Swindon AdvertiserPreaching to the unconverted (From Swindon Advertiser)

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Preaching to the unconverted

Swindon Advertiser: Tim Painter, left, and Bob Dible in the town centre Buy this photo Tim Painter, left, and Bob Dible in the town centre

THE street preachers from the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church can be seen in the town centre on most days.

They hand out small tracts with titles such as “When I See Thy Heavens”, “Christ is every answer” and “How the lost sheep was found”.

Some people politely accept a tract or listen to the preaching and some politely decline to do either, but there are more extreme reactions.

As far as the preachers are concerned, the very souls of the people they address are at stake, so those extreme reactions are part of the territory.

But who are they, these preachers, and what’s it like to do what they do?

“The best thing,” said Bob Dible, who at 77 has been a street preacher for 65 years, “is when somebody acknowledges that they love the Saviour. That’s a thrill.

“The worst thing is when somebody curses the name of Jesus and says they’re a heathen or an atheist. That goes through me. I think, ‘You poor soul – I’d be exactly the same if it was not for God’s infinite goodness.”

Mr Dible, a retired furniture shop owner who lives in Blunsdon, is married with four children, 18 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren. He first preached as a 12-year-old in Salisbury on the theme of John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

His fellow Swindon street preachers include Jake Whiteside, 38, who lives in Lawns and is married with five children, and Tim Painter, 48, from Cheney Manor, who is married with three children and one grandchild.

All three men were born into the faith, although it welcomes newcomers, and all three have plenty of stories from the spiritual front line. Each carries a Bible.

Mr Whiteside, who has a business supplying wildlife survey equipment, said: “I think perhaps one of the best things and one of the worst happened in the same preaching, when I had somebody come to face up to me, very close and very anti. I was quite frightened, I suppose about how aggressive he was getting.”

The preacher decided to defuse the situation by walking off, only for a police officer to appear from behind a pillar and reassure him.

“That was amazing to me because it was clear to me that God was offering his protection.”

Mr Painter has also had his share of abusive comments, but plenty of heartening experiences, too. There was the former drug addict who cleaned up his life after hearing the preaching, for example, and there was the time a man high on drugs began to harangue him, only for a passer-by to step in. “He shouted, ‘These people are my friends, leave them alone!’ It shocked the man to his senses.”

There are currently 153 members of the faith in Swindon, and meetings are held at their church in Cheney Manor Road at 5pm every Sunday. If anybody decides to come along after hearing the preaching or taking a tract, the preachers are delighted, but their mission is not strictly focused on recruitment.

As Mr Whiteside put it: ”We’re evangelising not proselytising.” Or in other words, the aim is to convert people to Christianity, not necessarily a denomination.

But is there a role for faith in modern life in any case? After all, society is about to commemorate the birth of Christianity with what in many cases will be week or so of materialism and over-indulgence.

The street preachers counter that the more materialistic society becomes, the greater the need to turn away from that materialism.

Mr Dible said: “Once the soul is saved it has peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

The church’s website is plymouthbrethrenchristianchurch.org

Comments (8)

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6:30pm Wed 21 Nov 12

Localboy86 says...

I thought swindin council banned streets traders lol. God bless
I thought swindin council banned streets traders lol. God bless Localboy86
  • Score: 0

8:56am Thu 22 Nov 12

The Real Librarian says...

These people do annoy me.

Not (just) because I am an atheist and not (just) because religion is a load of old nonsense. People are entitled to believe any old drivel they want. What annoys me about these people is that they are so **** loud. They shout! Its very annoying.

Religion should be a personal choice. Put a sign on your door by all means. Have a website if you want. Set up a little stall in town if you must, but stop shouting the odds all the time.
These people do annoy me. Not (just) because I am an atheist and not (just) because religion is a load of old nonsense. People are entitled to believe any old drivel they want. What annoys me about these people is that they are so **** loud. They shout! Its very annoying. Religion should be a personal choice. Put a sign on your door by all means. Have a website if you want. Set up a little stall in town if you must, but stop shouting the odds all the time. The Real Librarian
  • Score: 0

9:36am Thu 22 Nov 12

yeahsorryaboutthat says...

Well now I'm conflicted, should I base my understanding of the universe on peer reviewed science from the greatest minds on the planet; or on a bronze age middle eastern death cult as explained by a retired furniture salesman from Blunsdon?
Well now I'm conflicted, should I base my understanding of the universe on peer reviewed science from the greatest minds on the planet; or on a bronze age middle eastern death cult as explained by a retired furniture salesman from Blunsdon? yeahsorryaboutthat
  • Score: 0

2:41pm Thu 22 Nov 12

BruceHales says...

If you would be interested in the finer details of this group please visit www.peebs.net
They have been instrumental in the breaking up of many family's locally and worldwide and are promoting themselves to retain their charitable status which is being questioned by the Charities Commission
If you would be interested in the finer details of this group please visit www.peebs.net They have been instrumental in the breaking up of many family's locally and worldwide and are promoting themselves to retain their charitable status which is being questioned by the Charities Commission BruceHales
  • Score: 0

3:47pm Thu 22 Nov 12

Romans15_7 says...

This article, the interview and the actions of the street preachers is total deceit, very misleading and confusing to people who don’t know who they really are.

The name Plymouth Brethren Christian Church was only created on 8th Nov 2012, prior to that this group were known world wide as the “Exclusive Brethren”.

The have embarked on a campaign of deceitful PR to avoid losing their Charity status. They were notified of this fact in June 2012 by the Charity Commission

I bet they don’t preach what they really believe do they ?. Which is “separation from evil” which they practice by separating from any family, friends, relatives and even all other Christians not in “fellowship” in their church. They are not even allowed to “eat” with those outside of their group. If you leave the group you are “withdrawn from” or cut off, even if you leave to go to another church.

And I thought Christians were supposed to be honest !!

Their previous website which only came off line on 8th Nov 2012 can be viewed on this link –

http://web.archive.o
rg/web/2011071817142
9/http://www.theexcl
usivebrethren.com/

Swindon Advertiser, may I kindly suggest you do some more research on this divisive group.
This article, the interview and the actions of the street preachers is total deceit, very misleading and confusing to people who don’t know who they really are. The name Plymouth Brethren Christian Church was only created on 8th Nov 2012, prior to that this group were known world wide as the “Exclusive Brethren”. The have embarked on a campaign of deceitful PR to avoid losing their Charity status. They were notified of this fact in June 2012 by the Charity Commission I bet they don’t preach what they really believe do they ?. Which is “separation from evil” which they practice by separating from any family, friends, relatives and even all other Christians not in “fellowship” in their church. They are not even allowed to “eat” with those outside of their group. If you leave the group you are “withdrawn from” or cut off, even if you leave to go to another church. And I thought Christians were supposed to be honest !! Their previous website which only came off line on 8th Nov 2012 can be viewed on this link – http://web.archive.o rg/web/2011071817142 9/http://www.theexcl usivebrethren.com/ Swindon Advertiser, may I kindly suggest you do some more research on this divisive group. Romans15_7
  • Score: 0

3:50pm Thu 22 Nov 12

The Real Librarian says...

BruceHales wrote:
If you would be interested in the finer details of this group please visit www.peebs.net They have been instrumental in the breaking up of many family's locally and worldwide and are promoting themselves to retain their charitable status which is being questioned by the Charities Commission
I do worry about the Brethren.

Years ago I used to work for a small family window company that was owned by a family of Brethren.

They didn't listen to the radio or watch TV. No problem at home, you just don't own a TV or Radio. Slightly harder in the car.

When I was a lad the Radio / Tape player was an option you had to pay for but then they started being thrown in. The Brethren family members had to pay to have the radios removed. when they bought cars.

Nowadays, Radio / CD players are integral to the dashboard in most cars. I do wonder how they cope.
[quote][p][bold]BruceHales[/bold] wrote: If you would be interested in the finer details of this group please visit www.peebs.net They have been instrumental in the breaking up of many family's locally and worldwide and are promoting themselves to retain their charitable status which is being questioned by the Charities Commission[/p][/quote]I do worry about the Brethren. Years ago I used to work for a small family window company that was owned by a family of Brethren. They didn't listen to the radio or watch TV. No problem at home, you just don't own a TV or Radio. Slightly harder in the car. When I was a lad the Radio / Tape player was an option you had to pay for but then they started being thrown in. The Brethren family members had to pay to have the radios removed. when they bought cars. Nowadays, Radio / CD players are integral to the dashboard in most cars. I do wonder how they cope. The Real Librarian
  • Score: 0

4:23pm Thu 22 Nov 12

Davey Gravey says...

Nutters
Nutters Davey Gravey
  • Score: 0

9:08pm Thu 22 Nov 12

Romans15_7 says...

As a further update to my above post, you maybe interested to read the following speech from Baroness Berridge made in the UK House of Lords today 22nd Nov 2012.

Baroness Berridge calls for Church Enquiry into Christian Sect

Start of Speech

The role of religion in society is recognised in our charity law but this has become contentious in the case of Preston Down Trust. Is this the thin end of the wedge for the charitable status of churches?

No I would say due to a curious comment in the decision letter from the Charity Commission which says “the question will turn on the doctrines of this religious persuasion” which also explains why none of the main denominations are concerned.

This religious persuasion are the Exclusive Brethren who sit under the universal leadership of Bruce Hales in Australia. In August they incorporated as the Plymouth Brethren (Exclusive Brethren) Christian Church Limited. I have family in the Hales Exclusive Brethren. They are not the open brethren who are churches or other closed brethren groups.

The Hales Exclusive Brethren hold to the doctrine of separation, so exclusives cannot live in semi detached houses as this has a party wall with non brethren, cannot eat with non brethren, cannot have friends who are non brethren, cannot join membership groups like trade unions, or the AA. No TV, radio, cafes etc. Attendance in brethren schools only now and work for brethren business. Attending university is banned.

Is it not contradictory to give gift aid to charities to encourage young people into university and also to groups whose beliefs prohibit that choice for their young people.

This is a very controlled environment to live and grow up in, and unsurprisingly the preliminary findings of Andrew Mayer’s from Bournemouth University and Jill Mytton are that mental health outcomes are poor. I await with eager interest their full report.

I spoke to a man last night, who told me of someone currently in the Exclusive Brethren,

“ Unfortunately the man had been to a pub and been spotted by Brethren brother. He was shut up, for a few months now, so to keep the assembly pure nobody from the brethren can live with him, so the wife and family were moved out by the leadership and they have stopped doing business with him.”

The man had left but his parents are still in. The only contact is a five minute conversation and he said they will not even have a cup of tea with me. He told me My Lords “I miss my parents so much.” But what about his children, that was the position I grew up in, cut off from your only living grandparent living 8 miles away because I was not Exclusive Brethren.

This is why the Former Australian PM, Kevin Rudd, once said

“I believe this is an extremist cult and sect, I also believe that it breaks up families”

“If this is Christianity it is not as we have known it before.”

So I thoroughly congratulate the Charity Commission for seeking to deal with this Christian sect but many who would give evidence fear for the implications for family still in. The Charity Commission must ensure that victims can give evidence and tell their story anonymously.

Groups where there is credible evidence that they harm health, split families and send no one to university can exist in a liberal society but should they be charities, I doubt.

Religion and public benefit need clarity but we also need clarity on the outer limits on what is acceptable charitable behaviour of religious groups.

But the Exclusive Brethren is a matter for the church collectively and I believe there needs to be a church led enquiry into the Exclusive Brethren, this Christian sect, a theological and psychological enquiry. Perhaps chaired by a former Archbishop. It is not a noble or honest response to seek to deal with fudgy law but turn a blind eye to these victims. The Exclusive Brethren maintain these assertions are without foundation so they should welcome such an enquiry.

Victims can be hard to find, but I hope many ex-Exclusive Brethren will hear this debate so please check my website as I will host an event in parliament early next year for ex-Exclusive Brethren so parliamentarians can hear their stories. Parliament is open to all and you do not have to have the riches of the Exclusive Brethren for your voice to be heard.

My apologies to the noble Lord Singh not to have a celebratory type speech but I cannot get out of my mind that a young person might be listening to our debate, in a brethren school who might want to go to university and it is important that we say this is not wrong.

End of Speech

To watch the speech on Parliament TV visit: http://www.parliamen
tlive.tv/Main/Player
.aspx?meetingId=1176
3

Full article: http://baronessberri
dge.com

May I suggest the Newspaper runs an article on this speech to explain to the people of Swindon who it really is who is active on the streets of Swindon
As a further update to my above post, you maybe interested to read the following speech from Baroness Berridge made in the UK House of Lords today 22nd Nov 2012. Baroness Berridge calls for Church Enquiry into Christian Sect Start of Speech The role of religion in society is recognised in our charity law but this has become contentious in the case of Preston Down Trust. Is this the thin end of the wedge for the charitable status of churches? No I would say due to a curious comment in the decision letter from the Charity Commission which says “the question will turn on the doctrines of this religious persuasion” which also explains why none of the main denominations are concerned. This religious persuasion are the Exclusive Brethren who sit under the universal leadership of Bruce Hales in Australia. In August they incorporated as the Plymouth Brethren (Exclusive Brethren) Christian Church Limited. I have family in the Hales Exclusive Brethren. They are not the open brethren who are churches or other closed brethren groups. The Hales Exclusive Brethren hold to the doctrine of separation, so exclusives cannot live in semi detached houses as this has a party wall with non brethren, cannot eat with non brethren, cannot have friends who are non brethren, cannot join membership groups like trade unions, or the AA. No TV, radio, cafes etc. Attendance in brethren schools only now and work for brethren business. Attending university is banned. Is it not contradictory to give gift aid to charities to encourage young people into university and also to groups whose beliefs prohibit that choice for their young people. This is a very controlled environment to live and grow up in, and unsurprisingly the preliminary findings of Andrew Mayer’s from Bournemouth University and Jill Mytton are that mental health outcomes are poor. I await with eager interest their full report. I spoke to a man last night, who told me of someone currently in the Exclusive Brethren, “ Unfortunately the man had been to a pub and been spotted by Brethren brother. He was shut up, for a few months now, so to keep the assembly pure nobody from the brethren can live with him, so the wife and family were moved out by the leadership and they have stopped doing business with him.” The man had left but his parents are still in. The only contact is a five minute conversation and he said they will not even have a cup of tea with me. He told me My Lords “I miss my parents so much.” But what about his children, that was the position I grew up in, cut off from your only living grandparent living 8 miles away because I was not Exclusive Brethren. This is why the Former Australian PM, Kevin Rudd, once said “I believe this is an extremist cult and sect, I also believe that it breaks up families” “If this is Christianity it is not as we have known it before.” So I thoroughly congratulate the Charity Commission for seeking to deal with this Christian sect but many who would give evidence fear for the implications for family still in. The Charity Commission must ensure that victims can give evidence and tell their story anonymously. Groups where there is credible evidence that they harm health, split families and send no one to university can exist in a liberal society but should they be charities, I doubt. Religion and public benefit need clarity but we also need clarity on the outer limits on what is acceptable charitable behaviour of religious groups. But the Exclusive Brethren is a matter for the church collectively and I believe there needs to be a church led enquiry into the Exclusive Brethren, this Christian sect, a theological and psychological enquiry. Perhaps chaired by a former Archbishop. It is not a noble or honest response to seek to deal with fudgy law but turn a blind eye to these victims. The Exclusive Brethren maintain these assertions are without foundation so they should welcome such an enquiry. Victims can be hard to find, but I hope many ex-Exclusive Brethren will hear this debate so please check my website as I will host an event in parliament early next year for ex-Exclusive Brethren so parliamentarians can hear their stories. Parliament is open to all and you do not have to have the riches of the Exclusive Brethren for your voice to be heard. My apologies to the noble Lord Singh not to have a celebratory type speech but I cannot get out of my mind that a young person might be listening to our debate, in a brethren school who might want to go to university and it is important that we say this is not wrong. End of Speech To watch the speech on Parliament TV visit: http://www.parliamen tlive.tv/Main/Player .aspx?meetingId=1176 3 Full article: http://baronessberri dge.com May I suggest the Newspaper runs an article on this speech to explain to the people of Swindon who it really is who is active on the streets of Swindon Romans15_7
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