I will admit that I was sceptical about the two-day BUGB/BMS Assembly, fearing that it would feel rushed and that the things that I value would be squashed or lost. In the event, it was a great Assembly and, although I did miss some elements, I had a great time.
I didn't enjoy every last moment - some of the music wasn't to my taste and was over loud, there were late starts and several over-runs - but all that faded into insignificance compared to all that was good.
Just three significant bits to share for now.
- The BMS 'Happy' video which you can see here brought lots of laughter as well as presenting lots of information - a good year for BMS
- In the BUGB session this hugely significant statement was read out. For some it does not go far enough, for others it may go too far, but overall it is good, Baptist unity-in-diversity stuff. As was said at the time, this is not the 'final word' but it is massively significant and, in my opinion, a really helpful step... just a shame you have to dig so deep into the website to find it!
- The closing communion service was the high point... presided by a minister with significant and visible physical disability, served by people who were children and adults, black and white, female and male, married and single and all sorts of other expressions of diversity, it was, for me, a glimpse of the eschatological banquet. Singing 'For everyone born, a place at the Table' a capalla was heart-burstingly wonderful, knowing that in the congregation were people of all theological hues and with the whole of life as their experience. I can't really capture it in words - but as one of the servers, I was so proud and so humbled to be a tiny part of it.
Sometimes I am proud to be a Baptist - this weekend was one such time.