Rather belatedly, some thoughts on the BUGB-BMS Assembly in Peterborough
For me, this year, Assembly was a welcome distraction from the 'not-quite Holy Saturday' experience of travelling down following my mother's sudden death and not being able to register that until the coroner had agreed a PM wasn't needed. Seeing many friends from across the UK (mostly England and Wales, a few from Scotland) was good, and is always part of what it's all about.
I absolutely loved the music used in worship - songs in many languages and of many styles. No 'worship band' but keyboard, drums (very skilfully employed for once) and singers of several ethnicities from one church. Beautiful, meaningful, authentic.
In order to give us the opportunity to attend two serminars - with an excellent choice - the plenary had been pared back more than ever, and the addresses so short that they were unable to develop the ideas. One phrase I loved, and which stuck is that "we are NOT called to be be bouncers for the Kingdom"... not for us to decide who is in/out, nor to protect the institution from those we deem not quite 'nice'. Challenging stuff.
Of course I had some niggles, and via the wonder of Twitter, expressed them. Of course some things have to be re-learned with every new set of people 'up front'. Of course it wasn't perfect.
The photo above shows myself and a friend marking the centenary of ordained Baptist women in ministry in England and Wales, by wearing tee-shirts we bought from the USA Network of Baptist Women in Ministry. According to R, I am her 'pioneering friend', so when, during the closing worship, there was an invitation for those who believed themselves to be in pioneering ministries to put their hands up whilst someone from the front prayed, I did... even though it's not my thing or my style.
As Baptists we don't get everything anywhere near right, and sometimes we get things very, very, wrong but I firmly believe that God loves us, calls and equips us for works of service in many ways and many places.
After Assembly, a small group of us went for a meal. We rocked with laughter. We shared sorrows. We were communion in pasta and fizzy water. Then we scattered, some to hotels, some home, some to stay with friends... and it was good.