Baptist Steering Group and All Team Leaders met last week at Knuston Hall, Wellingborough. Lynn Green opened our time together with some reflections on Exodus 14 and particularly verses 13-16 and we were still before the Lord at the outset of our gathering.
Baptist Steering Group - April 2017
On Thursday morning Stephen Keyworth led us in prayer and worship focused on the account of Lazarus being raised from the dead from John 11:17-44 and we also spent time in prayer for our world.
Our vision for mission and the Futures process
In March our Council had been invited to reflect and review following the Futures process, the period five years ago when we seriously reflected on our key priorities as a Union/Baptists Together.
We want to be the best we can be to fulfil our part in God's mission and this time of reflection is aimed at helping us to continue to develop into that missional movement.
During our time together as Council we shared our reflections in plenary together. We began with where we are flying as Baptists Together. Very good local churches and ministers, excellent creative and missional engagement with the wider community, our response to asylum seekers and the awarding of Home Mission grants regionally, rather than nationally, were all highlighted.
Members then began to share those areas where we feel ‘stuck in the mud’. Areas highlighted were numerous and included our complex structures and the decision making and accountability within them; Home Mission and its communication and promotion; struggling local churches; the pension situation and the wider difficult financial climate; an erosion of covenant relationships and our interdependence as churches, associations and colleges. They were invited to gather into groups and think about which of the 'stuck areas' were most important to address. These priority areas highlighted key common concerns across the groups. (full Council report can be seen here).
All Team Leaders spent Wednesday exploring and seeking to address these priority areas with the help of a facilitator. After an ice breaker activity introducing some of the issues of managing change in a complex situation, we then had some input about Kurt Lewin's "unfreeze, change, freeze" model of change and spent time in smaller groups identifying drivers and restrainers for change. We then went on to begin some work using the RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consult, Inform) model which is helpful in identifying and clarifying who is doing what. We have set aside a further day in May to continue working with our facilitator.
Ministers from the Central Baptist Association
It was great to share and pray with ministers from the CBA...
Jacqui Green from Stony Stratford Community Church (close to Milton Keynes) shared how they are a loving family filled with the Holy Spirit. They are a Charismatic community and their Prophets will regularly go out on to the streets to pray for those God has placed on their hearts. That is not an adult only expression of God’s love – their Sunday School regularly does the same. This they do and it has recently enabled five baptisms to happen.
When Michael Hogg arrived at Wollaston Baptist Church 14 years ago it soon became apparent change was needed. Having to break the ice on the outside toilets was one way that was made known! Their story was one of carefully listening to God over ten years. In that time, the way forward was made known – knock the building down and start again. This was a painful decision, but they followed in obedience and since 2012 when it was completed they have seen why God wanted a new pot for an old plant. Apart from the growth of groups they now run, they support local businesses and hold events that bring up to 500 people.
‘We are God’s Craftsmanship’ and ‘revival is happening one person at a time’ was the way Lisa Kerry described Croxley Green Baptist Church. A Baptist Nun established the church during the war years as she wanted to give hope at a time of darkness. Since then this loving, traditional church in a picturesque traditional community has had a long obedience in the same direction. They have had 40 years of holiday club and it has always been filled within a day. Despite the area and church being a place where many aspects of life have stayed the same, Lisa shared stories of the people they are walking with where they are now having to support and reflect into the complexities of contemporary society. We may well hear more from them next year as the 2018-19 President will be Dave Gregory their Senior Minister.
David Skinner has been at Houghton Regis Baptist Church for eight years and a changing landscape literally and metaphorically describes their ministry. They have moved from being exclusively white working class to now being significantly multicultural. They engage with the issues of their area where there is high deprivation. When David started they were supported significantly by Home Mission, but they no longer require a grant as they have experienced significant growth. As part of their engagement with the wider community God has placed on their hearts a desire to pioneer and plant a community when two huge new housing estates are established in the area.
Children, Youth and Families (CYF)
We discussed the feedback from BSG's suggestions for how we share Home Mission money between our teams for 2018 and, after reflection, agreed that we would extend the 2017 approach for a further year.
We had an in depth discussion about proposals for the Home Mission stipend level for 2018 and this will be shared with the BUGB Trustees who are responsible for making the final decision.
Adrian Argile presented the findings from a survey designed to give a picture of how Baptist Together Home Mission is being promoted by each Association. Responses and best practice will be shared with every Association team.
It had been announced this week that Rev Dave Gregory from Croxley Green Baptist Church has been elected as President of our Union from 2018-19. Dave has a passion for helping people enjoy science and connecting it to God and faith. Read more about him here. We look forward to all he will bring to the role!
Collaborate - creating a Database across Baptists Together
We received the final report from the Collaborate project team. In evaluating this project we were pleased to see that this had involved some excellent collaborative working and also came in under budget. The issues that did not go so well were also reviewed and, again, we were pleased to see how the team had been resolving these. Thanks and appreciation need to be expressed again for the dedicated hard work of all the project team members: Tim Presswood (NWBA), Rachel Tole (Support Services), Hayley Beckett (EBA), Debbie Gamble (YBA), Robin Urwin (Ministries Team), Tracey Vallance (Faith & Society), Ruth Whiter (WEBA)! The project is now closed and going forward, Richard Wilson (Support Services TL) will assess whether any further projects need to be initiated and when.
We were delighted to hear of the appointment of Kang-San Tan as General Director of BMS World Mission, of Rev Professor Philip McCormack as Principal of Spurgeon's College.
This gathering was the last time that Richard Nicholls will be with us before his retirement at the end of April and so we said farewell to him and expressed our deep appreciation for all the many ways that he has invested so much of himself in our life and vision. We gathered round and prayed for Richard at the time of endings and new beginnings.
Lynn Green April 2017
The Revd Lynn Green is General Secretary of our Baptist Union
Please share this update with your church.