Baptist Steering Group - October 2017
This month Baptist Steering Group (BSG) and All Team Leaders (ATLs) travelled north to meet in the Northern Baptist Association (NBA) in Spennymoor near Durham.
The “golden thread” from the Lord that emerged through our gathering was that call not to be content with sailing too close to the shore but be willing to set sail and head out toward the horizon. Disney’s recent film Moana, and this prayer from Francis Drake expressed that theme:
Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
attributed - Sir Francis Drake -1577
It also came through in the church stories, as we listened to Duncan Moore from Durham Road, Linda Donaldson from Portrack and Paul Newman from Whitley Bay.
Photo: Duncan Moore
Our vision as Baptists Together has always been to empower passionate and gifted people from across our movement to take the lead for us in different areas, so it was really encouraging to hear more about how the Baptist Together Mission Forum and the Baptist Together Children, Youth and Families Round Table are acting as catalysts and offering leadership in these two key areas.
It was fantastic to learn that across our Northern and East Midlands Associations (North West, Yorkshire, Northern and East Midlands), there is emerging a sizeable network of over 40 pioneers, many of them under 40 years old. How good is that? It was also good that Baptists Together were represented by Stuart Davison at the launch of “Faith in Later Life” and the plan is to share these resources with our churches to equip them in their mission and discipleship. We are looking forward to the Mission Forum leading a focus on mission and pioneering at Council in the near future.
The CYF Round Table is keen to inspire a culture across our Union where children, youth and families are valued and invested in. One of the key ways they hope to achieve this is through sharing best practice locally and connecting and promoting resources widely. One particular focus is encouraging ministry and mission with schools and Martin Sweet, from Spinnaker shared more about the many opportunities that exist in schools.
Ignite – investing in leaders, investing in mission…
Articulating what covenant relationships look like in practice is a key aspect of the Ignite report proposals. Drawing together lots of input and ideas from a variety of sources, John Claydon and Dan Pratt have drafted a paper outlining the covenant relationship that exists between our ministers and also the covenant relationship between a Church and minister. We gave time to thorough reflection and discussion of this document and the fruit of this will be incorporated into a revised paper which will be given to the Ignite implementation group (Andy Hughes, Specialist Team Leader: Ministries; Phil Barnard, Regional Team Leader, London Baptist Association and Steve Finamore, Principal, Bristol Baptist College). It is hoped that this and other Ignite recommendations can be brought to Council for wider discernment in March 2018.
As members of our Union, our five Baptist Colleges are an essential part of who we are and our common mission. Following his recent induction as Principal, we were encouraged to hear Philip McCormack share his vision for Spurgeon’s College; a vision that is both local, national and international and we prayed for him and the team at this time.
Feedback has indicated that our honesty in the September Key Communications from BSG has been appreciated. Thank you to all those who have been standing with us in prayer as we have continued to seek the Lord for a way forward. After a sustained time of prayer and meditation on Isaiah 43:14-21 and I Corinthians 12:12-27 ATLs reflected on where we got to last time we met. This was followed with an extended time of sharing our differing hopes and understandings of the nature of our Union and lots of careful listening. The result of this was that we were able to discover consensus among us as we reaffirmed our desire to continue developing our collaborative relationships based on the ethos of the Futures report of 2012. In addition to returning to give an account of our work in this area since Council in March 17, we agreed that we need to continue to work with Council in discerning how best our interdependent, collaborative relationships can shape our decision making, governance and structures as these have been identified as particular areas of challenge for us as Baptists Together. In other words, we agreed that we needed to continue to work out the practicalities of our culture value, “Feel like one team: Celebrating diversity; valuing, respecting and trusting each other as we work together in partnerships – making sure everyone feels included and listened to.”
As we turn towards the horizon of the future, it might not be all plain sailing, but we ended our time together concluding that we had made good progress, thankful that the Lord had been with us and that we had made some small yet significant steps forward.
Lynn Green October 2017
The Revd Lynn Green is General Secretary of our Baptist Union
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