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May 15, 2008



the answer has 3 letters - you work it out.



Jesus has 5 letters, so I'm stumped...

Simon Woodman

Rev. 13.18. 'It's number is 342'

simon jones

I wonder how realistic it is to expect 1800 people gathered in a barn to deliberate on anything - other than the fact that they can't see or hear.

Doug Chaplin

Sorry: you have a Baptist ecclesiology?


In 2001, which was the first Assembly I ever went to, we did some small group discussions on thorny topics, which seemed to go quite well - even if I was annoyed by the views of one of the people in my group! But it never followed through to any formal anything that I am aware of.

When I read old minutes of the General Baptist Assembly (Whitley) (yes, very sad, I know) things were clearly very different, but to an extent reflected a different era. Whilst there is a real sense of local congregations wrestling with topics and bringing them to Assembly for guidance, I guess a lot of things these days would be handled by an email to Didcot.

But there is more to it than that. There is a sense that these worthy blokes (alas they were all male as far as I can tell) probably did spend hours and hours discussing and debating stuff.

I wonder if now most of that has now been devolved to Council, in the way that many local churches now devolve things to committees. Many churches seem to have meetings that are more rubber stamping than debating, more voting that discerning - and to be reluctant to actually 'wrok' within them.

Sorry this is turning into a very long waffle. I agree with you that Assembly seems to have lots of 'set piece' stuff in it, no real debate and, more worryingly we never seem to follow up year on year on what we agreed to the year before (again scarily like some church meetings).

I'm not sure how we might work to achieve the necessary sea change to make Assembly able to do some theology - but maybe you raising it is a good start.

(By the way I have no idea what Sean's TLA (three letter acronym) might be, so I'm obviously not on the right wavelength)


Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it isn't there (as the bishop said to the....no I won't go there)


To those who are puzzled, I suggest we go Simon's route and use the most basic gematria system (perhaps in Greek), combined with a little movie quiz.

You need the release date for the film 'Tongues of Flame', convert to numbers, greek letters, english letters and the answer will tell you the main reason why we no longer have an ecclesial Assembly.


2nd December 1918 (kata Google) so 2 12 1918? Too many different schemes on the net, and I don't know how to handle the 1918 but the answer that emerges might be....


Andy, I'm not sure that the Assembly is 'part of our Baptist eccleisology'. And if it is, I don't think it's particularly Baptist to pay special attention to our theologians. Attention, yes, but special?

David Lewis

It would be interesting to know how many churches are represented at the assembly - and what kind of churches they are. I would surmise that many of our smallest churches can't afford to send anyone to the assembly, and so we would need to find a way to involve them in the deliberations of the assembly. And I wouldn't be surprised to discover that many larger, and more self-sufficient, churches aren't represented either, out of choice rather than necessity.

If I remember rightly, when big discussions have taken place, on 'controversial' items, many delegates came to the assembly mandated by their churches to vote one way or another. In that kind of atmosphere it becomes very difficult to discern the mind of Christ together.

Bill Miller

I know that the BU Council, unlike the Assembly, is not a gathering open to all members (although finances mean that the Assembly, like the Ritz, can be open to all in principle but not in practice). Thus Council is more akin to a gathering of deacons than to a gathering of the whole church. Nevertheless, it seems that when it comes to discerning the mind of Christ together something of that nature did happen in ways which surprised the participants regarding the discussions on the apology for the slave trade which took place in November. This is where deliberation and seeking the mind of Christ is happening. Should we just accept this pragmatically or should we see what we can learn and transfer to the larger setting of the Assembly. Certainly BU Council used small groups in their discerning process.

Jonathan Doney

Fascinating to read these comments; hope that the following might be helpful:
1) Associations do have access to funds to allow smaller churches to send delegates to Assembly, although I understand many associations don't know this or they don't promote it. I'm not sure if they have the same resource to send delegates from smaller churches to go to the Ritz, but its a thought!
2) Whilst the delegation of many decisions to council might be a pragmatic solution, is it necessary the appropriate solution; is there not a danger that Assembly simply becomes a rubber stamping jamboree? it seems that it is only Assembly that has the ability to make Assembly what it should be!
3) I am working on a Masters looking at Baptist Ecclesiology, which concentrates on the local church; is there an audience for this to be expanded to look at the wider ecclesiological questions?

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