Club Chaplain, Peter Amos delivers a festive message as we prepare to celebrate a new chapter here at Oakwell.
What have Barnsley and China got in common? Apart from being red to the core politically. Barnsley Football Club now has a new Chinese co-owner/chairperson. We welcome Chien Lee and Paul Conway - the other half of this partnership - and their consortium to the greatest town and best football club in the world. And we wholeheartedly thank Mr Patrick Cryne for his tremendous, generous and unstinting support over very, many years. Whatever we say will never be enough to express our appreciation to Patrick and his family for all that they have given and all that they mean and will continue to mean to us as fans of BFC.
So, a new era begins and I can’t help putting two and two together and getting five. You see, Barnsley have had two major spiritual fathers who have had such an influence on the world that they have left significant marks in the annals of history, both nationally and internationally.
The Reverend Tiverton Preedy became Curate of St Peters Church Barnsley in 1887 and began Barnsley St Peters football club in the same year. When the rugby team he played for voted to play a match on Good Friday he walked away and established this football club. I’m very glad he was a principled man otherwise I would not be writing this to you today! He believed in a muscular Christianity that had a place for real Barnsley men and he has left an amazing legacy of which we, and the whole footballing world, are all now part.
James Hudson Taylor was born here in Barnsley in 1832 and became the first English Christian missionary to China where he served the Chinese people for 51 years, leaving England from Liverpool in 1853. He was responsible for establishing the China Inland Mission taking 800 missionaries to China, establishing 125 schools. He learnt several of the Chinese languages and even wrote a copy of the New Testament in the Ningbo dialect. He is revered among the Chinese Christian community which now stands at well over 60 million and, according to reliable sources, is on track to have the largest national Christian community in the world. And we have Hudson Taylor, among others, to thank.
Do you remember those ‘Dot to Dot’ books? I loved them as a kid. Maybe I did too many of them because I can see some dots that need joining here.
We are living in an era where the legacy of these two spiritual fathers have come together in a way that nobody, except those with a clear prophetic vision, could ever have envisaged.
I have been delighted to be part of an amazing journey so far with Barnsley FC and I am so thrilled to be part of, what I consider to be, a significant new period, not only for Barnsley Football Club, but also for our town.
Without Patrick and his family holding things together for us so well we would not have come to this place.
Now, I’m not saying I know where this is leading. I am simply joining the dots and it is making a fascinating picture and putting a huge smile on my face.
Christmas is about happy surprises. I’m hoping this is one of them. Whether it is or not we trust that this Christmas Season is a really happy one for all connected with Barnsley FC. God bless you all.
Peter Amos - Club Chaplain
Merry Christmas, Reds!