Basingstoke (South Ham Methodist Church)
some verses written in Germany
At some point during 1964, if not earlier, having come to personal faith in Christ through the reading of one of Charles Wesley’s hymns, I left Church Street Methodist Church, Basingstoke, where my parents attended (when they went), and began attending South Ham, a new church-plant on an immense housing estate, and nearer to our home. The minister was Bill Murphy, whose ministry seemed to be of a warmer, more evangelistic character than that at the big town church. The present church building had not yet been built, and the church hall was used for services. Folding wooden chairs were placed in rows for the congregation, and the lively services and other meetings often conveyed the time-honoured Methodist call to personal conversion and consecration. After the evening services, the young people used to meet at the home of Bill and Marion Taylor, and there was a warm spiritual atmosphere among us, good discussions, prayer and fun. God was at work within us.
My last Sunday at South Ham Methodist Church was 21st. February, 1965, before I set off by train for Backnang, in southern Germany, to take up work as a postman with a view to improving my German before going up to Cambridge in the October to study Modern and Medieval Languages. Towards the end of the three months I spent in Germany, I penned the attached verses as I looked forward to re-joining the worship, fellowship and evangelism at South Ham once I was back home.
South Ham Methodist Church
That chapel where in harmony each week
Some souls redeemed, and others who yet seek,
To worship God, perchance to hear Him speak,
Return, and humbly bow, sincere and meek,
To feel His comfort, or receive a streak
Of His dear light within their darkness bleak,
And sense His love unsearchable, unique –
Once more within their midst! soon I’ll be there,
To sing God’s praise, to offer up a prayer,
To lay my sinful nature ’fore Him bare,
And know His tender love, His grace and care
Allow that I from guilt be cleansed as fair
As any snow untrodden mount did bear;
In hymns to Him my love I shall declare,
My inward longing for that gift so rare
Of perfect purity nought can impair;
Our fellowship again in Him we’ll share –
What can man find so rich? or how, or where?
Once more my worship and theirs shall combine,
And rise united to the sphere divine.
– Germany, 3rd June, 1965