Baptist Assembly 2015 opens
Toilet rolls, pies and the introduction of the new President of our Baptist Union all had their place in a packed opening session of this year’s Baptist Assembly
The one-day gathering at the Kingsgate Centre in Peterborough was very much an intergenerational one, and soon featured Ed Jones of Arise Ministries. ‘Today is all about gathering as a family from the youngest to the oldest,’ he said, ‘having fun and worshipping God together.’
To emphasise this he invited three regional ministers onto the stage and asked them to place a toilet roll on their heads - and unroll it as quickly as possible. The two slowest (Geoff Colmer and Nick Lear) subsequently received a cream pie in the face from the quickest (Ellen Price) for their troubles.
It was an entertaining start to an event that had a family feel in more ways than one, with a shared picnic and the dedicated children’s programme only beginning at 4pm.
The day was hosted by Chantelle Baker of BMS World Mission and Seidel Boanerges of Rosebery Park Baptist Church in Bournemouth (pictured), who invited delegates to share where they'd come from: all 13 Associations were represented, plus folk from the Baptist Unions of Scotland and Wales. Music was led by the band Taste.
David Kerrigan and Lynn Green both took to the stage during the opening session. David, General Director of BMS World Mission, said it was important that Baptists had travelled from across the UK to be here.
‘It reinforces this sense that when we move away we don’t go as individuals but as a team. Coming to Assembly is a reminder that we are better together.’
This togetherness was reflected in two prayer crosses that had been released during last year’s Assembly and had subsequently travelled round our Union before coming back to the 2015 gathering.
The Bible reading focused on the story of Zacchaeus in Luke and was conducted in an Open The Book
-style by children and adults from Wokingham Baptist Church (complete with inflatable palm tree and a step ladder).
The drama was followed by a thought-provoking video featuring five short reflections on the story
, including Chris Duffett, Jacky Bone a minister and chaplain at a YMCA, Chris Rose, a youth worker at Chatsworth Baptist Church, Glen Marshall, co-Principal of Northern Baptist College, and Mark Madavan, Senior Minister of Locks Heath Free Church, Hampshire.
Following the video Lynn thanked Chris Ellis for his presidential year, before introducing Chris’s successor, the Jenni Entrican. Reflecting the changed nature of this year’s Assembly, her presidential address was five minutes, as opposed to 25.
‘Those who know me well and know the length of my sermons, will be laughing at this point,’ she said. Nevertheless she succinctly introduced the Daring Greatly theme of the presidency, inviting others to have the courage to be real, to step outside the box and to follow Jesus.’ (Click here for more on Jenni’s address
Several colleagues then laid hands on and prayer for Jenni following her address, including Lynn, Chris Ellis, David Mayne, Ruth Gouldbourne, David Kerrigan and Andy Grice.
Jenni then led delegates through a Communion liturgy, before sending them out to picnic together in the centre’s grounds and share Communion in small groups in what was called the Big Picnic.