On my pinboard, above my desk at work, is a print out of an article that was written 43 years ago titled ‘God’s Glorious Church’. It was published by the Mid-Sussex Times on the 27 February 1981 and it was written by David Coak.
David was the first leader of our church - what is now The King’s Church Mid-Sussex. It all started back in 1968 when a small group of Christians began to meet in a home in Scaynes Hill to study the Bible together. After a little while, one of the people in the group suggested inviting a friend of theirs to come and speak – his name was Terry Virgo.
In 1973, Terry started to travel and came to be with this group every fortnight. Then, in August 1977, this home group, which often numbered 30-40 people, formed the nucleus of Terry’s first church plant. Mid-Sussex Christian Fellowship (as the church was then named) began to meet in the Bar Lounge of Clair Hall, in Haywards Heath under the leadership of David Coak.
David was a wonderful Bible teacher who also loved and welcomed the ministry and gifts of the Holy Spirit. He, and his wife Margaret, also carried a heart for mission, later planting churches in Cambridge and then Oxford, churches which are both still thriving and impacting their cities today.
Many who are still in our church benefitted from David and Margaret’s example, life, love and ministry. We are who we are today because of the investment they gave and the foundations they laid. As is often said, we really do stand on the shoulders of giants.
In the article, written 43 years ago, David writes about a magnificent vision for the local church. He speaks of the Holy Spirit enabling “Christians to be a living demonstration of God’s Holiness, Truth and Love”. Towards the end of the article, he writes this:
“The prospects are exciting, for Jesus is already at work, bringing believers together in their common love for Him…..Give everything to God, including prejudices, and we shall experience a work of God in our day as great as any before”.
What amazing faith for Jesus and his church!
I have the privilege of leading the team in this season of our church’s life. We still carry a love for God’s word, an eagerness for the ministry of the Holy Spirit and a belief that we shall experience a great work of God in our day.
I am all too aware that I am building on the foundations that others have laid. I am so grateful for David and all those who have led before, for the values they laid as key foundation stones. We can only do what we do in our day, because they pioneered in such an amazing way in theirs.
After a short illness, David passed away just before Christmas. We want to send our love to Margaret and the rest of the family, praying for them to know God’s comfort, goodness and mercy.
There is a thanksgiving service for David’s life on Thursday 01 February at 11.00am, at All Saints Church, in Lindfield followed by light refreshments. If you plan to attend, please can you inform the family by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Jim Partridge, Senior Pastor of The King's Church Mid-Sussex