Jenni Entrican becomes EBF President
The Revd Jenni Entrican has become the new President of the European Baptist Federation (EBF). Jenni, a former President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, became the second woman to assume the role following her induction at the EBF’s annual council in Yerevan, Armenia
She had been elected Vice President in 2015.
‘For the last two years as Vice President I have been able to travel to a number of countries in Europe and the Middle East and I have learnt so much of how Baptist Christians are living out their faith in taxing circumstances,’ Jenni said.
‘So I feel very honoured to take up this Presidency where, with God’s grace, I hope to be an encouragement and support to our sisters and brothers in the EBF.
‘Your prayers as I fulfil this role, would be much appreciated.’
EBF General Secretary Tony Peck said he was delighted that Jenni had become the new President. When Birgit Karlsson (Sweden), the only previous female incumbent, had been elected in the 1990s there was more debate, he said. This time, there was much more acceptance.
Speaking of Jenni's initial election as Vice President, he said, ‘The EBF has a diversity of views about women in ministry, and we have agreed that whilst we are free to express these to one another, we should respect each another and it is not something that should in any way break our fellowship.
‘In the end Jenni's nomination was agreed overwhelmingly, the few voting against or abstaining being leaders who quite understandably felt that they needed to represent with integrity the views of their Unions in this matter. I see this result as a sign of real progress in the breadth and depth of our EBF fellowship that can embrace such difference and diversity.’
Tony said that Jenni brings a lifetime of experience to the role, not least her experience as a mission pioneer (she led the Jacob’s Well church plant for several years) and her spiritual leadership.
Jenni hopes to reach out to the wide Baptist family.
She said, 'I have learned a great deal of respect for my European brothers and sisters, as I have learnt of the challenges many face, and how they are committed to Christ and the Baptist family. The roll call at the opening night of the Council is always a highlight for me as we are reminded of the breadth of this Federation - encompassing not only Europe but the Middle East.
'Reading the history of the EBF from its inception in 1950, it’s easy to be struck by how Baptists have faced the considerable challenges in post-war Europe with fortitude and resilience, finding ways to live together and support one another in remarkably diverse settings.
'I delighted to be the second woman called to this post, and my prayer and my commitment will be to serve, support and encourage this wide Baptist family in their endeavours to live out the Kingdom of God as Christ followers in these complex, and for many, challenging days.'
Meego Remmel of Estonia (above, third left) was elected Vice President. He will succeed Jenni in two years.
The annual gathering took place Yerevan, home of Jenni’s predecessor Asatur Nahapetyan (below), who leads the Armenian Baptist Union.
Asatur, who was once mentored by David Coffey, former Baptist Union General Secretary, was taught at the International Baptist Theological Seminary when it was based in Prague, and went through the same Baptist World Alliance (BWA) younger leaders programme that helped to nurture Elijah Brown, the new BWA General Secretary.
‘Asatur is a good example of what happens when you encourage potential younger leaders,’ said Tony.
‘He became leader of the Armenian Baptists at a young age due to the sudden death of his predecessor, and has given excellent leadership. He has helped to develop a Baptist way that is distinctly Armenian, and there has been a growth in the number of churches. When Armenia became independent in 1991 there were just 350 Baptist church members. Now there are more than 100 churches and 6,000 members.’
Four resolutions were agreed at the Council, concerning anti-terror legislation and religious freedom; Christian marriage; Iraq; and religious freedom in Russia.
Pictures | Toma Magda, Croatia