BUGB AGM at the Baptist Assembly
General Secretary Lynn Green highlighted church encouragements during the AGM, which included a series of resolutions relating to the Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB) becoming a CIO
‘I am so encouraged by what I see and I continue to believe that God is doing a new thing in our country,’ General Secretary Lynn Green told delegates during the Baptist Union AGM.
She said her role gives ‘the huge privilege’ of seeing something of what God is doing on a bigger scale – and proceeded to highlight five ways in which she is encouraged by Baptist churches.
Firstly, by all sorts of creative and innovative community engagement. Lynn highlighted Chelmund’s Fish and Chips as an example – the country’s first community-owned chip shop. Chelmsley Wood Baptist Church is working with other partners to create an ethical business that ploughs its profits back into the community. It was such a novelty when it opened earlier this year that it featured on the BBC's One Show.
Secondly, by churches exploring what it means to be authentic community. She mentioned The Table in Cardiff – a small Baptist church which had dispensed with its Sunday gathering to do church in a new way.
Thirdly, Lynn said she is inspired by all the churches that are ‘loving and serving those on the margins’. She highlighted All Nations Church in Plymouth, which set up a community meal for those who are homeless and destitute asylum seekers.
Fourthly, she is particularly seeing a renewed sense of churches working together, both across our network and also with other church streams and agencies. For this Lynn highlighted Chew Magna, which is one of four Baptist churches that historically had little relationship with each other. In the last two years the other three were left without pastors, and Chew’s minister John Miles brought the leadership teams together. He has witnessed surprising eagerness to change and old barriers gone. As they’ve begun to realise what their mission is, they’ve realised they can’t do it on their own. ‘People have seen they can do so much more together.’
Finally, Lynn is really encouraged by seeing growth and renewed passion for evangelism. The Beacon in Stafford is an example – a church which is 70 years old this year, and one that has seen a fivefold increase in attendance in five years. It now has nine congregations across four buildings.
She reminded delegates of the vision from Isaiah 43:18-19 that God had given her, adding, ‘I believe that God has said he will breathe fire on his church. Pentecost fire to renew and empower us.’ The closing celebration prayed into this.
Looking to 2018 and beyond, she said we have identified four areas that we believe are critical for us to invest in together as a movement of churches and missional communities.
Pioneering and planting
Equipping the local church for mission
Investing in Godly leaders
Enabling Baptist voices and action in the public square
Resolutions – Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and treasurer
The Baptist Union of Great Britain will become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation after delegates approved a series of resolutions during the BUGB AGM.
In introducing the resolutions Rich Webb, BUGB chair of trustees, said it was good to reflect on the CIO journey so far. The trustees had first started talking about it in late 2015. Since then advice has been taken from our solicitors, Anthony Collins, there has been reflection with Baptist Union Council and communication and consultation with churches. A proposal was brought to Assembly last year, where a resolution to prepare a draft constitution and to pursue the CIO route for the future was approved.
The reason why we are doing this is because the current BUGB legal entity ‘is not one that is fit for our size and type of organisation in the 21st century,’ Rich explained. Under the current constitution we cannot enter into contracts as a Union - they’re all done in the name of the trustees. Becoming a CIO would change this.
The resolutions, which can be found here, were all passed unanimously.
Assembly also voted that John Levick be reappointed treasurer of our Union.
After his reappointment as treasurer, John presented the finance report. He began by introducing our new-look annual report and accounts. ‘We have undertaken a radical revision so that it should present a clearer indication of what is going on as Baptists Together,’ John said. ‘I encourage you to read it and use individual pages to pray for and share what is going on across our family.’ The report can be found here.
Within the report are the financial results for 2017. Our total income was £6.36m, of which the largest contribution was Home Mission (£3.85m), ‘showing the importance of the funds you raise,’ said John. 2017 was also an exceptionally high year for legacies. John mentioned the new will-writing service being offered to Baptist churches (churches will receive more information about this in the coming weeks.)
Our expenditure totalled £6.03m, of which the largest figure (£3.53m) was passed to Associations for grants to churches and pioneering ministries and to help fund Association teams.
John also spoke about pensions, and the Family Solution which has been recently communicated to ministers and churches. The proposal seeks to substantially reduce the deficit, with deficit contributions due to finish in 2028, six and half years earlier than the original plan.
‘I want to put on record thanks to the Pension Employers Group, the Pension Trustees, and Bill Johnston, the chair of RBMHS, for their work which has enabled this progress to be made,’ said John.
General Secretary Lynn Green expressed her thanks to both John and Rich. Both have 'a passionate commitment to see disciples, churches and missional communities being Beacons of Hope in the places God has called them', she said.
Rich, who is coming to the end of his term as moderator, had been ‘God’s person for us at this time.’
‘We have really appreciated the dedication and skill in which you have led us through some challenging issues in recent years,’ she said. She added that we are still seeking to discern Rich’s successor.