Chris Ellis was welcomed as our new President at the Baptist Assembly in May 2014. His focus for the year is ‘Higher, Deeper, Wider’ – based on the second half of Ephesians 3.  A new resource to accompany Chris during his Presidential year is based on a conversation about worship between Chris and Baptist minister Ruth Rice.  This series of eight studies is called 'Let's Talk about Worship', and is available to download free of charge for your small group to join in the conversation.

Each month Chris will be sharing his thoughts from his travels through this blog site.  He would love to engage in conversation with you and your church, and there will be opportunity for you to leave your comments at the end of each blog post. Please share your feedback in this way.


Click here to access the blog posts from Ernie Whalley during his Presidential year 2013-14.

431PresidentBlog
Higher Deeper Wider

As I approach the final days of my year as BUGB president, it is good to look back and celebrate the wide variety of churches and situations which I have been able to visit.  It has been good to share fellowship, to learn about what God is doing in different situations and to offer encouragement and prayer on behalf of our Union.

Yet the more I reflect on the year and its encounters, from Exeter to Durham, from Nazareth to Warrington, from Southend to Caerphilly, the more I am committed to the theme which has travelled with me.  At the Assembly last year, and in many places since, I have invited people to explore Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3.14-21.  In particular, its call to a three dimensional faith –

  • higher in our appreciation of the greatness of God,
  • deeper in our response to his love and our willingness to open ourselves to the work of his gracious Spirit
  • and wider in our vision of his kingdom presence and kingdom purposes 

All begins and ends in God.  Our worship speaks when we should remain silent, sings when we cannot explain, and rests in awe before the awesome mystery of God.  Our faith is stretched and deepened as we encounter God’s grace at moments and places of extreme need.  Our perspectives on mission are transformed as we see the world as the place where God is at work redeeming and transforming lives.  Undergirding all this is a deep sense of longing which I believe is the disturbing and life-giving work of the Holy Spirit drawing us deeper into God and deeper into his kingdom activity.  Riches indeed!

I want to thank all those who, especially this year, have encouraged and supported me in prayer and gracious hospitality.  It has been an immense privilege to be invited into your homes and your churches, as well as to glimpse something of what God is doing in your various situations.  As a Union, we are in a time of change and I want to invite you to pray for one another, as well as for Jenni Entrican, as she approaches her year as president, and Lynn Green and our team leaders as they serve and guide our fellowship in the months ahead.

‘Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen’  (Ephesians 3.20-21)

Chris Ellis

 
If you want to think more about worship with Chris, then visit Let's Talk about Worship where you will find a series of interviews with Chris and some great linked resources for small group study in your church.
 
 
 

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431PresidentBlog
Religious Liberty

There has been a deep sense of shock in response to the news stories of Christians and others being beheaded by IS.  Perhaps the method of execution is particularly chilling, but the targeting of someone because of their religion is often entangled with issues of race as well.  So we grimly watched our news feeds as we learned of Jews being targeted in a French supermarket and heard, as a kind of commentary, of the growing number of anti-Semitic attacks across Europe.

But these events are not all the responsibility of one religion or a single kind of political group.  Last Spring, thanks to BMS World Mission, I visited the Palestinian West Bank and heard the stories of how both Christian and Muslim Palestinian families were separated, and the simple task of going to work or to church were disrupted by the security fence.  With countless others, I crossed through checkpoints, a process made easier for me by my UK passport, but still an uneasy experience.  I visited the Hebron mosque where, a few years earlier, a lone Israeli gunman had massacred people at prayer.

This is the broken world in which we live and which has been redeemed by our Saviour who was publically and painfully executed.  Terrible suffering and gruesome atrocities should not lead us to an ‘us and them’ stance but should bring us to our knees in prayer.  This prayer is to a God who put himself at the mercy of a sinful and violent world and who hears our prayers as one who knows pain and the suffering of the victim from the inside.  Of course, this prayer to which we are led is not only prayer for Christians, but for all who suffer, whether for their faith, in Syria, India, Northern Nigeria, or wherever.

Yet while our prayers must encompass all who suffer, for whatever reason, we also have a particular responsibility to hold in prayer those who suffer for their following of Jesus.

A few weeks ago I was in the Palace of Westminster at the launch of the Evangelical Alliance’s Religious Liberty Commission, a partnership between the Alliance and Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Release International and Open Doors.  At the launch, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, argued, "We must speak out in solidarity.  Silence is not an option.  Treasuring the dignity of each and every human must mean that we treasure their right to religious belief – even when we profoundly disagree with them."  This is a sentiment that Thomas Helwys espoused four centuries ago when, on the basis of scripture, he argued for the liberty of conscience for all: ‘Let them be heretics, Turks, Jews, or whatsoever, it appertains not to the earthly power to punish them in the least measure.’ 

Awareness, fellowship, campaigning and prayer go hand in hand and the commission’s website offers news, stories and themes which can inform and provoke our prayer together.

Chris Ellis

 
If you want to think more about worship with Chris, then visit Let's Talk about Worship where you will find a series of interviews with Chris and some great linked resources for small group study in your church.
 
 
 

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431PresidentBlog
BUGB is US


It really feels like winter at the moment.  As I write, at the end of January, the snow outside our front door is more than a foot deep.  My travels around the country have obviously been fewer during the Christmas and New Year period, though that is about to change.

I have been looking back at my schedule, both for last year and for the events and visits coming up in the next few months.  The range has been fascinating.  The largest share has been my visits to local churches and projects – and rightly so – as I have shared fellowship, led worship, preached or just listened and prayed with people engaging in local mission.

But my year has also included ministers’ conferences, association celebrations, college teaching, quiet days and retreats, discernment days, council meetings, and representation at national events, such as the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday.

Each of these events has provided a snapshot of our Union, a picture of Christians in fellowship and of the Holy Spirit at work.  I pray that my presence as your representative in each of these places has been a sign that wherever we are, that wherever we worship, witness or struggle to seek and do God’s will, we are not alone.  Our Union takes various forms – as local churches cluster for mutual support and witness, as associations plan and pray strategically in support of local mission, and nationally as we support one another in prayer and in the sharing of resources.  This is union, this is fellowship – the communion of the Holy Spirit – God active amongst us gathering us and sending us, calling and equipping.

This union/fellowship/communion language is very important because it reminds us that our life together, however dispersed we might be, is the outpouring of God’s love.  We plan and serve and share, yet all this is made possible by the Holy Spirit who guides and empowers.  The Union is ‘us’, in each dimension of our relating and each aspect of our witnessing.  But above and under and through all this, the union is our life in God, the Holy One in our midst.  The apostle Paul writes,

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4.1-3)

Chris Ellis

 
If you want to think more about worship with Chris, then visit Let's Talk about Worship where you will find a series of interviews with Chris and some great linked resources for small group study in your church.
 
 
 

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