My Walk With God – David Cowling

Two young men met in a fog bound cobbled northern English street. It was evening, perhaps going up to ten; the light of gas street lamps seemed to heighten what was a moment of decision for both of them.

The date was November 1958, the place, Oldham in Lancashire. They were both new Christians, experiencing their conversions the previous year. Friends from their school days and both now studying architecture alongside working in local architectural practices, they had been to a Thursday evening fellowship in the Edward Street Methodist Church.

There they had listened to a silver haired Cliff College evangelist, and the challenge had been quite simple: ‘What is God calling you to do?’

And we both knew; Alan and I knew, that God wanted there to be a ‘Mission Band’ in the Town Centre in Oldham. And so it was that somehow or other there was a ‘Mission Band’ in the Methodist Church on Union Street, one of the main thoroughfares of the Town Centre.

It began life in January 1959. It met at 8.00 pm on every Sunday Evening, and its object was to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel to the young people going about the town on a Sunday evening.

Its leadership was the ad hoc group of young people who emerged around us, aged from their mid-teens to early twenties. Alan and I were both twenty one, the oldest amongst us, 26. I did not know it then, but we were embarking upon a roller coaster adventure, which would mark us for all of the future years of our ‘Walk with God’.

The Minister of the Church was the East Oldham Circuit Superintendent, the Rev. G. Dean Sherriff. He was in a very real sense our guardian against those who would have ejected us.

A man of great compassion and wisdom, he only came amongst us when we asked him to, but we always knew that he was there for us.

Our distant spiritual guru was the Rev. Roy Dew, who had left the town four years earlier, but whose legacy had been the ‘South Chadderton Mission Band’, within which both Alan and I had come into Christian faith. He was from ‘outwith’ the Church, and I was a ‘cradle Methodist’.

The new ‘Mission Band’ was based upon a twin track approach to those who came and joined us. There was the charismatic Worship of the Sunday Evening Meeting; and, the Fellowship activities we tried to put in place.

In the first, we developed our own worship leaders, several of us already being ‘on Trial’ local preachers in our own circuits. Worship was enabled in so many ways, because our God really was for us a ‘God of Surprises’; wonderful gifts emerged, such as our talented Anglican pianist who couldn’t even read music!

We met indoors in wintertime, and on occasion tried ourselves at open air witness and worship in the summertime. We also, as and when asked, took our worship on the road, conducting ‘missions’ in the neighbourhoods of such Churches as would invite us.

Sometimes at a distance. The door knocker became an invaluable contact with new people. Some who remained friends for a life time.

The Fellowship activities began with meeting to go for hill walks; but then went up a major step when the local Hospital invited us to put on Saturday evening entertainment and fellowship for long term residential psychiatric patients who never ever left the hospital.

Again, new friends, new revelations, new challenges, new opportunities. Yet wonderfully in God’s resourcing, we did it; every other week for a time, and we did it!

And somehow or other in God’s grace, young people whom we would never otherwise have met, were coming forward and committing their lives to Christ. Our normal weekly attendance soared beyond sixty, and the age range with it to also embrace some older folks who found there that which was missing elsewhere in their lives.

Eventually there were those from many denominations, and those from none. Leaders from other local churches turned up to see what God was doing [or what it was all about!]. Of course, that is but a clue to the burden which eventually some of us were bearing.

Essentially we were running a new and charismatic young Church, and with all the pastoral responsibilities which inevitably emerged. I was working full time, and also studying.

But we were all changing; people were maturing, marrying and moving on. Alan had already given up part-time study and gone to university.

I was courting Beryl, and in due course we were married and set up home.

We became parents, and our lives were inevitably moving to their next stage. I was approaching final qualification as an architect, and the need to secure future employment as such loomed large.

In August 1962 I started a new job in Boston in Lincolnshire, leaving Oldham in a black Ford Popular. For a time, and until Beryl could join me, I was travelling back to Oldham every week-end, leaving for the 125 mile journey back to Boston after Mission Band concluded. Mission Band was anyway developing into the hands of others, and also moving premises.

By the end of that year Beryl and I were domiciled in Boston, and I was learning to be a Local Preacher in a 36 church Methodist rural circuit. When I was eventually recognised as a Methodist Local Preacher, it was in the Centenary Methodist Church in Boston – and we were committed to the next stage of our own ‘Walk with God’.
The ‘East Oldham Mission Band’ had been a four year adventure in our lives.

Who we were to be, what things we would do, the lifelong friends we would have, even the life of today, were all shaped in those ‘Mission Band’ years.

I pray for all of those out there the world, now in more mature years, who shared those four years with us.

(David Cowling is the Author of Methodism in Scotland and in Perth)

My Walk With God is published in Kindle Format.

My Walk With God – Volume 1 – costs only £1.99 and may be downloaded by going to:-


My Walk With God – Volume 2 – also costs only £1.99 and may be downloaded by going to:-


With many peaceful blessings


The ‘Parable’ of the Rope

As the congregation of St Machar’s Cathedral, Aberdeen, entered the church, they saw a short coil of new rope hanging just inside the door, and beside it a notice with one word on it – “Remember”.

No wonder there were some puzzled faces in the pews that morning, for what on earth could a length of rope have to do with them – and what did they have to remember?

Then the minister explained. It seems that he’d heard a rope-maker in the city tell how one of the delicate fibres that make up a rope would snap easily at a touch. Yet when hundreds of them are woven into a ope not even the strongest man on earth could break them!

The strength of the rope depended on the fibres – and the more fibres that went into the rope the stronger it would be.

Each member of the church is like a fibre in a rope. Perhaps they are unable to do much on their own, but united in their faith they find strength in each other and the more powerful that faith becomes.

And so that’s why the rope and the reminder are to be left at the door of St Machar’s; a constant challenge to the people who pass in and out of the Cathedral!


I hope you like my Thought for this Sunday

May God’s blessings go with you always





An Introduction to William Barclay

William Barclay was born on December 5th 1907 in Wick, Scotland, and passed away on January 24th 1978 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Barclay was a Church of Scotland Minister and a Professor of Divinity and Biblical criticism at the University of Glasgow.

He was very well known for the many radio and television programmes in which he participated.

He specialised in the New Testament and wrote numerous books containing easily understood commentaries on all the chapters within the New Testament.

And today, a large number of preachers regularly use his commentaries when preparing their sermons.

Here are just a few of his quotes:-

* Religion fails if it cannot speak to men as they are.

* A man may well be condemned, not for doing something but for doing nothing.

* The tragedy of life and of the world is not that men do not know God; the tragedy is that, knowing Him, they still insist on going their own way.

* Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.

* The word grace emphasizes at one and the same time the helpless poverty of man and the limitless kindness of God

* We will often find compensation if we think more of what life has given us and less about what life has taken away.

WISE words, indeed!

Have a wonderful day, wherever you are and whatever you may be doing.

With many blessings of loving abundance



Two books about the Rev John Brown – freely available via Kindle

TWO Kindle Books now available to freely download:-

The Rev John Brown was born on the 23d December 1722 in the small village of Carpow, which is situated in the parish of Abernethy, in the county of Perthshire (Scotland).

As a child, living in impoverished conditions, John contented himself with learning as much about life as he could; he was especially drawn to the Bible, which was his great love and joy.

And his very limited time at school saw him only being able to learn elementary knowledge about reading, writing and arithmetic.

By the age of thirteen he was an orphan, living in poverty. He became a herd-boy, watching sheep to earn his living. However, he still had a deep interest in the things of God, and set out to educate himself in the original languages of the Bible.

And after completing all his studies, Brown was called to be the pastor in the town of Haddington.

He became a prolific author and one of his best known works is The Self-Interpreting Bible, which was published in two volumes in 1778.

I have produced two kindles books (see below) which are now available for you to freely download until Thursday, January 29th.
The Life and Times of the Rev John Brown:-




The Christian Art of the Rev John Brown:-

With many peaceful blessings



The Life and Times of the Rev John Brown (1722-1787) – my new kindle book

My new Kindle Book – ‘The Life and Times of the Rev John Brown – will be freely available for you to download onto your Kindle from today until February 25th

I have been researching the life of John Brown for some months past. I first came across Brown when I acquired a very old copy of his book ‘The Self Interpreting Bible’ which he published in 1778. He interested me greatly and some 100+ pages and in excess of 20,000 words later I have managed to create a fairly comprehensive biography of Brown’s ministry during the 18th century. 

For many years until his passing in 1787 he was the Minister of St Marys Church, Haddington (in Scotland). He lived within the same time frame as John Wesley but although Wesley did travel through Haddington during his journeys to Scotland Brown and Wesley never appear to have met. 

Included in my new book are copies of some of the beautiful pictures that are included in Brown’s ‘Self Interpreting Bible’ 

To freely download your copy of ‘The Life and Times of the Rev John Brown’ please go to:-

With many peaceful blessings