The annual gathering of Baptists (well the BUGB part) starts today in Blackpool.
Getting the tone right will be more of a challenge than usual.
The last few months we have seen the painful process of redundancy for some BUGB staff and the start of changes resulting from the Futures process; including the replacement of the General Secretary. All of which is a bit unsettling (to say the least).
Yet gathering together is a statement of identity. An identity that is far more than staff and structures, offices and charitable bodies. An identity of churches, ministers and others joined in relationship together; for worship, mission and support. Against this background there are reasons for hope and encouragement which need to find expression.
Assembly is also the Annual General Meeting for BMS: world mission. Whose own needs, successes and challenges differ from BUGB. Any sense of ‘we are all doomed’ will not help them. [In any case we are not doomed, we are being pruned].
Overall I’m expecting a bit of soul searching, introspection and uncertainty around the edges mixed the usual enthusiasm and encouragements from the main events. This is not an occasion for 'a good time was had by all' but if it is evidence of the Union pulling together, committed to a shared future, it will have served its purpose well.
I’m not intending to blog much during assembly, but you can follow it on Twitter (my tweets appear on the right hand side bar).