Following my blog on Monday about Baptist Assembly I’ve now read a number of other blogs; so to add to the conversation here is my take on some of the issues raised (the issues surround the Futures process BMS/BUGB I will return to in a future post).
1. Quality of the Bookshop should be easy to sort out – Essential Christian are part of Memralife the group who own Spring Harvest and ICC – all it needs is a conversation.
2. Outside Speakers – I’ve argued in previous years that we need to grow Baptists; not just for the sake of Assembly but because giving more opportunity for Baptist Preachers to grow is also a contribution to wider UK church life. Nevertheless we also need to hear global voices and to receive input from wider church.
3. Worship Leaders – I’ve blogged at length in previous years about the need for excellence and variety. But we also need to decide who Assembly aimed at. The last 2 years have included Sunday communion with a different worship style, to positive comments. However, the style would be utterly incomprehensible to many people in our local churches.
4. Cost of Assembly in London. Having done the expenses and compared accommodation / food / travel costs with previous two years. This year cost us less than the two previous ones (Plymouth 2010 most expensive, Blackpool 2011 was cheap because we live in the North West). Even if we had paid for an extra night’s accommodation it would have been similar to Blackpool.
5. Doing different. One reason for a London Assembly is the opportunity it gives for a different feel; allowing more London area Baptist Churches, who often feel excluded from Union life, to be more involved. If this was the objective I think it failed but it was worth a try.
Overall it did feel that some of the progress made in recent years has been lost. But right now there are bigger issues for the Union and if we need to accept a less than perfect Assembly in order to devote attention to them, so be it.