Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Baptist Assembly - a few thoughts...

Let me begin with a couple of confession - this was my first Assembly where I stayed over & attended something on each of the 3 days. I have been before, to received my handshake & as a day visitor in Blackpool a few years ago. So why did I go this time? 3 reasons really, first to support Chris Duffett. Chris & Ruth were members of Hoole Baptist for 16 yrs, I met Chris when he was 18 & gave him his first job!! Second, I have been following the Beyond400 conversations with interest via website & twitter, and thirdly as some one in leadership of Fresh Streams I wanted to see for myself what an assembly was like. Second confession, I didn't go to everything!! I missed the AGM stuff, didn't fancy any of the Day Conferences & had booked a show before the Futures Discussion Session was put in the programme.

Some highlights for me:
  • Seeing Chris so well received on Friday eve, I heard so many positive comments about Chris to convince me that his presidential year will be part of the catalyst needed to begin to see the changes that we need to see across Baptist churches in England.
  • The online community using twitter helped me connect & belong esp. since there wasn't any real time to connect face to face.
  • I thought Aradhna were outstanding at the morning communion, in fact the level of diversity & inclusion from the stage was clear to see & obviously reflected thought & planning
  • From what I saw & heard I believe that those leading BUGB & BMS are genuine in the desire to hear from God through the listening to many voices, the job/task before them is not an easy one & they do need our prayers.

Could have been better…
  • I would have liked to have seen more space in the main sessions to stop and wait on the Spirit, the programme had to be followed so closely there seemed no opportunity to be spontaneous.
  • For me the relational dynamic of the assembly was very weak, there was no physical space to meet old & make new friends, for me this reflects one of biggest challenges as we move forward building a relational dynamic that underpins all the rest.
  • I have to agree with a previous blogger about the number of non-Baptists involved in leading worship, and keynote speakers? Why did we have an American Baptist leader as a keynote speaker? Surely we have some British Baptist Leaders we could have used instead? I need to be inspired by UK Baptist leaders & I must admit, with no disrespect to anyone, I feel the assembly should be the place we find this inspiration. NB I did find the recognition of ministers & BMS mission workers very encouraging & humbling to witness - to see individuals willing to obey the call of God is inspiring.

Overall I enjoyed the 3 days, for me the opportunity to take time out to enjoy London was too much to resist, as this was only my 5th time of staying in the capital city, so this added to my experience. I was sorry to miss the Futures discussion, but thanks to the Baptist Times for a great summary and the twitter feed I picked up a flavour of the discussion. I do think we are in the midst of a "kiros" moment and it is my hope & prayer that we do fully embrace the moment. I also appreciate that you can't please everyone in seeking to move forward,  I recognise that as we move Beyond400 "you've got to be in it to win it" so as for me I am renewing my commitment to build relationally & prayerfully with fellow Baptists (& non Baptists) to see our denomination renewed and re envisioned and ultimately to see our nation(s) reached with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Beyond the past, Beyond our present, Beyond the walls, Beyond our comfort, lies the Big Hearted God who works beyond our imaginations.