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Baptist Steering Group – January 2016

General Secretary Lynn Green shares key messages from the January gathering of the Baptist Steering Group 

We met in London on this occasion and Alex Afriyie led our worship and prayer. We began by worshipping the Lord and praising Him for our salvation, "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4&5)
Throughout our time together we were aware of a deeper sense of how all the threads of our life and work as Baptists Together are expressing our desire to be "Growing healthy churches in relationship for God's mission" and the importance of our unity in the midst of that.
We had the privilege of meeting with Kumar Rajagopalan and David Shosanya from the London Baptist Association (LBA) regional team, who also brought with them three ministers from local churches; Rev Neemias Antonio (Harlington BC), Rev Angela Bacon (Rayleigh Park BC) and Rev Dave Mann (Bonny Downs & Britannia Village BC). It is difficult to put into words just how inspiring it was to listen to them share how they had each enabled small fellowships to grow and be fruitful for God's Kingdom in different ways.  We were particularly struck by how each one had "favour" and great respect in their local communities.  We also heard the vulnerability of such pioneering ministry and the need for strong support.  Watch out for their stories on our Union's website! It was great to find out more about how the LBA is supporting and releasing mission and provoking radical change in the process.
Using some of the initial statistics from the Fit4Mission survey, we spent time praying for our churches: churches that are growing, churches that are stable and churches that are in decline.
We had a very productive session planning for Baptist Union Council (15-16 March 2016) where we will be considering again the response of Baptists to the Same Sex Marriage Act as we come to the end of our two years of conversation. Through some good and methodical teamwork we were able to identify a process that we pray will enable us to engage with the key questions that this legislation raises for us as Baptists.  Please join us in praying that both the manner in which we engage with this, and the direction that we discern at Council, will bring glory to Jesus Christ.
BSG listened carefully to feedback that had already been received with regard to the Ignite report. It was shared that there had been over 1,000 hits on the website page, that 18 responses had been made through the Ignite email address (ignite@baptist.org.uk) and that the report was stimulating discussion and reflection amongst ministers and churches.  We agreed that we needed to re-emphasise the request for feedback on the "Marks of Ministry" in particular as a priority.  
We welcomed Rob Poole, our new Interim Finance Director, to his first BSG meeting, who gave the following reflection, “I found BSG to be a very positive experience.  There was a real sense of fellowship and support. The agenda was worked through with focus and pace, with issues being approached in a collaborative and constructive manner. The prayer times throughout the two days were very helpful and I found the meeting with local ministers to be both a humbling and inspiring experience.” 

In the light of the fact that 2017 will be the third year of the existing "3 year formula" for Association funding we decided that we needed to be proactive in seeking Associations' views about the current formula and also to identify if there will be any particular difficulties ahead that we need to be aware of.  The need to take time and care in planning for 2018 onwards was also identified and conversations will be initiated in the near future. 

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