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Baptist Steering Group - January 2019

In the face of warnings of snow we gathered as The Baptist Steering Group (BSG) and All Team Leaders (ATLs) at Windmill Farm once again.  The promised snow did not come but we were greeted by an amazing frost on Thursday morning!

BSGJan19FrostOur worship and prayer was led by Beth Powney (Regional Minister, Team Leader for the Eastern Baptist Association).  From Luke chapters one and two, we listened and prayed into Mary’s song (verses 46-55), Zechariah’s song (vss.67-79) and finally Anna’s witness (2:36-38).  Our prayers included intercessions for our world, our nation, our churches and our leaders.

Following Council’s decision that Partnerships were not, in practice, a part of our formal governance structures, BUGB Trustees were asked to consider the composition of a BSG in the future.  As part of the Trustees exploration, Alastair Mitchell Baker (Moderator, BUGB Trustee Board) came to ATLs and he facilitated discussion and reflection about the conversations relating to governance that we have shared in recent years and listened to ATLs thoughts about the issues underlying our sense of being 'stuck'.  From his background in organisational consultancy, Alastair suggested that a helpful way forward might be to explore the 'eco-system' approach to our relating across Baptist Together and this suggestion was warmly received.

At this gathering BSG spent some extended time with the Core Team from the Baptists Together Mission Forum and we were encouraged to hear more about the strategic investment in missional initiatives such as Renew Wellbeing, Together Free, The Listening Project, Missional Adventure web portal, Susan Myatt (our first deaf Baptist Minister), Firestarters, Reimagine, mission & Millennials and developing further accredited ministry formation opportunities for those called to pioneering.  It was also good to have more time and space to talk together about how we best inspire, connect and collaborate together for mission.

Council recently discerned a number of priorities that are important for us to focus our energy on in the next few years.  One of those areas was leadership and ministries development.  One aspect of this, and as part of the year of celebrations marking the centenary of ordained women’s ministry for Baptist Together, our Gender Justice Working Group and our Black and Minority Ethnic Women Ministers' Network have together crafted a proposal that we invest in a three year role to make progress and to overcome barriers towards greater equality in ministry between women and men in Baptist Life.  The proposal was unanimously affirmed for implementation.

BSGJan19SkypeMore details of our Baptist Assembly in May were shared, particularly the networking opportunities of the time on Saturday.  There is a very positive sense of anticipation for this year’s gathering and booking is now open.  BSG also agreed that we wanted to continue to encourage Millennials (18-35) to be part of Assembly and would again offer a number of free tickets that would be available via Regional Associations.

The most recent edition of our Baptists Together magazine (Spring 2019) has generated more feedback than any other; both positively and negatively.  At BSG we listened carefully to this feedback and recognised that the prayers at the back of the magazine, in particular, caused offence to some.  BSG asked the editorial group to reflect on this feedback and undertake a 'lessons learned' exercise with regard to the editorial process as a whole and report back.  BSG hoped that readers would not let their concerns detract from this very important issue of enabling women to identify and VisionGraphicbe released into God’s call for their lives.  The summer edition of the Magazine is already underway and will focus on stories that showcase our four key areas of work as Baptists Together: Pioneering and Planting, Equipping the local church for mission, Investing in Godly Leadership and Enabling Baptist voices and action in the public square.

Richard Wilson (Support Services Team Leader) updated BSG about the Home Mission Appeal for 2018 and our overall financial position.  The good news is that, when all income streams are taken into account, we ended the year with a surplus that will enable us to invest in additional initiatives in 2019.  We praise God for the generous and sacrificial giving that this represents by so many of our churches and we thank you!  The more challenging aspect of the 2018 figures is that our most significant income stream, Home Mission giving, continues to decline and was 3% down on 2017 after adjusting for inflation.  Whilst BSG recognise that there are complex issues underlying this decline and we continue to work through the impact of generational change from a bigger perspective, we agreed 2 practical, short term, initiatives for 2019.

Lynn Green
31 January 2019

The Revd Lynn Green is General Secretary of our Baptist Union

Baptist Steering Group offers collaborative leadership through co-ordinating the effective development and implementation of the broad strategy discerned by Council.

The purpose and role of All Team Leaders (Regional, College and Specialist) is to work together to develop and shape policies and plans to enable us to achieve our overall vision and strategy. 

The Accompanying Group to the Baptist Steering Group provides prayer support and shares in spiritual and missional reflection with them.

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