Back from the annual Baptist trip to the seaside which was an
excellent weekend. Here are my highpoints.
Three good things:
- Worship. This year was an enormous improvement. The range
of resources from Taize, Northumbria
Community, traditional hymns and mainstream worship songs were used in well
planned acts of worship. Whilst I would change the balance of different styles we
are on the right track.
- Normal voices. It was good to see Assembly including many
sessions led by ‘normal’ Baptist ministers. Some of this was brought about by
the untimely death of incoming president Roger Martin but the diversity of
speakers is welcome.
- Deliberations. It was good to see intentional space given
to corporate discernment; listening to each other and reflecting on what God
might be saying. There were a couple of new ventures (appointing listeners and
including reflections from the floor in the public resolutions session) which I
hope will be developed in the future.
Two personal highlights:
- Ruth Neve and Tony Peck leading worship on Saturday
- Anne Wilkinson-Hayes speaking on Sunday morning
- Most weeks I preach with pictures on the screen and it
seems odd watching people who don’t, especially since there is a good sized
screen and a great technical support team.
- Public resolutions are always tricky but the danger with
wide ranging resolutions is they simply ask assembly to vote against sin rather
than get to the heart of an issue.
- I recognise that the phrase ‘baptist family’ is in vogue
but surely there must be a better term?
All in all an encouraging weekend. It felt good to be part
of the Baptist Union and I continue to be impressed by BMS:world mission and
the work it does.
Encouraged too Neil. Highlights for me included: –
1. A Welcome to “ecumenical gits…” by our glorious leader
2. Tony Peck and Paul Merton dressed like members of a classical boy band on Saturday evening!
3. Despite references to “dear ladies”, a better use of inclusive language, and a broader range of prayers.
Worries include: –
1. Lack of breadth of worship vocabulary within sessions. Why have we gradually gone back to a situation we had tried to leave behind where worship became compartmentalised?
2. The standard of musicianship and leadership of sung worship was not always of the highesst quality – occasionally it seemed like we were enagaging in community singing!
But hat tips to Ruth Bottoms and Chris Ellis – their work behind the scenes was noticed, and helped drag the worship up from the abismally low standard of the last two years…