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July 2022

 

PensionsRe:  2022 Buy-In and Reduced Deficit Contributions - Pension Scheme

This is a day to celebrate and be thankful to God that our prayers and subsequent actions have brought us to the point where the pension deficit has been eradicated and pensions under the Defined Benefits Scheme are now secure for the future.

Remember the 'Family Solution'? At the end of December 2015 the pension deficit was £105 million and in early 2016 the 'Baptist Pension Scheme Employers Group' (BPSEG) was formed whose main aim was to try to bring to an end the financial burden on our churches and also to protect the pensions for current and future retirees - no small task!

The BPSEG quickly formed the opinion that no one part of the Baptist family could cope with delivering a solution, that actually it needed a family solution that supported what the churches were already doing paying extra contributions to the DB Scheme. Hence, the BPSEG sought help from every part of our family, the Union based at Didcot, every Association, every College and the Retired Baptist Minister's Housing Society.

By July 2018 just two years after the BPSEG began its work, we reached agreement for the release of £33.5M cash from across the family injected into the DB Scheme. Whilst the lump sum didn't bring down the deficit to zero, what it did achieve was to help the Scheme trustees to change their investment strategy to take as much risk off the table as possible and thereby reduce the deficit. You may recall that even then we thought it would take 10 years to completely eradicate the deficit. However, it is wonderful news that just 4 years on from 2018 we have reached the point where deficit pension contributions (except for £1 per month) will be a thing of the past.

On a quick calculation it means that for every church who has a minister in the DB Scheme and currently paying deficit pension contributions there will be a saving of £2,970 per year based upon the current Home Mission Stipend. Much needed saving given the rise in energy costs and cost of living increases.

As the former moderator of the BPSEG may I thank every part of our Baptist family for making this happen, it's truly awesome and inspiring that when we come together as a family all things are possible.

I hope you will forgive me if I raise with you another challenge that relates to Home Mission. When I became the Union Treasurer in 2008 I asked all our churches to give, 'at least 5% of the church's annual general fund income to Home Mission'. My own church has kept faith with that call as have many others for which as a Union we are very grateful. But many of you will know that sadly giving to Home Mission has been slowly declining for a number of years now and that is putting at risk our support for churches who need Home Mission grants, for paid ministry, for pioneering work, for churches in decline to be re-imagined and much more.

So, let's support John Levick's request to use 25 per cent of the savings in Deficit Contribution Savings to increase our giving to Home Mission. Let's also include not just churches but Associations and Colleges too. Call it the 'Family Opportunity' to be a thankful people that has had the burden of pension deficit contributions lifted for good. I am constantly reminded from the verse in Matthew 19: 26 “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible".

Retain 75 per cent of the savings for coping with your own financial pressures and mission work with your own communities and beyond. Later this year I will be delivering trustee and treasurer training in six locations within the South West Baptist Association giving a helping hand to those who have responsibilities for trusteeship and finance. It's another way of being 'family' towards one another. We have proved; rather you have proved that when we act as one any manner of opportunities and possibilities open up before us.

So, support this 'Family Opportunity' to help fund the important work that Home Mission does for all of us and in the meantime thank God in your prayers for what was once a crisis in the pension scheme is now no longer the case - thanks be to God!
Malcolm Broad MBE
(Malcolm is a director of the Baptist Insurance Company plc, treasurer of the Bristol Baptist College and former treasurer of the Baptist Union of Great Britain)


Praise God, excellent news from the Leaders of WBBC
Sarah Thomas (via Facebook)

Us deacons at GLBC are very pleased. Praise the Lord!
Minerva Stewart (via Facebook)
 



Counter cultural800Re: Following the Zeitgeist

Michael Shaw's article raises some very interesting points.  It prompts me to recall J B Phillip's translation of Romans 12.2, "Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould but let God remould your minds from within".

Conversion, properly understood, surely affects every department of our lives; not only those concerned with personal morality (though, of course, it does), but, as Pastor Shaw hints, also our attitudes and actions concerning the great social and political issues of our day, such as the equitable distribution of wealth, housing, welfare, food, and education, also personal issues with social implications, abortion, marriage, divorce, and gambling for instance.

Once one begins to think about these things so many issues spring to mind: where ought I to place my investments (should I be fortunate enough to be able to make any), what should I grow in my garden (or window box),  should I offer my unused spare bedroom to a refugee family.  The list is virtually endless.

Being a Christian involves a complete and radical change; career, finances, relationships and much, much more, all are affected.  For "if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Saviour], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life]." (2 Cor 5.17 Amp).

Follow Christ or the zeitgeist: this is the challenge in these days.  There are still two contrasted ways, the broad, taken by the majority, or the narrow, which only a few find and follow; the broad and easy zeitgeist, or the narrow and often difficulty way of the Saviour.  We are confronted by the choice every day in a myriad of guises.  May we be careful to follow the "old paths" of the saints.
Michael Kemp

 



DiversityRe: A Theology of Unity in Diversity

We are a broad church with a diversity of opinions all united by an unwavering belief in the gift of scripture, the truth of salvation by faith/grace not works and the fact that we have discernment by having the mind of Christ. I am happy to worship with 'conservative evangelicals' and with my 'liberal' brothers and sisters. I value the continued development of my understanding by further study of the scriptures and listening to my fellow Christians. I hope to join friends in Allerton soon as we continue our exploration.
John Mellor (via Facebook)

Sounds suspiciously like an attempt to prepare folk for future awful decisions by Council and Steering Group. Let’s remain faithful to God’s Word as He has revealed it to us in the Scriptures. They continue to apply just the same to all of us.
Fred Rich (via Facebook)

Fred Rich, which sounds awfully like someone ignoring the concept of unity with disagreement.
Alastair Middlemist (via Facebook)

Hmm, some of the reactions suggest the paper is achieving the opposite of what it intended …
That said the paper is ambiguous about what is diversity and what is sin; it could be read as encouraging unity in diversity between cannibals and vegans. So it’s theology looks good, but it’s focus isn’t defined clearly enough.
Neil Douglas (via Facebook)

I appreciate this article but almost wish it was phrased the other way around - a theology of diversity in unity. Across denominations, nationalities, and a range of experiences and opinions we are one in Christ. The challenge is in seeing the differences as part of the plan not just part of the problem.
Peter Brassington (via Facebook)

Thanks for this! Those who are made anxious by the paper should check out its author!
I'd add a more revolutionary fourth category: Pentecostal inclusion. The rules of the Temple excluded from the inner court all people who were not physically perfect Jewish men.

The life and teaching of Jesus broke down all those exclusions, being a prophetic act against the notion that anyone is 'unclean or defiled' (Acts 10:28). Pentecost, far from reversing the curse of Babel, embraces 'all flesh' as God's Spirit is poured out on all, who now praise God in every language. The council of Jerusalem determines that it is the filling of the Holy Spirit, not adherence to religious tribe, law or doctrine, that provides evidence of who is 'in Christ'. While Jesus condemns judging, he encourages us to look for the fruit of the Spirit.

What if religious people have, on occasion, been obsessed with what is normal, yet the extraordinary is part of God's intention for creation as the paper suggests?
Simon Hall (via Facebook)

Thank you for sharing this. Much appreciated.
Catriona Gorton (via Facebook)

 



Andy Hughes 800 2Re: Ministries Team Leader Andy Hughes to join RBMHO

Andy, you have held so much of the deep - and dark and difficult - side of our covenantal relating. We’re so grateful to have had you in this role. Your calm wisdom, your constancy, your gentle kindness and quiet confidence have been a gift to us. So many prayers for what is next - may it contain rest, renewal, and much rejoicing.
Beth Allison-Glenny (via Facebook)

Thank you Andy, no one I’m sure will ever fully know all that you have done and had to do. Big blessings.
Pete Everitt (via Facebook)

 



Ecumenical Chaplaincy St AlbanRe: Book Review The Ecumenical Chaplaincy of St Albans Cathedral

I was saddened to read this review because the reviewer had not understood why the book had been written. It was never intended to be a scholarly  analysis of Ecumenism per se but simply an account of the Ecumenical Chaplaincy of St Albans Cathedral.

Pam wrote this as a lecture which she was obliged to give in order to qualify as a guide at the cathedral. Those of us who were interviewed  persuaded Pam to write it for the cathedral archives and to publish it as a book when we realised how many of the people involved in the Ecumenical Chaplaincy had died (including my own husband) how many of those remaining were losing their memories and we feared these stories would be lost forever. It was not written as a dedication to Pam's husband as he was still alive when she wrote it and sadly died before it was published.

I don't think the views in the book are Pam's, rather they are a collection of memories related to her by the people in the Abbey which is how St Albans Cathedral is known locally. You may be surprised to know that we in the Abbey are very proud of our Ecumenical Chaplaincy . We certainly weathered a lot of storms to get it established but we are not mavericks and never break rules. Of course church unity would be wonderful but for the time being , we at the Abbey , are very pleased that we have found a way whereby we can coexist and live together in harmony. 
Mary Minton

 



Re: 'My heart is to encourage Christians in their daily walk with God' 
The Pilgrim Way800An excellent book
Vanessa Appleton (via Facebook)



 



 

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State matters
Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022)
Fresh Streams leadership statement following summer theology school
Response to Pension Scheme news; Following the Zeitgeist; A Theology of Unity in Diversity
Annual review; walking club; Rwanda
The Queen; does Jesus heal today?; Child Q
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