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Baptist Steering Group - September 2019

OverProject 19

'What is God saying, what will I do? and who needs to hear?’

It was good for some of our leaders to connect and spend time together at High Leigh this week in various combinations; the National Settlement Team, Regional Minister Team Leaders, the Baptist Steering Group with All Team Leaders and BUGB Trustees.  Here are the key communications from the BSG/ATL/Trustees meeting.

Alastair Mitchell-Baker, the Moderator of the BUGB Trustees led us in our opening worship and prayer and shared about a number of passages from the Old and New Testament where the people of God cross water.  From the crossing of the Red Sea and the crossing of the Jordan, to Peter walking on the water in Matthew 14.  Whether driven by fear, promise or call those involved experienced the power of God in new ways that deepened their faith. 

One of our key areas of shared work across Baptists Together is investing in Godly leadership and we devoted a significant amount of our time to considering this area.  At a practical level we had the opportunity to review the decision that we had made about supporting new ministerial students at Spurgeon’s College who were eligible for student finance but unable to do so due to exceptional circumstances.  Overall, it was felt that this was a really good example of our ‘feel like one team’ value as the wider Baptist family was able to play its part in enabling a cohort of ministerial students to continue to respond to God’s call and begin their formation.  We went on to have a separate but related conversation about the strategic importance for us as a movement to be investing in Godly leadership for the future.  We recognised that the Ignite report had gone some way towards addressing this but that there was more work that needed to be done to explore new ways for funding formation for the leaders God is calling now and in the future.  We agreed that Council should be given the opportunity to shape our thinking in this important area in November.

We felt that we made a definite step forward in our continuing reflections about our patterns of relating across Baptists Together and particularly the role and composition of BSG.  Drawing on insights from Brian Sanders book, ‘Underground Church’ we began to explore the reality that we are an historic grass-roots movement of churches that now has to live in a world of charity compliance.  We began to think more intentionally about the ways in which we relate as “movement” and the ways that we relate as “charity” and to see how this might give permission for both the wonderful “chaos” of movement and the beautiful “order” of charity to co-exist in creative tension.  Taking everyone’s input and working out what these ideas mean practically for us is my next task!

A collaboration between The Fuelcast, The South West Baptist Association and The Faith & Society Specialist Team has resulted in a great video sharing the story and vision of Ilfracombe Baptist Church.  There is so much potential here and we would love to resource a community missioner through Baptists Together Home Mission. We enjoyed watching the, not quite finalised, video and are looking forward to seeing the social media length edits soon so watch out for this! 

Screenshot 2019-09-20 at 12.34
Image: Still from the upcoming Baptists Together Home Mission video

The Fuelcast is a group of Baptists who produce a devotional video each weekday.  

For the last five years Baptists Together have been partnering with sister Unions in Europe through the European Baptist Federation’s Mission Partnerships programme.  The Mission Partnership programme provides funding for suitably gifted people to work as evangelists and church planters in their own countries.  By working together as Baptists across Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia the MP during the past 17 years has helped about 230 church starters in the initial five years of their ministry and thanks to their work at least than 13 thousand people have become members of new planted congregations.   We have been supporting Nabil Karam in Egypt and Atilla Varga in Hungary and they are now finishing with the Mission Partnership programme.  We recognised the mutual value in these Kingdom partnerships and so agreed to commit to new partners for a further five years.

Trustees were very pleased to approve our witness statement as a core participant in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). We aim for excellence in safeguarding and have chosen to be a part of IICSA to ensure that our policies and practices in this crucial area are as good as they can possibly be. The statement provides the enquiry with extensive detail about how safeguarding is managed across Baptists Together. As part of our submission we requested that changes are made to the law to ensure that ministers and other church workers who have responsibilities for children and young people are included in the position of trust category. We agreed to make the same request to the All-Party Parliamentary Group which is looking at the question of positions of trust in the faith sector. By doing this we hope to better protect 16 and 17 year olds in our churches.

It was good to receive feedback from every Regional Association outlining how your Baptists Together Home Mission giving is being invested and the many churches, pioneers and projects up and down the country that are being made possible by your generosity.  Just reading through these key communications reminds us all just how “the fields are white for harvest” and the huge opportunities for mission that there are. So, it was with a sense of lament that we noted that giving to Baptists Together Home Mission is not only down against budget, but, more significantly, is down against last year too at the moment. Please join us as we continue to pray that the Lord will release the resources that we need to fulfil the call that he has given us. On the final day Philip Lutterodt led us in prayer and a picture was shared… 

“When praying about our financial challenges and the biblical call for generosity, I was reminded of a time when we were walking in Cornwall when we saw a stream which flows over a cliff which due to the strong wind it appeared to be flowing in the opposite direction, up the hill. In this time of prayer there was a sense that the Lord was saying that the tide was turning.”

The latest edition of the Baptists Together magazine explains how Baptists Together Home Mission works and the difference that your giving is making in so many lives and communities.

While we were together, we prayed for our churches, our Union and BMS as we continue to participate in God’s mission.  Please join with us in praying that we will be renewed each day by God’s Holy Spirit and that we will have faith and tenacity in the face of the discouragements, challenges and opposition that we face.  May the Lord nurture in us a deeper trust in Him; that He goes before us and leads us towards His coming Kingdom.

Lynn Green
September 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.

BUGB Trustees must ensure that BSG fulfils the broad strategic direction set by Council and that Council and BSG together remain accountable to the churches and true to governing documents and other agreements.  The BUGB Trustees must also ensure that BUGB as a charity remains financially sound as a going concern, manages risk, meets the requirement of the law and regulatory bodies, and meets high standards as an employer. The BUGB Trustees must ensure that those taking on roles for the BUGB are fully aware of the extent and limits of their role and are properly inducted and trained for their role.

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