Sister Stories - Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Sister Stories

This podcast encourages us to reflect on how the Lord has grown and moulded us into becoming more like Christ.

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S1 - 11. Anne W.

In this episode, I am interviewing Anne, who is married to Cornerstone Church’s pastor, Pete, and works as a proofreader for the Good Book Company. Listen in to hear about her walk with Christ and be encouraged to continue to fix our eyes on the hope that we have.

Transcript (Auto-generated)

Welcome everyone to the sister stories podcast.

This podcast is aimed at marveling.

I've got sovereignty each of our lives as women.

As encouraging 1 another via our stories.

My name is Sophie, and today I'm joined by Anne.

Hello? Hi, Anne.

Thank you for joining us.

So, first of all, can you tell us a little bit about who you are? Yes.

So, I'm Ann.

I am nearly 60.

Big birthday next year.


Just putting it out there.

I have been at Cornerstone Church or the church that has developed into Cornerstone Church, almost since it started.

So my husband, Pete, is the senior pastor here, although he wasn't at the beginning, but he became at the he came at the beginning of the church.

And I came with our daughter, Jerusalem a year later, from the church, where we had been previously.

I have been a Christian for probably about 45 years.

And I now work part time as a proof reader at the Good Book company, which is a local Christian publishing company.


Thank you.

So, obviously, we're going to be talking about your journey to faith in Christ.

So starting off with your family background, could you tell us bit about that, what it was like, growing up with your family.



So I grew up in a Christian family.

And, actually, my my Christian family goes back to my great grandfather who was converted, I think, out of a a completely non christian non church attending family as far as I know.

And, who became, a a real passionate follower of Jesus and went into ministry.

I've I've found out a little bit recently about him, and it's really interesting because he started out as an evangelist.

In the Windsor area, which of course is where Pete grew up, and Pete started his ministry as an evangelist.

He went on to minister in a Baptist church in Ashford in Middlesex.


And that's where, my nephew and niece Chris and Sarah Tilly grew up.

And, he then ended up, and had a very fruitful ministry at a church in Twickenham, which is actually where Bernadette Chris's wife comes from.

So it's just really fascinating.

There's all these links you know, sort of about 100 years later, I I just wonder what it would be like for him, to know that 4 generations on, you know, the places where he ministered, have been associated with people in his family who are still Christians.

So he had a huge influence on the family.

They had about 10 children.

Many, all of them except 1 were believers.

And a number of them went into ministry, including my grandfather.

My grandfather was the pastor of a small church in ham, which is between Kingston and Richmond.

So you can see I'm I'm very local.


And, He wasn't a full time pastor because it was a very small church.

He worked as a bank manager, but, he pastored the church And that's the church that I grew up in with my grandmother and my great aunt and my uncle and my aunt.

And so, it was a very family centered to church for us.

In fact, our family probably constituted about half the church I and my 2 sisters were the only children that were attending the services, although there was a lot of children who came in for the Sunday school.

And, yes, what what you have to understand is that through the 20th century, the culture was changing.

People were giving up going to church, giving up reading the bible, and, Christians started to feel very besieged.

And many churches became like the church at ham.

They became quite small quite close knit, rather separated from the modern culture.

And that was certainly true of my family.

So it was a traditional church, which meant that when we attended the service, girls wore hats, girls didn't wear jeans or trousers.

We didn't go to the cinema, as my grandmother used to say, it's the cinema.

Which always makes feet laugh.

And even little things like the cards we played with, we were allowed to play with playing cards that have pictures on them, but not the classic deck of cards that is used for gambling.

Yeah? So it was very sort of, you know, the way we lived was very separatist.

And then on top of that, we were involved in so many things on Sunday.

We lived at Walton on Thames, which was over half an hour's drive away, that we we would go to the church for Sunday morning service, and then there was an afternoon Sunday school, and then there were old people's homes services, and then there was an evening service, and there was no time to go back home.


So we camped out all day in the back of this rather inadequate church building.


And that was our Sunday.

That's that's really amazing that from the beginning, you were very influenced by by probably hearing hearing the gospel, like, she quite early on, what's where your perceptions of, where I was like to come to church, was it was it just something you had to do, or did you actually enjoy it? And benefits from it.

But it's sort of both, I suppose.

Again, we knew we had to come you're right.

We we learned about the Bible from a a a very young age.

We learned the gospel about Jesus.

There were parts of it that I enjoyed.

I I really loved my uncle, and he was very gifted in his relationships with people.

And he ran the Sunday school.

You know, I liked being with my family.

It was the life I knew and children are quite accepting of the life they know.

And I I know that I've been very privileged because I know that people have been praying for me all my life.

Probably going back to my great grandfather, actually.

I know that, I've I've never been ignorant of the good news of Jesus, And I've never doubted it, actually.

I've never doubted the truth of it, and they were sincere believing, Bible believing Christians.

I know that, but the way it sort of landed in my life was it it it it felt like, a subculture that you had to follow these rules that was very different from the way that all my friends lived.

And that was the thing that I found difficult.

And, as a young child, it wasn't so much of a problem, but as I grew older, that became the really pressing issue for me.


And that was difficult.


So can you tell us a little bit about that change, in your life when you started to perceive that people were doing things differently from you and when that became more problematic for you? Yeah.

So so it was round about, the end of middle school.

So where we lived in Walton and Hirsch and We had the middle school system, which, meant that you went to secondary school at the age of around about 12 or 13.

It was around about that time that it became more difficult.

So, my very tight knit group of friends, 6 girls.

Suddenly, when we went to secondary school started to change, they became interested in boys.

Talking to boys, which was a thing that I had no idea how to start doing they started going out.

They they got into fashion.

They got into pop music.

They went to see films.

They watched things on TV that I never saw.

We did watch TV, but we only watched BBC, and they watched the other channels.

And, and, you know, I didn't they bought soap operas, and I didn't know what was going on in the soap operas.

And so it became more and more difficult.

I I became very quiet about what I did on Sunday.

And then I just became very quiet.

Because I didn't know how to join in these conversations.

And so in the end, I just stopped talking.

And I followed them around, and they they kind of allowed me to do that, which is strange, but, you know, I've been around with them for so long, I suppose.

I I do remember sometimes they would sort of turn around and say, why don't you ever talk to us and Why are you still following us around? Just occasionally, but mostly they just accepted me, but I I would say probably for about 3 years, I said hardly anything at school unless a teacher spoke to me, and then I then I would answer them.

But I I couldn't offer any conversation, any contribution to my friends.

I was just there.

I don't know if you've ever seen, Gregory's girl, I have a brilliant film.


Well, that's a bunch of boys who are friends, and there's a silent kid in that film.

In fact, I think he speaks for the first time.

Right at the very end of the film.

And when I see that kid, I I see myself.


I see.



How did that how did you feel about that? Cause that must be I mean, I had moments in school not exactly the same, but felt that felt a little bit similar to that.

But, I wonder how how they made you feel I felt, I just didn't know what to do about it.

I never told anybody about it.

I never told my parents about it.

I mean, that was oddly, although I, you know, although we were Christians, and we believed in the gospel, we didn't know how to talk about our feelings in our family.

I'll I'll tell you this story, which I don't often tell, but, this was something that happened right at the end of middle school.

In fact, it might have set the tone for this period of 3 years, which was that my friends, wanted to do a dance club.

They wanted to do a kind of dance drama.

And because we always did everything together, I said, yes, I would join it as well because I I couldn't imagine not doing something that my friends were doing.

But I was kind of already uncomfortable with it because it was dancing.

And as you can imagine, dancing was probably on the list of no no's.

Anyway, we we did 1 performance and it went really well.

I can't remember what it was about.

Teddy best picnics, something like that.

I don't know.

And then they really begged to be able to do another performance.

And so the drama teacher said, why don't we do something for Easter? And, she then said, why don't we do the Easter story, the story of Jesus? And his trial.

And then you you know, I was really starting to panic because I thought, This this is not going to go down well at home.


But I I couldn't say anything to my friends.

I couldn't say anything to the teacher.

And I couldn't say anything at home, so I just carried on going to these dance rehearsals, and then she cast us in the different roles.

And I was the tallest at that time, because I was pretty much at 12, the height that I am now.

So I was sort of towering above everybody else.

And she said, Anne, you're the tallest.

You need to be Jesus.

So you can imagine what that felt like.


So I just carried on.

I thought, I don't know what's gonna happen.

But I I didn't tell my friends.

I didn't tell my family.

I didn't tell the teacher.

My mom did ask me once about it, what is this dance performance you're gonna be doing? And I just said, Oh, it's a secret because I didn't know how to explain to her.

And, We came to the performance.

They invited the whole family.

My grandparents were there.

My my great aunt was there.

And I did this dance performance, you know? And I thought, what is gonna happen afterwards? I had no idea.

And afterwards, nobody said anything.

And I went home and I thought, surely they're going to say to me, what did you think you were doing? And nobody said anything.

And in fact, nobody ever said anything.


You know, that kind of made it worse for me.

So I spent years years feeling utterly guilty about that.

But I think you can see from that that I just didn't feel that I could talk to my family about the fact that I couldn't talk to anyone, you know? So it actually paralyzed me from talking to my family as well as to my friends.

I don't know whether it was some kind of depression or I don't know or anxiety thing.

I don't know what they would call it now.

I'm sure somebody knows it for it now.

You know, but nobody noticed in those days.

So I just I just tuck it out, really.


That's really interesting.

I wonder what brought you out of that period of time where there was some connection with your friends that was somehow renewed or, or with your family even or or something else.

I think the thing that brought it out was probably I mean, there were a few things, but the main thing was that things fell apart at the church in ham.

My grandfather had died, and then it was down to my father and my un call, and there was an another family.

And I I I nobody's ever told me what happened, but there was some kind of rift.

And I think my family just felt that they travel, from Waltmont, Thames, and Hampton all the way to Ham every Sunday.

And, this church just wasn't working, and it was time to call it a day and move to another church.

So, we started looking for another church, And, my parents decided, why don't we try Hook Evangelical church in Sherbiton? So we went there.

We walked in on a Sunday morning, 3 girls wearing brimmed hat You know? It was all very conspicuous.

Everybody noticed us because nobody else was wearing hats, of course.

Hook was a much more normal church than we were.

And afterwards, the the the young people, especially some of the boys, were really quite interested to come and chat to us.

And they were really lovely bunch of kids, actually.

They they were just nice, you know? And really interested in us.

And, when we got home, I and my sister, this is so uncharacteristic but we went into my mom and dad.

And we said, we don't want to go to any other church.

We want to go to this church.

And, my mum knew that it was because we'd met other young people.

Oh, that's great.

We'd go to church, which was the first for us.

And she persuaded my dad, I think that we should go to this church.

And so we started going to Hook Church, and, I think I had already become a Christian because I had reached the point.

I always knew that there is no hope in the face of death without the good news of Jesus.

I'd always known that.

And I think, it was perhaps in the year before we left ham that I become a Christian.

I remember I told my dad after weeks of agonizing about it because we're we were the family that never talked about anything.

I said to him 1 evening as we were driving home, I think I'm a Chris What did you say to that? And he was I noticed that he was pleased.


Oh, that's sweet.

And he said, well, that's that's That's great, you know, and, keep going.

He didn't really know what to say, but he was I could see he was pleased about it, and that was a big encouragement.

So I think I have become a Christian, but when we went to this church with these other young people and the there at the time Brian Edwards used to gather the young people quite often on a Sunday evening after the service at his house, and he would say, does anybody have a question? And you could ask any question you wanted about a Bible passage, about lifestyle, about something that was going on in the news.

Anything you wanted, you could ask.

And he would then say, how are we going to answer this question from the Bible? And he would get us all suggesting verses and passages and things, and he would guide us through all of that until we come up with an answer from the Bible, which was brilliant because it taught me that the Bible has something to say about anything in life Yeah.

And it gave me this great confidence in the Bible, and I felt my questions were taken seriously, and I I I asked a lot of questions there.

If if nobody else had a question, I always had 1.

And I was interacting with other people my my own age, and it just took off from there.

And then at school, I moved into 6 form, and the 6 form of that school was very small, It was a completely different atmosphere.

You know, we felt like a little a little family in in our 6 form common room, the teachers treated us differently.

And again, that just really helped me.

And so I sort of came out of that weird time of not speaking to anyone.



That's amazing.

And I think it's again a great testament to the church and how nurturing it can be of of young people and and people in general of of bringing people together and actually finding that friendship with other young people there.

It's really amazing.

It's just a revolution in my life.

It was amazing.


Oh, that's great.

So, you touched a little bit about becoming a Christian.

And so around 15, right, wasn't it? So Yeah.


Probably near a 16.


I think it was probably 16.


Yeah, I mean, the whole process of becoming a Christian was, agonizing.

I think it was first kicked off when I was about 12, I, a preacher who it was a visiting preacher who came to the church at ham, Yeah.

And, afterwards, he he just sort of sidled up to me afterwards when we were all chatting at the back and he said, Are you a Christian? And, I was quite cross about this.

Nobody asked me those sorts of questions, you know.

I felt really sort of put on the spot I just knew I couldn't say yes because I knew I wasn't.

So I said no.

And he said, oh, because I I saw you singing, and I I just didn't know if you were or not.

That's all he said.

And then he disappeared out of my life, and I can't even remember what his name was, you know, but it really unsettled me.


And, I think when I finally spoke to my dad, I'd spent a few months before that every sort of Sunday evening, praying to be a Christian, and then spending the following week trying to be a Christian, you know, feeling that I've failed, and then the following Sunday doing it all over again, praying to Jesus to save me again this time properly.

And that's why it took me so long to tell my dad because, I felt once I told my dad, I was locked in to to being and and don't forget I hadn't actually moved to hook church.


Of course.

So I felt I was locked into the kind of life that I'd grown up within my family, so that that was a bit of a battle.





So, obviously, you you have stayed in the King scenario amazingly, which is great.

But you meant Pete's.

I wonder how that happens.

So Right.

It's not that interesting, really.

In in that, I well, I went away to Canterbury to university, so I was away for 3 years.

Moved back home because I got a job in London.

And, I I became a youth leader at Cook evangelical church.

And we had an assistant pastor who then moved on.

And Brian Edwards, the minister, decided, he would like instead of getting another assistant pastor, he thought he he wanted to kind of revive the old the new testament gift of evangelist And so he said, you know, he he said to the church and and the elders kind of agreed, why don't we get a an evangelist? Find someone who can be an evangelist.

And Pete at that time was working with a a a group of evangelists that we'd use in various missions and things that we'd done.

He was kind of like their trainee.

And, In fact, he came and stood in for 1 of the the the the other evangelists, the main evangelists, when they came to do something at our church.

And so that's where Brian met Pete.

And it the timing was all, you know, just perfect.

And, he he asked Pete if he would like to be an evangelist at Hook Evangelical Church, which meant that Pete, he took, over he took on overall leadership of the youth group, but he wasn't always around because he was traveling about doing missions at other churches and even at universities and and all that kind of thing.

So he traveled around a lot.

But because I was also a youth leader there, we probably, you know, we're sort of thrown together, a bit for about probably, yeah, I would imagine a year, and then we started going out.



And the rest is history.




So, I feel like we've really explored a lot about your background and everything, but, more recently, especially in the last couple of years and with COVID and and all the disruptions we've had.

I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about, what the lord has shown you in this time what he has learned, through this time? Well, of course, yes.

I mean, it's been such an interesting time, really, and completely unforeseen.

I I just remember back in very early 2020, I heard a guy on the radio saying in the in future years, we're going to talk about before coronavirus and after coronavirus.

And I actually said to Pete, what is he talking about? You know? And of course, he was absolutely right.

You know, I think we will sort of see this as a kind of a watershed.


So I I guess the the really big things is there's a couple of them, but, 1 I suppose is just the preciousness of, the church of Jesus Christ, which is people, you know, which is a family, as as we're always saying here at Cornerstone, and it's absolutely true.

Just just the preciousness of being able to meet together to be free, to worship our savior, to remind ourselves of the good news, to share bread and wine, to sing, to see the children, to watch people serving 1 another, to see people comforting 1 another, all of that just suddenly disappeared, you know? And, of course, you know, the church leaders worked so hard to help us feel that we were still part of a family, you know, all those mad, do you remember the home group challenges that we did.

You know? We never took part in these challenges in my home group, sadly.

I wish we had, but we did the plank challenge Yeah.

The plank challenge, the acts of kindness, all of those things are just really designed to to help us remember that we're part of a family.

And even although we couldn't see each other physically, you know, to keep on praying for 1 another and, you know, and then the joy of being able to stand together in a freezing cold church and not sing, but clap.

I don't know if you remember clapping in the face.


Because we couldn't sing it very quietly.

Then it was seen quietly behind your mask.


And, it was really moving, you know, and the reason it was moving is because we hadn't been able to do it.

And so I I I wanna feel that I will never take that for granted again.

And I'll never complain about being on rotors and having to go out again on a Sunday evening and, you know? Yeah.

I mean, I don't know.

Probably I will fall into those things again, because that's what happens with humans, but, you know, it's really taught me about the church family.

Another thing that has really taught me is about indwelling selfishness and self righteousness.

Just my natural reaction about having to wear face coverings grumpy.

Seeing people who don't wear face coverings, self righteous, seeing those cardboard things that they put around every lamppost that tells you about you know, 2 meter distancing and washing your hands and all the rest of it.

Seeing those those guys behind their podiums every night at 5 o'clock doing a briefing, you know, and how irritating it became, and how easily I became grumpy about things.

And actually, it's not really suffering because, you know, there are people in the world who don't have enough to eat, can't get clean water, can't get medical things, live in war zones, are persecuted for their faith, you know, people who are so desperate to leave their country that they would rather, you know, be sold, cross Continents in refrigerated trucks or cross the channel on dingis that are, you know, gonna sync mid channel.

You know, we There was I was not suffering, you know, but I was grumpy, and I thought, oh gosh, that's so interesting.

You know, the old nature rises up even with the slightest little restrictions and inconveniences.

So, yeah, that that I really sort of clearly saw that.

And then the third thing, I think was, that I I never feared getting COVID.

I always trusted in God's sovereignty, and that was such a great comfort.

And in fact, You know, it was really interesting to look at the world around and, you know, see that people suffer so terribly when they don't have that kind of anchor.


You know, we your your this podcast is about god's sovereignty, isn't it? Marbling at god's sovereignty.

And, we we Christians just have This wonderful privilege of knowing that everything that happens to us happens under the control of someone who loves us more than we can imagine we are loved.


That's amazing.

That's really helpful.

To remember to remember that, actually, as you said, in in that context of everything changing and and actually, I think we all felt grumpy at some point or other about something.

People on the bus are wearing the masks anymore, for example.


That's very easy to do isn't it.

But, yeah, I think that's really interesting to to remember that.

To finish with, if there was any advice you would like to give to perhaps younger Christians, what what would you say to them? Probably along the same lines, I would guess, but I would say remember where you are heading.

This life is going to end and who is going to help you at the end.

And and life goes so quickly.

I mean, next year is my 60th birthday.

I'm way over halfway through my life.

I can't believe I'm at this point in my life.

You know? A cup a couple of eye blinks, and I'll be where my mother-in-law was this year.

You know, which was at the end of her life.

And, it is insanity to live and not think about that.


And Jesus has words of eternal life.

There is no 1 else that we can go to, for eternal life, for resurrection, for reconciliation with god, for forgiveness from from all our sins.

And, however hard that path is, you know, it's only gonna get better.

You know? If you're not on that path following Jesus, things are only going to get worse.

But if you are following Jesus, however hard things are now, the future is the brightest and the best.


Thank you so much and for, reminding us of these truths and and for sharing your story with us.

That's all for this episode of sister stories, everyone.

Join us again next week.


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