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November 16, 2012


ian tutton


Thank you for this. At least somebody has taken the time to communicate something of Council's deliberations to me, a 'mere minister' - unlike my Association which tells me nothing about anything that is happening at Union level. There is an interesting but profound omission from the list of major constituencies - THE LOCAL CHURCH - truth is, BUGB is becoming entirely conciliar, with all decisions taken regardless of local churches who are then 'told' that this is all for their good...

Andy Goodliff

Ian, if its not clear above, I am claiming that reforming associations would re-establish the link to local churches more concretely. It many places, but not all, associations are largely independent of the churches that they consist of and are meant to represent.

There is still work to be done to re-establish Assembly has a place of deliberation. The Baptist means of seeking the mind of Christ beyond the local takes place in Council and Assembly. Again this has almost been entirely lost in terms of Assembly, it must be re-discovered.

Annie Weatherly-Barton

I am pleased that BUGB are going to reform but I am not sure it goes far enough. A great many ministers we know find that HQ is irrelevant to what happens on the ground. A law unto themselves I would suggest. Making decisions without any consultation with those who will be the most affected? Out of date, out of time, and irrelevant.

As for Associations. Well most are pretty relevant as the areas are far too big and with only one or two people covering said area. It doesn't work! So many years of churches having to cow-tow to area Superintendents? I don't think so. Our local ministers fraternal is where the support and action is. That is the nub where exchange of ideas, pastoral support, and real, honest to goodness support happens. The area is much smaller and ministers feel supported and understood. It is relational and it works.

People on the ground are fed up with being "told" what to do by faceless and unknown people. BUGB changes just re-invents what is already there and in place. Smaller yes, but better? I don't think so.

Perhaps it would be good for the Council to ask itself: who did we involve in this consultation about the future. No one I know. Be lucky to know what is going on. You only find out via the internet. Little information and no consultation. Rural areas? Forget it. No one is interested in the rural churches, unless they have big congregations. Our small church was told it didn't have a dog's chance of getting a minister: no manse, no money, small congregation. Well we've been here for 2 years and our small congregation has grown - nearly doubled. Small can be indeed very beautiful. Methodist, Baptist and Anglicans all work together and make things happen. And it is not just rural small but also urban small. BUGB do not understand that and are not interested. Until they do start understanding they will continue to be irrelevant.

Annie Weatherly-Barton

Maybe have a look at this as it is where were here in our little rural community are at or are working towards being. Jonny is a real inspiration.


Andy thank you so much for your post.
Some really interesting points, and I am grateful for your thoughts, but if I am honest very doubtful that association life can be renewed( at least round here)in the way you suggest.
I really wanted to pick up Ian's point in the comments section. It staggers me that there is so little told to local churches and their ministers about what happens at council except for a press release at the end. Compare that to live blogging ,tweeting etc coming minute by minute from synod as I type
I do understand that this council had some sensitive (and very sad )employment issues to deal with, but actually in my experience this lack of communication is pretty standard
sadly if we stop communicating with people in the end they may stop being interested in us

I do think there is something in what you say about Assembly though


Thanks Andy, helpful thoughts and questions.
If I may share a brief quote from your dad's "networks" paper:

While Baptist ecclesiology has retained a form of associating through the Councils and assemblies of Union and Associations, the intermediate level of associating that is closest to the local congregation has been adopted in a fragmentary way. Associating has become instrumentalised through representative bodies. Rooted in Scripture and remembering the practices of our earliest forebears, a new focus upon local associating, networking or clustering is urgent and necessary.
Goodliff, P. "Networks" (p22) available from http://www.baptist.org.uk/component/docman/doc_download/1166-baptist-futures.html .

Having heard, and as I attempt to respond to, the challenges (many from you) on the importance of inter-dependence, I guess my question amongst all the re-organization at National and Local Association level is:
"what place do you think "clusters" or "local-networks" should or do play in the relationship between local church community and the wider (more institutional?) associating with the Baptist movement?"
do you have any "stories that encapsulate and illustrate good practice" ;-)

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