CENTRAL BAPTIST ASSOCIATION: Annual report 2016
To describe all the activities that happen within the Association would of course require each church to offer an account of its life. In this annual report what is offered is a snapshot of the structure of the Association which acts to assist member churches to “walk together in ministry and mission” and also to represent the association through those nominated to serve on other bodies within and beyond the constituency.
Central Baptist Association
At December 2016 there were 153 member churches with 11.293 members listed in the Directory. Most churches will also have attenders who are not members. These Baptist churches and Local Ecumenical Partnerships or Parishes (LEPs) were served by 145 ministers, ministers-in-training, lay pastors and youth or family workers. There were also 16 ministers in chaplaincy or sector ministry posts – including .
This body met five times in 2016. Its brief is to oversee the life and development of the association, reflecting on policy and direction, monitoring the appropriate use of funds and ensuring that decisions are taken with adequate consideration, transparency and careful judgement. Periodically the Council reviews the Strategic Plan. This body is the trustees of the charity and also the board of directors for the charitable company and therefore accountable under law for the governance of the Association. It is also the official employer of the Regional Ministers. In 2016/17, the Council consisted of ten members, eight of whom are ordained and five are women. The Team Leader is a trustee and the other Regional Ministers attend meetings. Carol Murray was affirmed as Moderator at the 2016 AGM and Karen Hopkins appointed as Treasurer.
Ministerial Recognition Committee
The Ministerial Recognition Committee (MRC) normally meets five times annually to deal with everything pertaining to ministerial accreditation by the Baptist Union of Great Britain. In practice, this means that the majority of the MRC’s work is to interview two different sets of people on BUGB’s behalf: Candidates for Baptist Ministry – paid or unpaid – and ministers having come to the end of their Newly Accredited Minister (NAM) period of either three or four years. In addition, the MRC is also responsible for reviewing the progress of NAMs throughout this probationary period. Since the 2016 CBA AGM, the committee has interviewed 10 people: 5 ministers having come to the end of their NAM period, 3 candidates for pastoral ministry, and two candidates to be nationally recognised lay pastors.
While BUGB is ultimately responsible for addressing issues relating to the covenant that exists between ministers and the Union, the local Associations’ MRCs are expected to address less serious matters in partnership with the Regional Ministers.
The MRC operates with a panel of seven members, so that not every member of the panel will necessarily be present at each meeting. The membership of the committee changed during the year and the panel is now made up of two Regional Ministers, two women, five men, four ordained ministers and three laypeople. If an interviewee is a specialist in Youth Ministry or Evangelism, an experienced specialist in those fields will be co-opted.
Communications & Media
Printed media: Colin Pye produces CENTRAL NEWS three times a year (sponsored by the Baptist Insurance Company) and this colour production is sent to the churches for them to distribute among their members. We would observe again that it is at this point of distribution that often things get ‘stuck’ and would encourage these documents to be shared among the congregation rather than simply left at the back of churches to gather dust. It focuses upon GOOD NEWS stories from among the association churches and will normally feature a Home Mission story.
Home Mission: A Home Mission Video is in production right now focusing upon Gretton BC, Northants – this will be available to download from the web site. If you would value a DVD version please contact Colin Pye at firstname.lastname@example.org. A Home Mission thankyou poster has been distributed. As stated above, CENTRAL NEWS normally has a Home Mission story included.
Posters: We have produced a variety of posters / leaflets for a number of events including CBA assembly, Ministers conference/ Bucks Forum Gathering etc.
Online: The association web site (www.centralba.org.uk) has been maintained. Sue Barnard continues to produce an association monthly email news. If you don’t get this and would like to, please email her at email@example.com to be added to the mailing list. The CBA FaceBook page provides a ‘live’ up to date feel of all that is happening among those churches that have ‘liked’ it. Steve Summerfield continues to do a really magnificent job in keeping information flowing. Thanks Steve. The easiest way to access this page is to click the FaceBook link at the bottom right of the Web site front page
The group meets a couple of weeks prior to each Council meeting and takes an in-depth look at the range of financial matters that relate to the Association. This includes considering recommendations for the various grants and loans available from the Association for onward transmission to the Council for decision. In 2016 £1393 was given in training grants and Mission Initiative Grants. The group supports the Treasurer and helps to prepare an annual budget. The group consisted of five members, of whom three are non-ordained. Maggie Prisk is Moderator of the group. The group will be strengthened by the addition of Mr Trevor Higgs and Revd Andrew Openshaw
Community Learning – Footsteps Days and Courses
Over the past two years, through the partnership between CBA and Regent’s Park College, the Footsteps programme has continued to develop and now offers a number of different opportunities for training. These range from the year-long 10-Saturday Footsteps 1 and 2 courses to the single Footsteps Pathway Days, with options for shorter Footsteps Pathway Courses held more locally around the association, as well.
2015-16 was the second year in which Footsteps 1 and 2 ran alongside each other, but this time at the Church of Christ the King, Kents Hill, with 11 participants in each group. A number of students continued straight on from Footsteps 1 to Footsteps 2, while others returned after a break of a year or two. This enriches Footsteps 2 as new friendships grow alongside the deepening relationships formed in the first year of the course. In both cohorts, the strength and support of the pastoral prayer groups continues to be an outstanding element of the Footsteps experience. The contribution of our many trainers and of the Pastoral Assistants continues to be vital to the overall success of Footsteps.
Footsteps Pathway Days [which began life as Footsteps 3] have become an established part of the Footsteps programme, meeting three times a year, alongside the other two courses. The three sessions in 2015-16 were:
October 2015, ‘Who do we think we are?’ with Rev. Emma Walsh, looking at the influence and impact of our Baptist heritage on our mission today.
March 2016, ‘Multicultural Church’ where Gale Richards gave people opportunities to explore cultural diversity, racial justice and the building of healthy multicultural churches.
May 2016, ‘Mind the Gap? Bridge the Gap!’ was led by members of the BMS team at IMC, bringing experience of mission overseas to help UK churches make connections with their neighbourhoods, by sharing stories and human experiences across cultures of every kind.
There were between 10 and 25 participants at each of these days, 5 of whom are now part of Footsteps 1 in 2016-17. The feedback has been very encouraging: people feel inspired and more confident as they go back to their churches. They also enjoy the interaction with people from other churches. The profile of Footsteps Pathway Days has continued to grow during 2016-17.
The final element of Footsteps, the Footsteps Pathway Courses [previously Growing in Service courses], is being re-established. After some research we decided to offer a 2-Saturday course as an alternative to a 6-7 week evening one. The first of these was held at Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering, in January and February. More than 30 people attended this Pastoral Care course which was led by Rev. Ian Field. This option allows people to travel longer distances, and some participants came from as far afield as Tring and Princes Risborough, round trips of 100-150 miles!
2016-17 is the second year in our new venue, and we are constantly cared for by the 3 members of the church who are part of Footsteps this year. Numbers on the 2 main courses remain much the same. Some churches have had several people taking Footsteps 1 and 2, since it began in CBA, 6 years ago. However, it is encouraging to see signs that more people are discovering what is offered by various aspects of the whole Footsteps programme. This is particularly evident on the Footsteps Pathway Days, where we continue to have new churches represented each time we meet. Information about courses is provided by CBA mailings and regularly updated on the CBA website.
Anne Lane, Tutor in Community Learning, Regent’s Park College, Oxford.
Footsteps, the training programme for church members organised in conjunction with Regent’s Park College continued to meet in Milton Keynes. Events for training and awareness in safeguarding matters have continued be rolled out around the association. During the year there an event was held to allow ministers to reflect on the “Ignite” report produced by the Baptist Union. Theological reflection is also provided for Newly Accredited Ministers as part of their formation. Colin Pye held a “small churches” support day and the Association also hosted a day training on Charitable Incorporated Organisations run yy the Baptist Union.
The Association continues to take seriously the concerns of safeguarding, ensuring that accredited ministers have the appropriate DBS clearance. Five sessions were organised throughout the year for workers with children and young people and trustee responsibilities in the year.
There is a Safeguarding group bringing together people with experience in safeguarding children and adults that has worked on material for training workers and for trustees. Stephen Copson acts as convenor. From this group two people attend the National Safeguarding Group.
This committee met twice – once to consult on applications for grant support and once for a broader discussion of grants issues. The Committee consists of seven members with David Shaw as Moderator; four are accredited ministers and two are women. The Regional Ministers attend the Committee. There is a useful reciprocal exchange of representation with the Eastern Baptist Association Grants Committee. For 2017, grants totalling £ 115.755 were allocated, including support for local pastorates, ministers-in-training, chaplaincies and specialist posts.
Representation beyond the association
The Association is represented nationally on BUGB bodies: on Team Leaders & National Settlement Team (Geoff Colmer), Baptist Union Corporation (Stephen Copson), Treasurers’ meeting (Association Treasurer), Mission Network (Colin Pye) and Baptist Union Council (Geoff Colmer, Nikki Jenkins and Carol Murray). The Association is also represented on the Council of Reference of BMS World Mission, Baptist Twinning in Israel and Regent’s Park College Council, Oxford
The Association is represented on a number of ecumenical bodies, groups and trusts.
Beds: Beds Baptist Trust; Beds Ecumenical Committee; Bedford Ecumenical Lay Institute for Education and Faith (BELIEF); Beds Ecumenical Educational Chaplaincy;
Bucks: Churches Together in Bucks; Bucks SACRE,
Herts: Churches Together in Herts; Emmanuel Shared Church, Ware (link person); SACRE, Herts & Beds Shared Churches Company; Workplace Matters
North Bucks: Christ the Cornerstone trustees; Christ the Sower ecumenical primary school governors; Milton Keynes Presidents; Well St Buckingham (link)
Northants: Shire & Soke; Shared Churches; Princes Street Baptist church fund; Timson Trust
Team Leader’s Report 2016 (Geoffrey Colmer)
The Regional Ministry Team consisting of Geoffrey Colmer, Stephen Copson and Colin Pye is an established team within which each member brings different gifts, experiences, strengths and distinctives, collectively making for creative and effective teamwork.
We meet most months to share news and information, reflect, plan and consider issues, and although we are geographically dispersed there is much contact at other meetings we attend and through emails and phone calls.
The Team continues to be an integral part of the CBA Council, though only Geoff is a Trustee, engaging with the strategy for the CBA and spending a not inconsiderable amount of time considering the bigger picture of our Baptist Union. A major part of our role is ministry to churches on a Sunday and on special occasions, one that is relished and counted as a privilege.
The wider Baptist Union, Baptists Together, continues to undergo a process of change and although we as an Association are fully engaged with the transition, much of the everyday life of the CBA continues to be ‘walking together in ministry and mission’, which remains the essence of what we seek to be and do.
Beginning in April, the Association engaged in a BUGB initiative, to which we gave a slightly different emphasis and named it ’40 Days of Daring Greatly’. This consisted of three local gatherings in Luton, Northampton and High Wycombe but also with many other happenings as people in ways small and large dared greatly.
At the CBA Assembly in June, Rupert Lazar, the President of the BUGB, brought encouragement as he spoke on the theme of ‘Anointed to do Good’. The CBA Ministers’ Conference was another occasion when we were provided with some inspiring input from Lynn Green, the BUGB General Secretary; Mark Ord, the Co-Director of BMS International Mission Centre; and Ruth Bottoms, a minister from the CBA. There is major involvement in both of these annual events by the Team and we very much look forward to them.