Baptist Steering Group - June 2019
'What is God saying, what will I do? and who needs to hear?’
I’m pleased to be able to report that this has been a good Baptist Steering Group (BSG). Together with All Team Leaders (ATLs) we had time to pray and be together as well as make progress in a number of areas.
We began by encouraging each other with stories of where we are seeing God at work. Using Ephesians 3:14-21 we prayed for each other and for our time together. Later, on the first day Marjorie Allan, our Accompanier, led us in a mini-Discovery Bible study looking at the parable of the banquet from Luke 14. We shared together using the simple questions; what is God saying? What will I do? And who needs to hear? On Thursday Phil Barnard led us in worship and prayer and we watched the Nooma video, “Rhythm”
which encourages us to hear and participate in God’s melody in the midst of life and be in tune with his song.
I was delighted to bring the greetings of Stephen Keyworth
to the meeting and to let everyone know that he was being discharged early from the Rehab. In fact, he discharged on the day of BSG and will continue the long journey of rehabilitation at home. We continue to praise God for his amazing recovery so far and we also keep praying for a restoration to full health for Stephen and for Liz and the family as they support him on this journey.
The National Settlement Team (NST), which met immediately prior to BSG, also laid on a farewell meal for Robin Urwin
, who is leaving the Ministries Team after 15 years of dedicated service and who has done so much to enable the work of the NST over the years.
Finally, we prayed a blessing over Marion Fiddes
as this was her last meeting with BSG. Marion has served as the Trustee Board representative on BSG for many years and we will really miss her thoughtful insight, compassion and prayerful support.
We reflected upon our recent Baptist Assembly and Networking Day
and were so encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive feedback. We also listened to the feedback of those who still felt that the recognition of Minister’s and Mission personnel was not celebrated appropriately and noted that we needed to give this more careful consideration for our 2020 Assembly.
It was recently announced that the May Day Bank Holiday in 2020 is being moved from Monday 4 May to Friday 8 to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. This means that the dates that we have already booked for Assembly 2020 in Bournemouth are now part of a Bank Holiday weekend. We discussed ideas about how we could create a programme that reflects this and also build on the success of this year’s Networking Day in preparation for a strategic planning meeting with our friends from BMS next month.
Along with receiving an encouraging report from the Mission Forum, BSG were also updated by Nigel Coles about his conversations with the Core team of the Larger Churches Conference
. Alongside all our churches, we affirmed the particular gift of our larger churches who belong to Baptists Together and were encouraged to hear of the developing ideas about how these churches wanted to nurture mutually enriching relationships with sister churches for the sake of the Kingdom.
I took the opportunity to lead BSG in a reflection of the journey that we are making following on from Council’s historic Apology for the Transatlantic slave trade in 2007
. In particular we reflected on our close relationship with the Jamaica Baptist Union
and how we might continue to deepen that relationship and nurture authentic, integrated, non-discriminatory community where we are not only co-workers but co-equal in partnership for God’s mission. BSG expressed their wholehearted commitment to racial justice and a desire to experience more of the richness of multicultural diversity across our Baptist family. We were reminded of some of the great resources
that are available to local churches as they seek to explore this area. I also highlighted the forthcoming Sam Sharpe Lecture
and encouraged everyone to attend this significant event.
We agreed to explore some possible ways to generate new income streams for Baptists Together Home Mission
and we also discussed plans for promoting and communicating Home Mission better.
At the same time, we also recognised that we needed to complete a piece of work that has already been started which looks at the core mission enabling and support services our churches need so that we can think carefully and creatively about how we can deliver these in sustainable ways for the future.
The Baptists Together Home Mission budget for 2020
was agreed. As part of our budget discussions we considered the 5 areas that Council have highlighted as important for us to focus on now so that we can be intentional about aligning resources towards our priorities.
Whilst we recognised that all of these areas are already being invested in through local churches, Regional Associations, Colleges and Specialist Teams in lots of different ways we also felt that it was important for there to be some resource available for national initiatives and enabling that complement and network what is happening locally and regionally. Three of these focus areas already have some such resourcing: Embracing Adventure through the Mission Forum budget, developing leadership through the appointment of Tim Fergusson as the Ministries Adviser: ministry development; and the digital revolution focus with the plans to appoint a communications assistant to help develop and our capacity in this area across the family. Furthermore, we agreed to commit to making some “seed funding” available in 2020 to the Children, Youth and Families Round Table and the embryonic Young Adults Forum to help them to scope, develop and enable greater collaborative action in these remaining two areas.
Andy Hughes sought feedback from BSG about how the new Ministerial Recognition
processes were bedding in across all teams and the response was very positive. After a few initial glitches with the technology, the new integrated and streamlined processes were working well and definitely contributing to our “Feeling like one team” culture. Andy was also delighted to report that the new group of recently retired ministers who planned the pre-retirement course
had done a good job organising their first conference and were now also exploring other opportunities to support, encourage and connect retired ministers.
In response to a query about the Churches Ministerial Counselling Service
(CMCS), Andy Hughes reassured BSG that the service is completely confidential and that there is absolutely no way that Andy or anyone else from Baptists Together can identify a user. CMCS is one of the ways that we offer support to our Ministers, our staff, and their families and we commend this service. A minister once chose to write to me in appreciation of CMCS, “...I met with a fantastic counsellor through the service, who not only helped me get back on my feet again, but who I believe has helped me to address a number of things which leave me more “well” than I was before I got ill!…it is not an overstatement I think to say that without this counselling I would not have remained in ministry…”
You will notice that we did not invite anyone to join with BSG on Wednesday evening as has become our custom. These gatherings can be very intense, particularly for my regional colleagues who precede BSG/ATLs with NST, so I felt that this time we should take the evening to relax together. The summer evening’s walk turned out to be a bit more blustery than we had imagined (and we won’t dwell on the fact that the advance party of walkers managed to leave the stragglers behind, though they did find their way back nevertheless!) and we never did get round to playing Reverse Charades or Pétanque or table tennis but the chance to just chill and ‘hang out’ together was appreciated.
As we look forward to a change of pace over the summer and, for many of us, the opportunity to take holiday, I am praying that we will all be able to rest and be refreshed in the Lord!
The Revd Lynn Green is General Secretary of our Baptist Union
Baptist Steering Group offers collaborative leadership through co-ordinating the effective development and implementation of the broad strategy discerned by Council.
The purpose and role of All Team Leaders (Regional, College and Specialist) is to work together to develop and shape policies and plans to enable us to achieve our overall vision and strategy.
The Accompanying Group
to the Baptist Steering Group provides prayer support and shares in spiritual and missional reflection with them.
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