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May 05, 2008



Hi Andy,
sorry, never did spot you at Assembly. Yup, I was well not pleased to sing that song!

I fully share your thoughts over the unitarian (small 'u', Jesus=God type) worship style and lack of scripture readings. I think Assembly is probably a place where 'prepared extempore' prayer by people who actually know how to craft prayers should be employed. For me one of the best worship moments was the silence in the closing all age bit - if children and babies (apart from the one who was crying) can do and value silence then why not adults?

Anyway, I'll keep reading if you keep posting. :o)


I too am very concerned about the lack of Scripture reading. I commented to the organising committee last year. I felt there was more scripture this year but not as you rightly say in a stand alone context. It makes me wonder what we are afraid of. I also felt there was one meeting where there were no bible passages at all even though there was a sermon. In one of my sermon classes taken by Paul Fiddes I was rightly brought up short over the lack scripture and it has stuck with me since.

Thanks for blogging


Hi Andy - good to have a brief chance to chat at weekend. I'm with you on the subject of worship. It must be possible for us to develop a distinctly baptist way of conducting public worship in large scale celebrations; which integrate music, Scripture, liturgy, prayer (particularly confession and intercession) and visual arts (dance, drama, vt, etc).

Taking assembly as a whole I'm sure that among those who attend there is a wealth of talent and ability that is not being used. Yet if we could find ways of doing so, assembly would be a much richer experience.


I really noticed the lack of public reading of scripture. I thought the worship band was much better than in recent years but as you say the choice of songs wasn't the greatest. But it is the content of the rest of the main sessions, not the singing, that seems to be devoid of anything creative or spiritual. Though actually you don't need to be that creative to include some public reading of the bible, prayers, drama etc. But there was nothing of that. At times, it was like being at a political party conference, rather than amongst God's people gathered for worship.

Alan Mair

Totally agree with your comments on the main Sessions. The absence of any reading of Scripture was noticeable and the prayers rarely got beyond 'me and God'.
I also thought the music was too loud - but I am now of that age!
I thought too that the planning of the programme left a lot to be desired. Is there nowhere in the country with a conference centre that could accommodate all the seminars and fringe meetings in one central location?
But it was good to meet friends and colleagues.


Hi Andy.

Good to meet you (in the bar one night). Clearly with something like the Assembly you're not going to please everyone. Or, as is likely, anyone. For myself, i found some bits helpful and some less so, but overall i grew in my relationship with God and with other people. So i will give it a thumbs up.

Andy Scott

Good to meet you briefly, Andy.
Enjoyed most aspects of the Assembly (including a good seminar on supporting local schools) and the opportunity to meet and catch up with others from the Baptist family. Two worship-related items I picked up on: firstly, I thought the Sunday am Communion lacked any real intercessory prayer which made it feel too inward-looking. Did I miss something? Secondly, am I right in thinking the only really strong element of lament in worship was actually during the final Family Celebration when we sang a song called 'Why'?
As for 'These are the days of Elijah' I think the worship leader did his best to explain the eschatological tension of the author's intention.


I only have time for a really quick comment now, but I wonder if any of those who were hoping for something more creative attended Prism at all?

The only "main" session (and there's a discussion to be had about that phrase..) I was able to attend was the all-age, which I confess I loved.

David Lewis

In answer to Jonathan's comment, I went to Prism on the Saturday morning, in order to hear Vinoth Ramachandra, and wasn't disappointed. My only negative comment about Prism that morning was that we were surrounded by the detrius of other people's leftover breakfast, which wasn't conducive to the atmosphere.

Overall, I enjoyed the Assembly, but there were a number of niggling issues - some because of the venue and others regarding the 'main sessions', as mentioned by folks above.

Jennie Dobson

Hi this was my first assembly and it was an intresting experience, i really enjoyed the prism programme and the more intimate nature of it.

I was disappointed that there was only one seminar relevant to youth and children's when this is suppose to be a focus for BUGB at the moment, as for the venues they were miles away and not within walking distance which meant taking a car not very green for an assembly which focused on climate change issues.

Having said all that i will be going again because i meet some great people there!


Hi Andy,

I've never enjoyed the Assembly when I've been. But, reading some of these comments, I do wonder if we're too hard on it. I don't think we can really expect it to be all things to all people.

If it is to reflect the worship of the union, then it seems to me that it does a fairly good job - for better or worse.

Incidentally, I've always found Sallie McFague' phrase troublesome, blasphemous even.

andy goodliff


Why have you found McFague's phrase troublesome (do you know where she says it?)

Perhaps it does reflect the worship found in many of our churches, i just think it is an opportunity to example something better

Jonathan Castro

C.H.Spurgeon left the Baptist Union in 1887. I wonder why!!!


Jonathan, there's no need to wonder. Spurgeon's reasons for leaving the BU at the time are very well documented. I can't quite see the relevance however.

Andy, if memory serves, the quote's from Models of God. I just don't see it as an appropriate or helpful phrase. I've been to very, very few churches (Baptist or otherwise) that I think place too much emphasis on Jesus. Obviously, there's lots of singing about it and a great deal of talk about his death, but I wouldn't often use the word Christocentric to describe churches I've encountered.

Moreover, if Jesus is what God looks like, I'm not at all sure that it's possible to be guilty of jesusoltary.

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