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Depth of Jamaica/British Baptist relationship highlighted by BBC

A Baptist service was broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday morning to conclude a busy season of events marking the bicentenary of the partnership between Jamaican and British Baptists.

BicentenaryRadio4The service at Cannon Street Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham was originally due to air on 19 October, but a BBC technical problem prevented it going live.

Radio 4 was nevertheless still keen to feature the gathering in its 8.10am Sunday Worship slot, and organised a re-recording the Sunday just gone (16 November). Once again the congregation came out in force, and this time the broadcast went without a hitch.

‘There aren’t many relationships that can survive 200 years and shape the course of history,’ the BBC announcer stated on introducing the service, ‘but that’s the depth of the connections being marked this morning in the bicentenary celebrations between Jamaican and British Baptists.’

The address was given by Karl Johnson, Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) General Secretary (pictured), recorded during his visit to the UK last month as part of a Jamaican delegation to mark the bicentenary.

Karl JohnsonThen a varied programme of events in different parts of the country reflected on this shared history and what it means today.

It began with the Annual Sam Sharpe Lecture, delivered by Baptist theologian Delroy Reid-Salmon in Bristol, before moving to Birmingham for an event called Legacy: Learning from the Past, Embracing the Future. This aimed to inspire and help young people better understand God’s plans for their lives. The following day saw three services at Cannon Street.

The delegation moved to Yorkshire for celebration services in both Sheffield and Huddersfield. Two seminar events in each place looked at significant challenges currently faced; being inclusive churches and encouraging and recognising Black and Minority Ethnic women in ministry.

A discussion about Black Theology in Britain followed at Regent’s Park College in Oxford, before the final event: a Saturday evening celebration at Perry Rise Baptist Church in London, a multi-cultural church which is an embodiment of the flourishing partnership between Jamaican and British Baptists. During the visit Karl Henlin, a former JBU President, was also a speaker at BMS Catalyst Live.

Mr Johnson said, ‘My colleague, Karl Henlin, and I felt privileged to share in some of the events planned by the Baptist Union and BMS in the United Kingdom to mark the bicentenary of the partnership between British and Jamaican Baptists.

‘It was for me a time of great moment and pause. In an age blinded by the disease of ‘now-ness’ I couldn’t help but be struck again by the reminder that life doesn’t begin and/nor end with us. It challenged me anew to be thankful for those upon whose shoulders we now stand and to be ready to provide our shoulders for others to do so in the future.’

‘The visit of the JBU team was very special,’ added Mary Taylor, a Regional Minister in the Yorkshire Baptist Association. ‘We experienced the joy of genuine friendship and partnership.’

‘It also opened deeper questions about what equality truly means, why we can’t just bury the past but have to acknowledge and repent of its continuing effects today.’

The bicentenary celebrations continue in 2015, when a British delegation will attend the Jamaican Baptist Union Assembly.


To listen to the Radio 4 service on BBC iPlayer, visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04p5m1c

Baptist Times, 19/11/2014
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