The Baptist Union of Great Britain is a member of the European Baptist Federation
, comprised of approximately 770,000 Baptists in 52 Unions and Conventions, and 7 affiliated churches and networks, stretching from Portugal to the far reaches of Russia. Included in this family are Baptists in Eurasia and the Middle and Near East. EBF leaders work continuously to help strengthen the relationships in these countries where, as of now, no formal union exists.
The European Baptist Federation also serves as the European representative for the Baptist World Alliance.
Purpose of the EBF
According to its Statutes the purpose of the EBF is ‘to strengthen and draw together Baptists in Europe and the Middle East on the basis of their Christian witness and distinctive convictions, to encourage and inspire them in faith and fellowship and shared responsibility, and to seek in all its endeavours to fulfill the will of Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour.’
The Story So Far
The EBF was founded in 1949 to unite European Baptists as Europe emerged from the devastation of World War 2. During the Cold War the EBF maintained contact with believers behind the Iron Curtain who were suffering for their faith.
Since 1990 the membership of the EBF has grown to over 50 Baptist Unions, representing 13,000 churches and 800,000 members. The EBF represents nearly every country in Europe and Euro-Asia and also five Unions in the Middle East. The EBF is one of six Regions which make up the Baptist World Alliance.
Many Baptist churches still face difficulties resulting from poverty, war, or continuing threats to their religious freedom. The EBF family is diverse in culture, language and tradition but remains united in Baptist identity, evangelistic zeal, and a concern for human rights and religious freedom. We share a commitment to play a full part with other Christians in creating societies in Europe and the Middle East which reflect the values of the Kingdom of God.
Mission and Evangelism
In the past ten years it has been exciting to see significant growth in new believers and new churches amongst European Baptists.
The EBF, with the generous help of its Mission Partners, has developed an ambitious new project to facilitate evangelism and the planting of new churches. The Indigenous Mission Project (IMP) provides funding for suitably gifted people to work as evangelists and church planters in their own countries.
In this and in other ways the EBF works closely with mission partners based in the USA, Canada and the UK in making Jesus known in Europe and the Middle East.
Human Rights and Religious Freedom
The EBF has been very active in taking up the cause of religious freedom in countries where Baptist and other religious minorities have suffered discrimination, repressive religious laws, and even violence and imprisonment in recent years. A specialist panel, including several human rights lawyers, is available to advise the EBF on making representations to governments and other authorities. The EBF also takes up issues of human rights which affect the whole of Europe, such as the recent growth in human trafficking.
A key priority for the EBF has been the development of theological education to train future leaders for our churches and Unions. Most Unions have their own Seminaries training pastors, church musicians and others, and many of these are part of the EBF Consortium of European Baptist Theological Schools (CEBTS).
The EBF is fortunate to own a major resource for theological education, the International Baptist Theological Seminary (IBTS) in Prague, Czech Republic. This superb facility specialises in offering higher academic qualifications for those who will be the Union leaders and theological teachers in their own countries. It has also developed the highly successful one-year Certificate in Applied Theology (CAT) for young people who are then equipped for various leadership roles back in their home churches and Unions. Recently IBTS was granted University status by the Czech Government.
European Baptist Aid (EBAid)
EBAid is an initiative which has the goal of being a more effective channel for humanitarian relief and development projects through the member unions of the EBF. We are delighted that several of our partners in Europe and North America as well as BWAid have become members of the EBAid Consortium. Its purpose is to co-ordinate a response to the many requests for help which we receive from Baptist Unions, churches and other projects in Europe and the Middle East. We see this as a practical way in which we can express the love of Christ for the poor, vulnerable and marginalised people with whom our churches come into contact.