Derek Kingston

Derek probably first attended Christ Church as an infant - in 1940

This is the church to which I was brought as a baby in a pram and parked at the back during the service, and where I was baptized by the Rev Alan Wood. Though when it comes to personal memories, I must confess to having junior moments.
This is the church where as a child I was taken out of the morning service by my father up Rayleigh Mount or Hockley Woods (depending on the anticipated length of the sermon!) Even in those days fresh air was considered better than sermons for children and perhaps for Dads too!
This is the church I attended Sunday School as a child first in the Primary room under Miss Purkiss and then in Juniors under my mother. The teacher I remember most was Jean Hillier so I hold her responsible for my basic teaching.
This is the church that had very long pews that vibrated when family members saw the funny side of the service, which was not infrequent, and that stuck to your clothes in hot weather after being varnished.
This is the church where I learnt to serve, first as a sidesman as we were then known (I remember I always took the right hand side of the church), and then as a teacher in the Sunday school and finally as a treasurer in the Young Peoples Fellowship.
This is the church where I learnt to put faith into words and practice. Through conferences, discussions, holidays and activities of the Y.P.F., I was exposed to the wider mission of the church in the community and overseas. I remember I gave my first talk at Eastwood Lodge to a group of elderly ladies hard of hearing but full of graciousness. "That was a lovely talk" said one. "Don't pay any attention to her" said another "She's deaf!"
This is the church where I preached my first sermon. Actually it was a joint sermon with Peter Elliott. And I can still remember the text. 'Every man's work will one day be shown for what it is'

This is the church where I first learnt how many pubs there were in Rayleigh. (Ten at that time) At Christmas time the Rev Frank Miller used to lead us round all the pubs in Rayleigh singing carols to raise money for various charitable causes.
This is the church where my calling to go overseas clarified and developed through missionary conferences at Felixstone and Swanwick (to which Peter and I cycled in the days before the M1. Who would believe that now?) and where the process for my acceptance as a Congregationalist minister and missionary began.
This is the church where after my training at Mansfield College and Selly Oak Colleges, I was ordained and commissioned for service with the Presbyterian Church in Malaysia and Singapore at the time when a certain Hubert Smith was minister. He therefore had the dubious task of praying over me and laying hands on my well greased hair!
This is the church that has been a constant support and encouragement throughout our overseas ministry, a church that has a remarkable record of encouraging its members young and old into full time Christian service. During the last 50 years no less than eight members from Eric Blacklock to Kimberley Crews and including a 'Mod and a Rocker' have been used by God in this way, five as ordained ministers. I cannot think of any other church that has been so blessed. It is something we should give special thanks to God for in this Centenary Year.
This the church where Leng and I were married by the Rev Bernard Thorogood who was then between General Secretary jobs at the Council for World Mission and the United Reformed Church.
This is the church where in an unexpected reversal of roles I baptised my father in his later years. He had no record of his baptism and so just as he had brought me to be baptised as a child, I had the privilege of baptising him in his old age.
This is the church where our younger daughter Deborah was also baptised and where our elder daughter Jane might have been married if we had had sufficient parking facilities!
This is the church to which after retirement, Leng and I have returned and received the blessing of the preaching ministry of Birgit and David and the teaching ministry of Hubert Smith in our House Group. After years of hearing mainly myself (and for Leng my sermons) it is a real joy to receive together as a couple.
So this to me is Christ Church where I feel surrounded by a great crowd or should it be cloud of witnesses, people who have been an essential part of my growth and life as a Christian and as a minister of the gospel. Christ Church, not just a building though the continuity a building gives is important, not just people though the fellowship and worship is vital. It is a small signpost to God's Kingdom along with many other signposts, and a continuing reminder of God's way, God's truth and God's life. My prayer in this Centenary Year is that we may always follow the direction signposted by God through His Church.