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voices from


Voices from Baptist Assembly 2022

 

Listening Board

Those in Bournemouth, where the Assembly was held, could contribute to a listening board stationed in the network zone. Erica Bowler, a Baptist minister and missional listener in Purfleet, served as an intentional listener at the stand. She collated the notes and grouped them into different themes:

Mission
‘Engaging with people ‘in the world’ who don’t see the need for God’

‘How can we effectively share Jesus and see more people following him?’
‘Thank you for funding pioneer work - please use any spare monies to forward pioneering’

‘How do you enable gifted people in the congregation to be released to where the unchurched are and not be over burdened by internal roles?’


‘Mission was the biggest topic people wanted to discuss,’ Erica writes. ‘There were fundamental questions about mission and how to do it, alongside practical questions about how to finance mission, how pioneers and emerging projects can feel supported, and how churches can act together to create strategy and support.’

Same sex marriage and same sex relationships
‘How do we hold authentic and open conversation around LGTB+ inclusion without weighting either side and honouring different views/outcomes?’

‘Many people were just confused,’ writes Erica. ‘Everyone knows someone who is affected, but they don’t know how to have the conversation as a church. Most people who hold a traditional view of marriage didn’t want to put it on the board and were feeling silenced at the Assembly. By contrast there was pain from the 2016 Council statement ‘humbly urging’ those who want to affirm LGBTQ relationships not to do so.

‘As well as the pastoral issue there’s a missional issue. Some are concerned that we are having these conversations at the expense of mission. But others are wondering how our conversations might affect those we seek to reach.’

Other messages:

Baptist life: ‘How can BUGB listen to its component parts meaningfully?’

‘How can we more properly recognise our union in everyday church activities and services?’


Diversity and unity: ‘How much diversity can our unity embrace? If Jesus is in the middle - lots! If we are in the middle, not much.’

Older people: ‘Can we talk about ministry for/to older people?’

Pastors: ‘Who is pastoring the pastors?’

Culture: ‘For every four people we baptised 40 years ago, we baptise one today. If we don’t talk about this there will be nobody left to have the other conversation.’
 

Slido

The Slido app gave anyone interested in the Assembly, whether they were onsite or online, the opportunity to ask questions. These questions could then be upvoted.

The most upvoted question on Slido:

‘It is becoming sad that our union does not value evangelism as an equal priority. Can my voice be heard please?’ Anonymous

Other questions expressed a range of concerns about mission, evangelism and human sexuality. The majority were submitted anonymously.
 

Assembly feedback forms

The Assembly feedback questionnaires offered another option for people to share their views. These quotes capture a very small element of the feedback:

It was great to be face-to-face again

Networking was more done offsite and out-of-hours, but it was good that there was plenty of space for those who wanted it

Good to have more magazine / conversational elements and fewer ‘speeches’

The chance to sustain and renew long-term friendships beyond our current geographical location is the key motivating factor for us. There was plenty of space which enabled this, which is as important as the programme

I thought the Pecha Kucha presentations were really thought-provoking and an innovative way of presenting some of the bigger issues in the Baptist family

I found the amount of starter (Pecha Kucha) conversations very intense and would have appreciated more time to reflect and discuss, and then some personal space to do the same

Overall, I would have appreciated more teaching and/or theology discussed/given at Assembly

The speaker on Sunday morning (Alan Donaldson) was great - really appreciated his input



The Baptist Assembly feedback forms reflect a broad range of views which have been analysed by an independent researcher. Click here to access the full results of the survey.

Click here to download a pdf version of this article
 
 


   
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Compiled by Amanda Pink - a Baptist minister and Team Chaplain at Milton Keynes University Hospital
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