General responses and feedback
Re: Reflections on the Baptist Assembly in Scotland
It was good to read Catriona Gorton's reflection on the BUS's recent Assembly. Such reflections are always helpful because they cause us to think about what we are doing and why.
I, too, hold dual membership - BUGB and BUW - and sometimes it is easy to contrast and to compare those two assemblies. But, like Catriona with BUS and BUGB, I have grown to appreciate belonging to two Unions. I would like to encourage all my Baptist friends to gather at their appropiate Assembly. It is not just what we can take from those Assemblies, and we can take from them. It is also about what we can give to the Assembly we attend.
As a recollection: it was 1997/98 that my wife and I attended four Baptsit Assemblies across the UK. The BUS Assembly in Glasgow, The BUGB Assembly in the Norbreck (Blackpool), The BUW English Assembly in Llanbadarn Fynydd, and the BUW Welsh Assembly in Newport, Pembokshire. We attended all four in that year in my capacity as President of the BUW English Assembly. It was a great experience ad we pray that we gave as much as we received. I would want to encourage this mutual exchange between the Unions.
Re: The state of Religious Education
The first question on religious education of any kind in state schools should be some variant of the old Donatist question "Quis est imperator cum ecclesiae?" which renders (a bit freely) in English as "Since when is the Church the Emperor's business?"
That is, Christian education is not the business of the secular state and as the state is the world it is all too likely that Christian education by the state will be compromised and unsatisfactory anyway - as indeed is implied in the recent reports. Church schools presumably can teach their own views - that gets us into a different question of how far it is proper for church schools to be integrated in the state system and/or particularly to be funded by the state. Note that he who 'pays the piper' may expect to 'call the tune' and we may not like the tune the state calls!!
We would represent New Testament teaching best by resolutely NOT 'meddling in other people's business' (I Pet 4;15) by pushing Christian education on our fellow citizens via the state school system, or expecting the state to do our job for us.
Re: President's blog
Earlier this year I visited BMS Kolkata Guest House. A couple of blocks away is the 'Mother House' and Museum where Mother Teresa is buried.
Mother Teresa not only lived at peace with everyone; she gave it. Every wrinkle on her aged hands, her worn sandals, her darned on top of darned wafer thin cardigan, her metal one plate, cup, bowl spoon and knife, her toothbrush, tells a story of a dear woman who gave her whole life to the poor and dying in Kolkata.
She not only lived at peace with everyone, but demonstrated it by caring for those left for dead on the streets of Kolkata - with her knarled and worn hands, and wearing her shoes of the gospel - tatty old sandals! All faiths in India respected and revered Mother Teresa, and still do.
Mother Teresa herself only felt called by God to Kolkata; she shone so brightly, that she was invited to start similar works all over India, and then the world. From one star there are now many.
Re: Introducing the new website and logo
How sad that nowhere in the logo is there an evangelistic emphasis. Better surely to have said that the fish includes the sense of the Great Commission - to go and make "fishers of men".
Big Welcome/General Secretary induction
Thank you for the excellent new-look Baptists Together website and magazine, and with the induction of Lynn Green it feels like a new start for the Baptist family.
But I’d like to question the timing of having Lynn Green’s induction on the same day as The Big Welcome. For many months the Mission Department has been urging us to set aside September 22nd as Big Welcome Sunday, a day to be seeker-friendly and to offer the biggest welcome of the year to visitors and newcomers to our churches.
Money and time has been invested in resources, and many churches have been working hard to sharpen our mission edge for this Sunday. We at New North Road, Huddersfield are having a special “Question Time” type panel instead of a sermon, to try to answer any questions that people might have in relaxed and helpful way. We have been urging our members to invite friends and family to come along and discover that “God hears our questions”.
But now the Big Welcome Sunday is upon us, it seems to have been forgotten. Instead we are asked to be part of the induction of our new General Secretary. The Baptist Times
makes no mention of The Big Welcome, but instead urges us to use a very seeker-unfriendly form of covenant for the Baptist family. I would love to use the covenant words and for us all to join in with Lynn’s induction at a distance, but not on Big Welcome Sunday of all Sundays.
Could we not have coordinated a bit better on this and tried hard to prioritise the Big Welcome one week and had the induction of our General Secretary on another Sunday?
The Revd Wayne Clarke
, New North Road Baptist Church, Huddersfield
We are aware of the conflict that exists with these two events on the same day.
The Big Welcome was originally developed in the Mission department and since February is now part of the work embraced by the new Faith and Society Team. It is true that this year the suggested date for Big Welcome was on or around 22 September. However, the date and materials are flexible and we know many churches are running the Big Welcome on other days.
When we came to arrange the induction of our General Secretary we had a lot less flexibility due to many conflicting dates, next Sunday was simply the least worst option.
The idea of the shared Covenant came from our President, Ernie Whalley as the content of the service was put together. Recognizing that many would be unable to make the journey to Sutton Coldfield sharing the words of the covenant provides an opportunity for as many to be involved as possible. It is simply to be used in whatever way is helpful for your fellowship on this special day.
Whatever the focus for any of our gatherings this Sunday I hope and pray that we will continue to seek God’s guidance together as mission focused disciples of the risen Christ.
The Revd Stephen Keyworth, Faith and Society Team Leader
Re: Being Church
Interesting slant on a common situation Sally! I've been thinking along similar lines for a while. We have a group of not-yet-Christian young people who voluntarily stay behind on Friday nights for discussion, after the "youth club" time.
I can't see how, even when they know the Lord for themselves, they'll readily relate to what we do on a Sunday, even though we're pretty informal and "modern." Will their church be Friday nights, as it goes "deeper?"
Then there are the adults with learning disabilities who meet on Wednesdays. Some of them join us on Sunday too, but some would struggle with that. Is the worship slot in that club their church?
And so on .... But that still leaves questions. With all those "different churches" at various times in the building, in what way are we "all one in Christ?" And how do we help those disparate groups to SEE themselves as part of the whole church, if they never meet with the "core" congregation?
This has implications, too, for how we keep the wheels on the whole thing - financially and from a "HR" perspective. Thanks for raising it though!
The Revd Tony Jones