I want to thank you for trusting me with the important responsibility of serving our Union as General Director. When I began as a young minister in Aberdeen, quite a few years ago, I didn’t envisage this happening. But I did carry a conviction that those God calls he also equips, and he did. It’s in that same spirit that I take on this role: with humble dependence on Jesus who keeps reminding me of his words: ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ but ‘if you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.’ I’m convinced God has called me to serve. A few years ago God called me to become a servant of ministers across the country, as our Ministry Development Coordinator. Now I receive God’s call to serve our whole family of churches as General Director. Jesus said, ‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’ I know that God has entrusted me with this role, and I know that much will be asked of me. So in his strength, building on the outstanding work of Alan Donaldson, I will give myself to leading our Union in the next phase of our life together. I believe in the love of God, the lordship of Christ and the power of the Spirit. And I also believe in our Union and the call of God to work together for the gospel of Jesus Christ in our land. There’s no greater trust to receive than the words of eternal life. I’ll do my utmost to enable us together to find the courage, the creativity and the sheer God-dependence to fulfil that trust faithfully.
The Prayer Baton continues its travels across Scotland at various gatherings and events. This month it has been in Dunoon, Greenock and St Andrews. The Argyll Gathering - The churches in Argyll gathered together on Saturday 17th August for a time of worship and prayer as part of our 150th anniversary celebrations. Around 45 people gathered in Dunoon Baptist Church with representatives from Dunoon Baptist, Ardbeg Baptist in Rothesay, Oban Baptist and Lochgilphead Baptist. Jim Purves attended the gathering with the Prayer Baton, as it continues its travels across the country. It was a lovely day of fellowship together for the Argyll churches. The Renfrewshire Gathering - On the evening of Sunday 18th August the seven Baptist churches from Renfrewshire & Inverclyde celebrated the Baptist Union of Scotland's 150th anniversary. Gathering in the wonderful new premises of the Greenock Baptist Church we worshipped with songs and stories that reflected the vision, faithfulness and commitment of our people through the years. While a large part of the evening was centred on historical reflection there was also a strong call to face the challenges of the present and the future with openness and expectation, in the address of Alan Donaldson, in the signing of the baton scroll by a teenager, and in the newly crafted worship song of the Greenock church. Prayer Baton at the SBWF Conference in St Andrews - Over eighty ladies gathered in St Andrews from 23rd to 25th August for Refresh, the annual conference organised by Scottish Baptist Women's Fellowship. The event is for all ladies and our ages ranged from 18 to 91. We enjoyed times of teaching, worship, reflection and refreshment. Our speaker had to cancel due to illness, but the Lord provided two fantastic speakers to step in, and there was a clear sense of His leading throughout the weekend. Particular highlights were Communion, and the time of reflection on Sunday afternoon where ladies shared what they had learned over the weekend. We hosted the BUS prayer baton for the duration of the weekend and the document inside was signed by our oldest and youngest attendees to reflect that like the Union, SBWF is for all ladies. As one younger lady reflected, we are privileged to be able to share and learn from those who have already experienced things in life and able to learn from each other.
Following the passing of Angela, a member of Cupar Baptist Church, at the age of 31, the Angela Lynsey Macdonald Trust was set up in 2014 to provide grants primarily for children and young people, to help them find faith or help them in developing their faith and to assist in the development of music in worship by providing grants for access to relevant courses and events and/or the provision of musical instruments. We found out from Bill Macdonald what projects the Trust has been supporting in the past five year from within our Baptist family and also further afield. In the past five years the support the Trust has given has gone far beyond the initial aim and to date has given or pledged in excess of £43,000, mainly within our Baptist family. The Trust has given long term support for youth workers in three of our Scottish Baptist churches. We have provided instruments for 2 Baptist churches and the Atholl Centre and subsidised music courses for young people within our churches as well as Scripture Union camps and leadership training. An outreach trip to Hungary from one of our churches also received funding. The Trust has also provided the funding for the reprint of the children’s book for Trypraying. Further afield we have provided instruments in Malawi used in evangelism and instruments to help pastors lead worship. A youth worker in Thailand, working alongside the Baptist Missionary Society church planters has also received financial help. In Lebanon, we have supported Sam’s house for refugee children in association with the Lebanese Baptists. The Trust has not been active in fundraising, but we have been grateful for the individuals and churches who have supported us financially. Angela’s Trust is now well established but the Trustees would welcome the opportunity to come and speak at your church or meeting. For more information about the Trust and its work: Visit: www.angelamacdonald trust.org or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are grateful to Amanda Hiddleston from Stirling Baptist who has written about her experiences at Soul Survivor Scotland, which took place in Lendrick Muir at the end of July. Soul Survivor Scotland 2019 was an absolute blast and an incredible week, which is always one of my personal highlights of the year. This is due to the amazing space and atmosphere which is created as you are surrounded by others who love Jesus, creating a great sense of community. This year was the biggest ever Soul Survivor in Scotland, with around 1500 people attending from different church denominations. This is what makes it even more special as everyone has come together to worship, learn, pray for one another and just live life together. It is a fantastic reminder that no matter which denomination we come from, we are all part of the same family under Christ. The majority of people attending Soul Survivor are young people who are there to explore and grow in their faith for themselves. This can be done through great teaching from Mike Pilavachi, Andy Croft and others, which takes place in the main meeting, as well as the seminar programme throughout the week. Along with the teaching there is so much more which goes on during the day and evening things like sport, chill time, late night worship around a bonfire, silent disco and to finish the week off in the only way you can in Scotland there is a ceilidh. However, during all the numberless amazing things that happen during the week the best thing about it just being able to see God moving in people’s lives in an incredible ways and seeing the young people responding to God. Furthermore, an even more exciting thing to see is that there are always young people who become followers of Jesus for the first time at Soul Survivor and this year was no different where as a family for Christ we were able to welcome 60 new people into the family.
As we begin this new term we celebrate 125 years of the Scottish Baptist College (SBC). Founded in 1894, we’ve served the church in Scotland through education for the last 125 years. Even just thinking back over the past few years, our students have made a significant and positive impact in many different ways. Recent graduates can be found in France, Cambodia, and Ethiopia amongst others. And we find our graduates are heading up significant organisations across Scotland – Glasgow City Mission, Alpha Scotland, and Tribe. And our students are found in a variety of contexts as they pursue their vocation – in schools, hospitals, the police force and beyond. And, of course, all across Scotland, from Shetland to the Borders, churches have our graduates continuing to cultivate their ministerial calling. In these moments, when you step back from the hubbub of everyday life at the College, you begin to realise the significance of the work SBC has done, is doing, and will continue to do. The context our students live and minister in is ever-changing and the context of higher education moves quickly, bringing with it challenges – financially, pedagogically, and theologically. Rightly so, the College looks very different to what it did 125 years ago, but we continue to ground our students in the unchanging, faithful love of God, whilst equipping them for the challenges and opportunities of the present age. We’re looking forward to this new term as a whole new intake of students comes our way, full of potential and energy to impact Scotland and beyond as they serve God’s kingdom. In recognition of the past 125 years, we’ve invited Professor David Gushee to give a lecture at the University of the West of Scotland entitled “What is truth and why it matter today more than ever?” Professor Gushee is a Baptist, a recent President of the AAR, and the Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University, (USA) and in this lecture he will be looking at the struggle for truth in public life. He is well-known for his book Kingdom Ethics and we look forward to his reflections on this extremely relevant topic. The event is free and open to all – we sincerely hope you will join us on Thursday October 3rd at 6pm for our 125th Anniversary Lecture (Room D141 McLean Building – more information on our website www.scottishbaptistcollege.org and tickets can reserved through Eventbrite). As we “kick-off” a new term at SBC, with all it will hold, we’re thankful for the heritage we stand on, the faithfulness of the One we serve, and the hope of the future we’re helping to build.
The Tiree Music Festival started in July 2010 and has been growing a steady following ever since. The festival provides a platform for a whole host of celtic music, whether traditional or modern. This year, the churches in Tiree got together with Tearfund and the band Celtic Worship to hold a worship time in the Big Top on Sunday morning! Celtic Worship will be leading worship on the Saturday at our Assembly this year, so we were really pleased to hear that they were playing at the Tiree Music Festival. Alan Miller, minister of Tiree Baptist Church says ‘it was a most encouraging service with many significant conversations afterwards. It was the right idiom for the event and there were many present who would not normally go to church.’ The following is an excerpt from Alan Miller’s blog called ‘Life on Tiree’ which gives a flavour of the event, the atmosphere and the opportunity to not only highlight the work of Tearfund, but to worship Jesus in the middle of a music festival! What a morning! The sea was flat calm There was hardly a breath of wind. And for the last day of the festival the sun was shining. Imagine waking up to this. Opening the tent door and looking out. Your senses are stirred by the blue sky and azure blue sea. And across the water is the Munro, Ben More, on the Isle of Mull. It’s a Sunday morning. For many it had been late to bed. Although it is 11:00 the festival site is filling up. The Cornaig Ceilidh Band is playing to a growing audience. Indeed some festival goers are dancing to the traditional music. In the Community Tent tea, coffee and home baking are being served. The Isle of Tiree is renowned for its home baking. No wonder a queue quickly formed! The Big Top was beginning to fill up. It’s a music festival so seating was limited. Soon it was standing room only, but that’s what you do. Derek Campbell welcomed everyone on behalf of the church on Tiree. One of the festival directors spoke on behalf of TMF. Then it was over to Celtic Worship. This was not just another band playing to an audience. This was an occasion of worship and witness. It was a real celebration. How appropriate the opening hymn/song was to the day. Thinking of the weather and our location we sang: O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder, Consider all the works Thy Hands have made; I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art. Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art! Celtic Worship is a Scottish Music Worship ministry which blends traditional and contemporary Christian Worship music with the powerful sound of Bagpipes, Whistles and Fiddle. The band is comprised of Scottish musicians from many different backgrounds and styles including: Steph MacLeod, Mhairi Marwick, Scott Wood, Chris Amer, Naomi Stirrat, Gus Stirrat, Neil Paton & Ifedade Thomas. Their mission is to combine their working life as professional musicians with their deep love of Jesus and their passion to share God’s love through their music. A member of the band spoke of the work of TearFund. Right at the heart of a Scottish Music Festival Jesus was worshipped. Thanks are due to the directors for their invitation to be involved. Thanks are due to Celtic Worship for their faithful service. What a joy to stand alongside Celtic Worship in worshipping Jesus. To God be the glory.