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  • Communication... and the Perils of Instant Messaging

    Last weekend I was at the BUGB-BMS Assembly where, I believe something very significant took place, not just in one statement that was read out, but also in a very specific ministry being celebrated and the invitation to communion.  But what has intrigued me more has been the way that the story has morphed and changed and been misreported and misunderstood since then.

    To begin, I want to say that BUGB did an amazingly wonderful job, in my view, in expressing a thoroughly Baptist response to a complex topic (and as 'this is where we've got to so far' not as 'and that's that').  It seemed to me to be gracious, thoughtful and, whatever your views on the topic, helpful all ways round.  You can read more here, but this is copied directly from the BUGB website:

    As a union of churches in covenant together we will respect the differences on this issue which both enrich us and potentially could divide as we seek to live in fellowship under the direction of our Declaration of Principle ‘That our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, is the sole and absolute authority in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and that each church has liberty, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to interpret and administer His Laws.’
    Upholding the liberty of a local church to determine its own mind on this matter, in accordance with our Declaration of Principle, we also recognise the freedom of a minister to respond to the wishes of their church, where their conscience permits, without breach of disciplinary guidelines.
    We affirm the traditionally accepted Biblical understanding of Christian marriage, as a union between a man and a woman, as the continuing foundation of belief in our Baptist Churches.
    A Baptist minister is required to live and work within the guidelines adopted by the Baptist Union of Great Britain regarding sexuality and the ministry that include ‘a sexual relationship outside of Christian marriage (as defined between a man and a woman) is deemed conduct unbecoming for a minister’.

    Whatever you think about this, gentle reader, what matters for my purposes is not what it says but what people thought they heard as hashtags and twitterings spread like wildfire, with each person adding a new layer of interpretation.

    The Baptist "Church" (nope) had discussed (nope) voted on (nope) approved (nope) a change...

    There was some good and careful blogging, notably Steve Holmes, here, who prefaced his original post with a note to the effect 'if I am hearing what I think I'm hearing..." and then revised the post within 24 hours when he had time to check what was said.  Thank you Steve.

    There has also been some less careful broadcasting, based I suspect on hear-say rather than research, as indicated here and here.  What heartens me is that three Baptist ministers, from three different situations (and with different perspectives) each spoke graciously and Baptistly.

    So, very interesting from a point of view of how instant communications so quickly leads to misrepresentation - a cautionary tale if ever there was one.

    And I'm still proud to be a Baptist because when we do it well, it is wonderful

  • Inspiring People

    Today's PAYG invited the listener to think of people who had been significant in their own faith or life story... a familiar exercise, and I worked hard not to settle for the 'usual suspects' but to try to think more widely of people who have challenged and changed my thinking, as well as people who have affirmed and encouraged me.  Who, I thought to myself, has affected my thinking or believing and how or why is that.

    Then I drifted into wondering whose lives I have impacted and in what way - not some kind of smug, self-satisfied listing of baptisms or church memebrs or converts or whatever, but a more reflective wondering of how what I have said, done, written, or not said, not done, not written, might have impacted people for ill or good, in tiny ways or more noticeable ways.

    I wonder, as I draw up my standard list of Sunday School teachers, preachers, GB leaders, theologians and writers who it was who influenced them - who are the unnamed previous geenration of inspirers, shapers, challengers, changers? And, should my name ever appear in anyone's list, who will be listed there also, and who inspired or influenced them?

    It is sobering to think that someone, somewhere, might think I was signfiicant in their story... and more sobering still to contemplate why that might be.  Way back, when I first sensed a call to ministry, I remember telling someone that my biggest fear was that something I said or did might damaged someone's faith or relationship with God... I think that's still the case, but perhaps I am now less certain what it is that is, ultimately, damaging and what it is that is, ultimately, affirming.

    My list of influencers and inspirers is long and varied.  I'd like to imagine that one day, in the great hereafter, they would meet and marvel at how they, in their diversity made me who I am and what I have yet to become.  Such is the mystery of God's work.

  • Personalised Delivery...


    I managed to miss the delivery of my Commonwealth Games tickets today as I was at work... I love that they are described as CG Tickets.... how personalised is that?!  Am also glad I live close to the sorting office to pick them up.

  • What a week - in a good way!

    And it's only Wednesday!

    Yesterday evening, just before I turned in, I did one last quick check of emails - and one landed from New Zealand to say that they have a publisher lined up to publish our papers - how exciting is that!  There is something slightly wonderful that a publishing house that specialises in Aotearoa - New Zealand spirituality might be willing to include a paper by an English woman living in Scotland.

    BUGB life official and not-quite-official is bubbling with creativity and energy after a very special Assembly, and that is a delight to behold and be part of (not everyone will agree, I'm sure, but we're Baptists, that's the point!).  I really hope some of it comes to pass because it will be so good.

    The sun is shining and, for me, life is good... how blessed am I.

  • A New Thing Springing Up?

    Isaiah 43:19 is one of the most overworked verses in the Bible, often expressed almost in desperation as if suddenly someone has spotted the 'new thing' God is doing and tries to convince a sceptical, resistant old guard.

    Social media can be a terrible distraction - and this morning it has certainly been very distracting, but I hope in a good way.  It all began with someone posting a question asking how people had found the Assembly in West Brom.  Attention drifted to next year's one day Assembly, accompanied by mutterings, then someone said something that had that 'new thing' feeling about it... so how about people go for two or three days and organise stuff themselves for those days, inviting others to join in?  Now the creative juices seem to be flowing and people are making suggestions of what they might like to offer or be part of... it could be very exciting, and it could be good.... and it could be worth having achieved not a whole lot this morning... all kinds of possibilties. Will we actually move from words to deeds?  Who knows, but it could be very exciting indeed!