I have lived in Ramsbottom all my life apart from a four year spell in Anglesey Wales. As I was growing up I was given clear examples both at church and at home that this God who was preached to me was real. I spent the early part of my life doing my best to ignore it; I hated going to church and remember saying to my sister “if this is what heaven is like I don’t want to go!”
As I looked about in creation I knew deep down that there had to be a God, since evolution was not a believable option. At home I saw so many evidences of a living relationship and also a faith that truly worked itself out in front of my eyes. I tried to turn my back on Him but the evidence was getting greater and greater.
In the end, two things dramatically changed the course of my life. Firstly, a brother in law that had previously laughed at and ridiculed the very faith I had been shown now dramatically broke down in tears and professed the same faith himself. Secondly I had always believed in God but the next challenge was this question: “Is there a Hell?” I knew that I was not only guilty in the depths of my heart but also that I had rejected the only one who could help me for many years.
Finally, in 1975 at the age of 14 I knelt down by my bed at 22 Tanners Street, Ramsbottom and in tears accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.
How much space would I need to tell of His forgiveness, love, mercy and compassion toward me throughout my life? He has helped and sustained me through cancer and through twenty seven years in the police service. In essence it’s what is written above the pulpit in our church building: it’s all to do with His grace towards me, which means His unmerited favour in not only saving me but keeping me all these years.
I currently serve as a deacon in the church which is both a pleasure and a privilege as I serve amongst my family, which is God’s family. I just want to help, care for, visit, encourage and draw alongside those I regard as my brothers and sisters in God’s house. My heart’s desire is to serve and encourage His people, striving to live a life that is effective for my Lord and Saviour.
I grew up as the youngest of six, and although we enjoyed many blessings as a family my childhood was rather troubled, especially after my 17-year-old brother was killed on a motorbike when I was only 10. I knew the message of the gospel, but I had no peace because my heart was not right with God. However, when I reached the age of 17 myself, God showed me mercy and gave me a new heart – I was re-born as a child of God knowing forgiveness of sins and peace with Him.
The following year I went to Cambridge University to read history, majoring in the Reformation period. In these years I learned how to study the Bible, how to exegete it faithfully and how to present the gospel message to others. I began preaching in the year of my conversion at summer camps and YP meetings, and the Lord continued to give me many opportunities to proclaim the gospel.
After University, I began working in industry as part of a family engineering company that has been continually trading in Macclesfield since 1810. In 1995 I married Alison, and after some years of preparation, we were called to the pastorate here in Ramsbottom in 1998. God has blessed us with six children, and we have made Ramsbottom our home, even though I continue to travel to Macclesfield to oversee the business. During our time of service here we have rejoiced to see the church grow in numbers, but also in the grace and knowledge of Christ and His word. God has established a Biblical leadership team here and the membership are united in our desire to reach out to our community and our world with the precious gospel of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. We were especially encouraged in 2011 when the church adopted the 1689 London Baptist Confession as our statement of faith. May the Lord give us grace and strength to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Judev3).
I was born in 1951 at Queens Park Hospital in Blackburn. I was the only child of John and Betty Blezard of Haslingden. We later moved to Accrington when I was 10 years old. I attended a Sunday school at Cannon Street Baptist Church in Accrington, but as I grew older I decided that church wasn’t a place that I wanted to go to. For most of my teenage years I played bass guitar in a music group called “The Soundcasters”, playing gigs throughout the Northwest until we split up in 1968 after a failed recording contract.
I left school with few qualifications, had a variety of jobs, and finally settled in the family lighting business. But my heart’s desire was to live for myself and experience as much pleasure and sinful living as I could.
In 1974 I met my future wife Louise at the Victoria Hotel in Accrington where she was working as a part-time barmaid. Amazingly the relationship blossomed and we married in 1975. Louise was originally from Ramsbottom and her parents were committed Christians and attended a church there. They used to share their faith with me, but I had no time for religion or God, and I remember becoming angry when Louise commented that one day she might return to church and the faith that she once followed.
BUT GOD IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL TO SINFUL MEN AND WOMEN.
A year after our marriage whilst driving in the car, a song on the radio caused me to ask Louise, “What do you think happens to us when we die? Do we all go to Heaven?” “No, I am afraid that you won’t” was the reply: “God is holy and he can’t accept you because you are a sinner.” What a bolt from the blue – it completely knocked me out!
Louise went on to speak of me needing a saviour – one who could set me free from the curse of my sin AND THAT PERSON WAS JESUS. But I would have to stop living for myself, turn from my sins and commit my life to Him. The cost seemed so high – I tried to resist, but God was dealing with me. After a week of struggle, being unable to eat or sleep properly, I was a broken man. Blessed relief came when I knelt down in my kitchen and gave my life to Jesus Christ, asking Him to be my Lord and Saviour. He came into my life by His Spirit and has never left me since that day.
Louise and I started to attend the church in Ramsbottom (then meeting in a member’s home). We have had the privilege of serving the Lord for many years, enjoying fellowship and receiving faithful biblical teaching which has established us in the faith. It has been a joy to see the church grow and become established in the centre of Ramsbottom.
The Lord has blessed us with four children and I can testify that I have experienced His love, care and faithfulness in all of life’s circumstances. One of my favourite verses is Deuteronomy 33:27, THE ETERNAL GOD IS YOUR REFUGE AND UNDERNEATH ARE THE EVERLASTING ARMS. I believe those arms will take me (an unworthy sinner) safe to heaven.
I have served on the church leadership team ever since I was appointed as a deacon in the late 1970s and then as an elder from the early 1980s. When I was younger I taught in the Sunday School and was involved in Young People’s ministry; I was also part of “Revelation”, a music group with an evangelistic ministry, especially in several local prisons. I am also a member of the Preachers Group ministering both at TGCR and other churches in the region. Since 2010 I have served as church treasurer. I am reminded daily that without Jesus I can do nothing!
I grew up in Scotland, and was brought up in a loving Christian home, which I now count as a real blessing. I was very rebellious as an adolescent, which brought with it untold consequences, but God was very merciful to me and I came to a saving knowledge of Him in my early twenties.
I started my working life as an apprentice litho printer, completed a four years City & Guild course at Glasgow College of Printing, and then moved to Bury where I had applied for a new position.
I settled in to my new surroundings very quickly, despite not knowing anyone in the area.
I knew I had to find a good place to worship with God’s people, and was led to this church here in the heart of Ramsbottom, where I soon became a member under Pastor Ray Gregory, realising that God had directed me to be part of His work here.
In September 1981 I was married to Sue, who has been a great help and support to me over the years, and I thank God for her. We have two children (now adults), two grandchildren and another due later this year; we praise God for his many blessings.
The number of folks who attend Trinity Grace Church has continued to grow over the years through faithful gospel preaching, and there is a warmth and love for God’s people and His truth. I count it a real privilege to serve the Lord among His people here as a deacon, and it is a great joy to take the wonderful news of salvation out to the men and women of our town.
I grew up in the South of England, and attended Church from the age of 8. Soon after turning 18, and the day before going to Loughborough University, I was converted through reading John Blanchard’s book, “Right with God”. After university I trained as an accountant for 3 years, leaving to train for ministry at the London Theological Seminary. Having married my wife Maggie in 1994, I served for 6 years as pastor of a small church in the beautiful village of Ribchester, Lancashire. This was a difficult work, with few resources and a deep rooted opposition in the village to the church. Our Son Matthew was born during this time.
After spending a couple of years working in a Christian bookshop, I returned to ministry in Machen, South wales. I served for 8 years in the Evangelical Baptist Church in the village. It was a blessing to see a number of folk baptised, and the church grow in my time there. Sadly, however, due to various difficulties, I had to move on from this work. Thus, I have been serving Trinity Grace Church as second full-time elder since 2010, and apart from preaching I have particular responsibility for school’s work and visiting the elderly. It is a blessing to be in a Church, where there is a solid biblical foundation in terms of doctrine and practice. Furthermore, it is an enormous blessing to serve in a biblical eldership, where we can support and encourage one another, as well as utilise our varying gifts.
I have lived in Ramsbottom since I was eleven years old. My parents were religious and what they taught me I naturally believed until a close friend began to speak to me about the gospel. I attended a series of gospel meetings that were held in the church, they challenged my view of God, the bible and especially Jesus Christ. I had always believed that Jesus was just a good man living and dying to show us a better way to live, but actually He was God’s Son sent by God the Father to live and die as a ransom for my sins.
This is the message of the gospel that challenged me at those meetings, and after a time through the grace of God I started to understand and more importantly believe that Jesus Christ had died for me personally. The forgiveness I have now was a result of his sacrifice upon the cross.
I joined the church and straight away wanted to be involved in serving God in any way possible. I spent many hours helping with building work in the church, became involved with youth work, gospel ministry and some preaching.
In 1986 I married my wife Yvonne; God has blessed us with two grown up children and we continue to serve God in the church.
At present I am part of the eldership team. It is a blessing to belong to a church that has a solid biblical foundation, a concern for the community and a desire to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.
The late seventies / early eighties saw a prodigious change in my life: from trying to be accepted as ‘one of the lads’ in a culture of excessive drinking, nightlife, dreaming of fast cars and one day being in a progressive rock band, to being culturally unacceptable, not swearing, not drinking and regularly going to church; those late teenage years saw the beginnings of a path that only forgiveness of sin and being accepted as a child of God can be responsible for.
I did not do especially well at school and for the first dozen years of my working life I was a weaver in a local mill. Since then I have worked in different situations and now enjoy my present part time post in retail sales.
Knowing the joy of sins forgiven, the presence of one who promises never to leave me nor forsake me, and the assurance of an eternal home in heaven is the greatest fulfilment of my life. For over twenty years it has been my privilege to serve the Lord, initially as deacon and now in these latter years as part of the eldership team. It has been our joy to see the lives of many transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s growing work of grace in all of our lives.
I’m thankful that for two days a week I’ve been given the opportunity to conduct a visitation program for members of the church and the wider community. I am also able to organise outreach events that local people can participate in without feeling uncomfortable or awkward. Community matters greatly to us, so taking the initiative to meet new people, demonstrating a genuine friendliness and concern and being able to share the message of the Bible in a meaningful, honest and relevant way is something we care passionately about. Included in our community program is care home visitation, family fun days, children’s activities, schools ministry and coffee mornings.
My dear wife Liz has been of tremendous support to me through some of life’s most difficult challenges, and we are grateful we can celebrate over thirty years of being happily married. We have two grown children for whom we are so thankful and we love them dearly. We value family greatly and are thankful we can share many happy and meaningful times together.
Pastor Oliver-Allmand Smith’s induction Service
Oliver Allmand-Smith begins his pastoral ministry at Trinity Grace Church, formally known as Ramsbottom Evangelical Church in 1988. He took over from Pastor Raymond Gregory who began his ministry in Ramsbottom in 1955. God certainly knows how to keep His Church.
Note: For those of you on apple devices, you may have to view the video directly on our Trinity Grace Youtube channel.
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Supporting Church Leaders in their Ministry
6:31 Refreshment Ministries seeks to serve the Lord Jesus by ministering to His ministers. Training and establishing new ministers is of limited value if we don’t take care of them when they are serving the church, serving their Lord. A haven of peace and quiet will allow your minister to re-engage with the Lord Jesus, rest from the hustle of life and return to you refreshed.