BUGB Council – The Emperor’s new clothes

Those not interested in BUGB Council detail look away now!

Sometimes denominational life is frustrating for reasons you can’t exactly put your finger on.  But as we’ve spent the last day talking some of the reason for this has become clearer to me.

The institution has a life of its own. I’m told that I shouldn’t refer to the Union’s current financial situation as a crisis because it sends unhelpful messages. But who is it that makes that call? The answer is it emerges from some smoke filled room that no one thinks they are in on.  So good people contribute to the life of the denomination but most feel some frustration. Yet I'm also part of the institution, I know how to work a white middle class old boys nextwork, so if I feel frustrated what does it feel like to others?

The institution defines the whole. Because the system has developed over a long period of time it has a culture of working and processing things. As a result things arrive at Council in a linear format; do you prefer x or y. Well actually I don’t want to ask that question. Yesterday we spent another hour discussing the shape and format of Council; yes I think Council needs reform but actually I think the proposals are wrong. But more than that this is the wrong answer to the wrong question at the wrong time. Council should kick it out but I would place money (if I were a betting person) that the wording will be changed so that Council approves the measure before it ends.

We need to think of life after the institution.

There is a lot more to be said and when I've thought how to express it I'll repost some of this. But now I’m off to try and be more positive, stop being so grumpy and see if I can make a contribution to today!

One thought on “BUGB Council – The Emperor’s new clothes

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  1. This summer a number of us callenged the Union’s senior management team to publish agendas for forthcoming Council meetings. Those for the General Synod of the Church of England and the Council and Conference of the Methodist Church are public access documents, available from their websites. But the agenda for BUGB Council – our policy making body – is not published.

    The request for this to be made freely available was referred to Council’s Agenda Committee which “greeted it warmly” and committed to publishing parts of the agenda in time for the current Council meeting. Sadly, this commitment was not honoured owing to pressure of other work and because it needed to be putting into “an interesting format” for public consumption. After a challenge, the agenda was emailed to me.

    I do not doubt the good faith of any of those on BU Council but there is something about this aspect of the way our Baptist family conducts its business that makes me very uneasy. A very small, closeknit group of people make decisions in closed session on the basis of an agenda that has not previously been released to the rest of us. We receive a sanitised summary of business transacted in the BT (but not for much longer!). It all seems very safe and a thousand miles away from the people in my congregation. Appointment to Council is in some cases by patronage of those already on it. Not very Baptist, is it?

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