart took the opportunity to sing the Gospel and we broke out in song! This attracted even more attention and led to more personal encounters and “holy nudges.” It was a wonderful day. Pray for every person who heard even a single line of our music today and for their salvation! Pray that we are being faithful sowers of the seeds of truth and that the Holy Spirit will affect many hearts. 

“There is a tomb far away, where once the Lord of life was laid. Come and see His linen shroud–alleluia, alleluia, alleluia , the tomb is empty now! Alleluia! Alleluia!”

Nancy and Wallace met these two girls from China at Betty’s Tea Room in York during lunch. They had the chance to chat with the girls and invite them to the concert–and they both came! Nancy and Wallace were able to share with the girls and gave each of them Gideon testaments. Pray for these girls, that they will come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior!

You’ll notice that we have a “new” choir member right there front and center. No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That’s our Cindy Burn, world class pianist who was roped into singing after our photo op turned into an impromptu concert!Of course, she sang with as much talent and aplomb as she does everything. We are so thankful she is here with us!


Today at York Minster I met a lovely couple, Maureen and Roger of Manchester. They were in York touring, “soaking up a little culture,” as Roger put it. Today was their 60th anniversary! Maureen will be 90. Next week. As we talked I found out that they loved the concert and said they were blessed by it. This couple considers themselves “culture ally Christian”… “Not very religious,” as Roger said. I feel I didn’t do a good job of witnessing (I was so glad to see Ron Watford come up to them just after me to share with them!) but I did ask them if there was anything I could pray about for them. Roger asked for prayers for good health. Please pray for Roger and Maureen, that they enjoy good health and come to know Jesus. -Jennifer Rust

A Holy Nudge

After an incredible morning of worship and fellowship with our new Scottish friends at New Monkland Parish Church, we noticed an elderly man standing by his back gate waving to us we walked by on the way to the buses. He seemed captivated by the unusual sight of two large motor coaches parked in the lane and a host of red-and-black-clad Americans clambering aboard. 

We waved cheerily back at the gentleman and began settling into our seats for the next journey. All but one of us, that is. Looking out the coach window, we discovered our Beth deep in conversation with the gentleman. Presently, she broke away and hurried aboard the bus, just in time for us to move on. She reported that the man was delighted with the Gideon Bible that she gave him and responded with a hug and kiss for her. 

In the space of a few minutes, Beth had followed the nudging of the Holy Spirit and made a sweet contact for the Kingdom. May we all be like Beth—listening to the Spirit and acting quickly.

-Mary Ann Calloway

Pray for us today as we sing at the York Minster cathedral–without any accompaniment! The Lord has been faithful to bring to us those who have needed to hear our message of truth–pray for the hearts of the hearers who are not expecting to hear a concert as they visit the Minster. Only God knows with whom our paths will cross today. May we all be sensitive to that “holy nudge” as we seek opportunities to share the hope of Christ. 

Day 3: Harrogate Baptist Church

Today was a lovely day of travel from Edinburgh through the Scottish and English countryside down to Harrogate, a town in Yorkshire. We could not have asked for a more beautiful day to enjoy the beauty of creation. On the way, we stopped by the Jedburgh Abbey ruins and the Scotland-England border.

In the afternoon we arrived at Harrogate Baptist Church to begin rehearsing for our evening concert. Once again, we were blessed to worship with the church members and their guests, and we even got to see an RHBC family member, Leigh Workman! 


With tears rolling down her face, the woman said to me after the service at the church in St. Andrews: “Your wonderful music and singing has shaken the dust from the rafters of this ancient Kirk (“church”). Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming to us!” -Pete Charton 

After the concert [Holy Trinity Church] I spoke with Moya (Scottish for “Mary”). She shared, “I’ve been praying so long for the Spirit to return to this church. Last time I was praying I didn’t know you were coming. You came and brought the Spirit. I hope He stays.” -Nancy Neal

On the plane from New York, Randy and Ann Freeman got to meet and talk with Alex Carroll, an American headed to St. Andrews to study marine biology for the next two years. In the customs line at the airport, Nancy Neal and Melody Banister spent more time talking with this young lady who was carrying her violin case on her back. Turns out, music is her second love. They invited her to our concert at Holy Trinity Church, and she was there on the third row singing and worshipping with us. The ladies exchanged email addresses with her so we can keep in touch. Pray for Alex as she adjusts to her new home in a foreign land, and pray that the words she heard will light a flame in her heart to grow in the Lord and reach others for Him.


Day 2: New Monkland Parish Church and Holy Trinity Church 

Day 2: New Monkland Parish Church and Holy Trinity Church 

Sunday has been a glorious Lord’s day for us here in Scotland as we worshipped with our brothers and sisters, beginning at New Monkland Parish Church. What a joyous congregation of all ages! We all truly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, and words of songs we have rehearsed for months came to life with new meaning as we sang with the Scottish believers. We received a blessing from this sweet congregation in many ways, and it was a beautiful start to our tour. 

We were welcomed as we approached the church by the sound of bagpipes!

The church people had been preparing for our coming in several ways. As we entered the sanctuary we were each given a small thistle corsage–the thistle is one of the main symbols of Scotland. They invited community members and even a neighboring congregation to join them for the service this morning. After church they prepared a delicious spread for us for lunch! The meal included a variety of tasty dishes (yes, we ate haggis!) and ended with homemade cakes and desserts. 

These lads provided our luncheon welcome music!

This sweet lass is a 6 year old named Ellie. She and her friends from Sunday school enjoyed the concert from the front row, and she performed a traditional Highlands dance for us at lunch! 

During lunch we had the opportunity to sit and talk with some of the church members, primarily those who make up their group of elders. One of the ladies shared that yesterday had been her anniversary as well as the birthday of her late husband, and she had felt rather sad missing him. However, the Lord used our music to lift her spirits and redirect her focus to Himself rather than on her circumstances. 

After lunch we boarded our buses and headed to St. Andrews where we had a wee bit of time for sight seeing before we went to the church to begin rehearsal. We enjoyed the gorgeous drive through the countryside on the way to St. Andrews!

Our evening concert was at Holy Trinity Church.  We enjoyed the great acoustics in the vaulted stone and stained glass church. The building is special because John Knox, founder of the Presbyterian denomination in Scotland and a leader in the Reformation, preached his first sermon here in June, 1547; it also houses one of the original copies of the King James Bible. Though the building was lovely, the real joy came in seeing the Church again–the precious faces of fellow Believers , several of whom shed tears as we lifted the name of Jesus. Pray for this congregation as they are striving to shine the light of Christ in their community. They also were most gracious hosts and provided a delicious supper for us before the concert. We enjoyed meeting many of the people–one couple who saw publicity about our choir in July travelled 60 miles to come tonight. Another couple has a daughter living in Irmo!

We are grateful for the blessings we experienced today and are looking forward to traveling to Harrogate, England tomorrow for our next adventure!

The Lord provided mission opportunities even during our travels.  Cathy Strickland writes: “One of our members was walking through the huge St. Pancras train station in London where a couple of pianos are available for waiting passengers As she approached one, she heard a man playing “How Great Thou Art” and she spontaneously joined in singing. He stopped and beamed, looked up to heaven, and crossed himself. “That’s my favorite song because my mother taught it to me!” He said. He wanted her to sing it again and she did as the both gave an impromptu concert while many passed by. “Do you know Jesus?” She asked. He said he was raised in the church as a boy. “This was to remind you that Jesus loves you!” she said. It was a special moment for both of them. His hands were crippled and he played for change people would leave. Pray that “Michael” will grow closer to God.”