By Michael Purton
A NEW minister at Rodborough Tabernacle says he wants to “lead a lively liberal and progressive church, that is open, inclusive and diverse”.
Rev Simon Helme will be inducted as the new minister at the United Reformed Church this Sunday, September 11, at 3pm.
Simon said: “I hope to lead a lively liberal and progressive church, that is open, inclusive and diverse and tries to follow the way of Jesus in the 21 st century. I hope we will have fun doing it.
“Church should be a place where you can laugh as well as cry, where you can think and doubt as well as believe and sense the awe and mystery of life. It’s about being connected to God and your neighbour. It will be quite a ride.”
Simon is originally from Burnley in Lancashire and is a passionate supporter of the town’s football club. “They take up half my prayer life,” he joked.
As a United Reformed Church minister, Simon has been at Dursley Tabernacle for the last 21 years and will continue in that role as well as also being minister of Rodborough Tabernacle.
The previous minister, Rev Eric Massey, left Rodborough Tabernacle in July
The Tabernacle has a congregation of around 50 members of all ages. There has been a church on the present site below the slopes of Rodborough Common since the middle of the 18th century.
Rodborough Tabernacle has a valuable historical tradition dating back to the great non-conformist preacher George Whitefield in the 18th Century, whose connection gives rise to churches known as Tabernacles.
On Sunday, July 1 in 1739, George Whitefield preached on a Neolithic long barrow, now known as Whitefield’s (or Whitfield’s) Tump, on Minchinhampton Common. A young man called Thomas Adams was in the crowd and was so moved by Whitefield’s preaching that he gave the land to build the Tabernacle as an independent non-conformist place of worship in 1749.
The Tabernacle became an important and successful congregation, and people walked for many miles to attend services there.