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On Renewing My Baptist Times Subscription

Now there's a blog title guaranteed to turn off half the readers before they even look at it!  But having just sent of my cheque for £53 to receive this denominational newspaper for another twelve months, it seemed apposite to ponder why it is that, so far, each year for around a dozen, I have made the choice to send such a payment.

Way back in 1998, and in the early stages of exploring my call to ordained ministry, I was advised by my then minister to take the BT as a way of learning more about how the denomination feels.  He was honest that he did not think it was that great a read, but it was useful to keep up to date with people and places.  Back then I think the BT had the feel of a church magazine writ large, lots of stories from local churches, a predictable letters page, twee poems or songs and, the dread of all ministers, a weekly column where randomly selected ministers were phoned to be asked their view on some current topic (so glad I wasn't a minister then!).

Since then the BT has steadily transformed itself to be a more interesting, more wide-ranging and more provoking read.  The predictable letters still appear from time to time from the predictable writers (do some people write in every week I wonder?) and some of the same old topics recur (like women in leadership or ministry, yawn) but overall I think the BT has improved dramatically.

A couple of things have proved especially helpful for me as a minister this year in responding to queries from church folk.

The first was last autumn, when the assisted suicide bill was being debated and some of my folk wondered where they could find resources to help them think it through.  The BT article and subsequent long-running correspondence provided a creative way of approaching the topic (supported by some Christian books for and against).

More recently, the proposals to allow places of worship in England to conduct same sex ceremonies provoked questions among some of my folk, and the BT articles and letters again proved useful in helping them think about this complex topic.

It is inevitable, but a shame, that the BT is essentially an 'England plus a bit of Wales' newspaper, reflecting the fact that it is an output of BUGB (sometimes referred to, affectionately, up here as the Baptist Union of England!).  A shame because my church (like two others up here) belongs to BUGB as well as BUS; a shame because I think BUS and BUW have voices worth hearing and ears capable of hearing with.

That the BT has changed, become a little more radical, a little more edgy, a little more broad in the last decade is, I believe a great thing.  I still like reading stories from local churches (and have submitted plenty of my own), seeing who has moved or been ordained or died; I still like the letters page, even if it sometimes drives me nuts; I like the Association based pull outs (how about one for the un-Associated churches sometimes?) and even if the Alpha One Paper doesn't do it for me it's good that it's there for those it serves.

For £53, just over a pound a week, I reckon the BT is worth buying - I mean where else could I get all the useful goss, I mean prayer pointers, at that price?!


  • I too enjoy my weekly comic!
    And Yes, I wonder why there are three BUs, especially as the southern part and part of north Wales is in BUGB. It all sounds very crazy!
    Maybe we should start a campaign to become one - now wouldn't that be radical!

  • I got a subscription to the BT at Assembly in Blackpool. I find it interesting and informative but would never have read it while I was in Glasgow (except for the job page ;). I have often said that BUS should become a BUGB region but with the possibility of Scottish independence a merger can't happen. Or would it be radical to do so in an independent Scotland?

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