By RHYS STENNER
Pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Ga.
I had been tracking news of grave concern for the Queen’s health throughout the day, but finally heard the news when Karl Thomason, one of our deacons, texted me.
I had anticipated this moment for several years. After the passing of Prince Philip, it was clear that the Queen had lost her “strength and stay.” She died this Sept 8th, two days after meeting her 15th Prime Minister. Her first was Winston Churchill.
I’ve noticed today that my fellow Brits are personalizing the tributes to the Queen.
I first saw her when the “suspension bridge” or the Severn Bridge was built linking England and Wales.
And then my Grandpa, a proud Welshman, wanted to make sure that we saw the Queen when she came to the great city of Bristol. Grandpa insisted that she especially waved to my sister Sophie who 45 years later will insist this is the case.
Sophie reminded me that this was 1977, the year of her silver jubilee, when she toured 36 countries. The Queen wore bright colors. She said that she “needed to be seen to be believed!”
Like most who have commented, I felt like the Queen had always been there. She undoubtedly continued to grow, shine and perhaps even sparkle.
At the heart of the story of Queen Elizabeth II is a sense of duty first to Christ, whose name she was unashamed to speak, and then to her country and the renewal of the Commonwealth, her proudest legacy.
Of course, some complained about the expensive palaces and castles, which is a reminder that the Queen presided over a democracy. But it was reckoned that she would bring in 100 fold more than what was spent; hence London today gleams with gold leaf.
I spoke to my mother back in Devon, who said she could remember the day it was said, “The King is dead.“
Mum is 83 years old and deeply moved. She feels a great sense of loss.
My wife Louise shed quite a few tears hearing the news. She is proud of the Queen’s faith.
Our girls remember the 50th Jubilee in Britain just before we immigrated to Georgia. I remember them singing, “The Queen has been reigning for 50 years!”
So what next? I think it’s right to honor a great servant. Study the story and reflect over the next ten days of mourning. Indeed there are lessons from arguably the greatest monarch of the last thousand years.
Do pray for the new King. John Stott prepared him for confirmation years ago. There are believers in the royal family. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are a big part of the future, and Prince William is now the heir to the throne.
There is real grief and uncertainty.
“In the year King Uzziah died.”
Here are thoughts from my wife Louise and our adult children.
“Her faith was her bedrock, her character was molded by it, and her service was the expression of it.” — Louise Stenner.
“The nation’s grandmother, faithful servant, she was long to reign over us, led courageously for the Lord, and wasn’t scared to hold back on declaring her faith.” — Megan Edwards.
“She was a remarkable woman, amazing leader, and devoted follower of God. We were always in good hands with the Queen at the helm, and she was a staple in British life. Everyone loved her, and she was perpetually a picture of stability, endurance, and faith.” — Eleanor Stenner, member at Shades Mountain BC, Birmingham.
“She embraced change and used the tools around her to spread comfort and the Gospel with a joyous attitude.” — Sarah Dees.
Granddaughter Brynlee was excited that the Queen is in heaven.
[Rhys Stenner is the senior pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, with two locations in the South Metro Atlanta area. Rhys was previously senior pastor of Holland Road Baptist Church in Brighton and Hove, England. New Hope is noted as one of the more diverse churches in Atlanta, with a strong teaching ministry on radio and podcast. Well-known for its commitment to missions, New Hope currently works in Wales, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, India, Thailand, and Haiti. In addition to his leadership at New Hope, Rhys has founded and leads a partnership of many churches in Wales, as well as founding a pastors’ network in South Metro Atlanta. Rhys is a keen golfer and delights to follow rugby as well as ministering to rugby clubs in Wales. He is married to Louise and has three girls. He lives in Fayetteville, Georgia.]