Induction, recognition, In Memoriam
Ministers and mission personnel were recognised and prayed for on a packed Assembly Saturday night that had a focus on those in leadership positions
The session also saw the induction of Ken Benjamin as our new President and an introduction to his theme ‘Where do we grow from here?’; Lisa Holmes, senior minister of Skipton Baptist Church, gave the main address; and Steve Sanderson profiled indigenous workers in three areas of the world where BMS World Mission is working. The In Memoriam also took place in this session to honour the ministers and mission personnel who have died in the last year. Worship was led by Dave Ellis, a regional minister in the Heart of England Baptist Association, and his band.
Induction of President
The evening began with the induction of Ken as our new President. The calling of our President is something we all participate in, said General Secretary Lynn Green through the nomination and voting process. The President serves for one year, and helps us focus on our vision. The President also offers spiritual wisdom and is ‘a symbol of our unity as Baptists Together’.
Before calling Ken, Lynn thanked outgoing President Dave Gregory, of Croxley Green Baptist Church.
‘Dave has brought so much encouragement and challenge with his theme Divine Windows,’ Lynn said. He had been so ‘wise and insightful’ and ‘prayerful and supportive’ during his year of visiting local churches and serving on Baptist Union Council and alongside the Baptist Steering Group.
Dave was invited to share his reflections during the AGM on Sunday morning.
Ken has been senior minister of Chichester Baptist Church for 22 years, and is passionate about seeing people ‘flourish as followers of Jesus’, Lynn told delegates.
During his induction Ken was asked a number of commissioning questions, after which he briefly introduced his Presidential theme ‘Where do we grow from here’. He explained this related to our overall vision as Baptists Together of ‘Growing healthy churches in relationship for God’s mission.’ He would like as many churches and ministers as possible to engage with it. Read more about his theme here.
Ken, who also spoke of the 'huge privilege of serving Baptists Together as President, was prayed for by his children and Ellen Wild, his co-minister at Chichester Baptist Church.
BMS - new mission work
Steve Sanderson of BMS World Mission profiled local workers in three parts of the world where BMS operates. For every BMS worker we send overseas, Steve said, we have approximately double that in indigenous workers.
He highlighted Rula Mansour, an Arab Israeli Baptist state prosecutor. Rula has emerged as ‘someone who brings incredible insight into reconciliation’, in a part of the world that is desperately divided. She’s a female leader in the Middle East.
Kalbassou Dalbassou is the director of the Guinebor II (G2) Hospital in Chad. It’s great to see an African leader, said Steve – Kalbassou is gentle and authoritative: when he speaks, people listen. He has an extraordinary capacity to work – a recent average day saw him perform 12 back to back surgeries. He is a man of great integrity – he loves his family and his deceased brother’s children. He’s also an 'extraordinary evangelist – in a determined and winsome way he will not miss an opportunity to talk about the saving grace of Jesus.'
Gillian Francis was the third person to be profiled, and she was actually at the event. Gillian works alongside BIGLife, the church planting movement in India. People will see Ben Francis at the front, but they won’t see the administration that helps sustain the movement, Steve said – and Gillian has a key role in this. After being invited to the stage, Gillian explained that it’s ‘not easy handling 22,000 churches.’ She does this through a system of zonal and regional leaders.
She spoke of increasing persecution in Indian villages – and requested prayer for God’s protection, as well as for the ministry of women.
Ministers and mission personnel who have died in the last year were remembered in a part of the evening that 'brings mixed emotions,' said Robert Ashurst, a BMS trustee. 'In respect of each one we give thanks to God for their life and faithfulness for their service in his kingdom.
'We also recognise the pain of loss, and acknowledge our own frailty.'
A video of the names was played, before Robert led delegates in prayer.
Recognition of ministers and mission personnel
Following the address by Lisa Holmes, in which she encouraged delegates to keep running the race, ministers and mission personnel were recognised and prayed for. 'This is always a holy ground moment,' said Lynn Green. 'We want to welcome and commission and pray for them.'
Lynn and Kang-San read out the names of those who have now fully transferred to the accredited list as Fully Accredited Ministers, Pastors, Preachers and Mission Personnel, and each was invited to take a position at the front of the stage. (The mission personnel are all now in the countries they have been called to serve, and their photos were shown on the main screen).
Delegates were invited to promise their prayerful support for these brothers and sisters, before those being commissioned were invited to make a series of commitments. Ken Benjamin then prayed for them, before they received handshakes from Lynn, Kang-San and Ken.