300 year anniversary for Baptist fund
A redistributive Baptist fund that existed long before Home Mission marked its 300th anniversary in 2017
The Particular Baptist Fund PBF was set up by six London Particular Baptist Churches in 1717 to improve ministers’ theological education and to help support them financially.
The Fund continues to exist, and its main areas of interest remain the education and financial support of those in full time pastoral ministry.
In 1717 Particular Baptist Churches were a distinct grouping from General Baptists.
Particular Baptists followed the Reformation teaching that salvation is from start to finish God’s work. They taught that Christ died for individuals in particular whereas General Baptists said that Christ died for humanity in general, leaving it to individuals to opt into such a salvation. General Baptists said we chose to accept God’s offer of salvation, whereas Particular Baptists said that God chooses and draws us to Christ.
The fund has continued to support Baptist churches who hold this view, which means, unusually, it serves Baptist Union, Grace Baptist church and independent Baptist church constituencies. It is the only UK organisation to unite these groupings in a common project.
Its membership comprises around 25 churches in London and the Home Counties. Member churches give a fixed sum each year to the Fund.
Today the PBF divides grants between mission, education (both for individuals and institutions) and benevolent purposes (retired full time pastors and their widows who are on a low income may apply for grants).
Interest free loans are also available for extensions, improvements or new purchases of church buildings or manses.
To mark the anniversary a history of the PBF was commissioned. Money, Mission, and Ministry was authored by Dr Tim Grass, a research fellow at Spurgeon’s College, documenting how the Fund came about and how it developed.
He said researching the book provided a ‘fascinating insight’ into Baptist church life. ‘There were reports by managers of the fund during the 19th century on their deputation trips to various parts of the country – it showed how rural folk were sometimes perceived in London!’
Tim was also struck by the extent of its concern for Baptist work in Wales, something which still continues, as well as the ability of people from a range of persuasions to work together.
‘It also demonstrated that what they used to call 'an educated ministry', had, and arguably still has, a key role to play in church renewal,’ Tim continued.
‘And the research convinced me that money isn't an unspiritual thing to talk about, or to handle carefully and strategically: it’s something which can enable a far-sighted approach to mission and ministry.’
Money, Mission, and Ministry has been reviewed for The Baptist Times by regional minister Stephen Copson, himself a recipient of a book token from the PBF on leaving college. He described the PBF as ‘a tale of classic Baptist voluntarism where the better resourced offered support where needs were identified.’ Read Stephen’s review here.