Assembly 2019 – The Big Birthday Bash!

Jenny Wilson reflects on this year’s special 150th Anniversary Assembly. 

This year’s Assembly had a very different feel to it. It started off like any other Assembly with a time of worship led by Thomas Dean and Friends, an opening address by Elaine Duncan, CEO of the Scottish Bible Society, Communion led by Rev Jack Quinn and then on to the AGM and National Team reports.

Martin Hodson gave his first report as our General Director. A particular highlight was his encouragement for our Union to be about transformations, generations and innovations. He noted the need to innovate and encourage the development of smaller expressions of church to sit alongside more traditional expressions of church.

We also said farewell to Alan and Ruth Donaldson, including a lovely video tribute from a number of churches and colleagues across the country. After a shorter session exploring some questions with our friends from the Fellowship of Baptists in Britain and Ireland, Assembly went into full on celebration mode!

A non-alcoholic drinks reception with live Scottish music courtesy of David Purves and friends ushered delegates and guests in to the 150th Anniversary Gala Dinner. After a note of welcome from Martin Hodson, grace was said by Rev Bill Slack, former General Director of BUS. Delegates enjoyed a four-course meal after which there was a fantastic after-dinner speech given by Douglas Inglis, from Newton Mearns BC which left us all in stitches! The evening was rounded off by singing a worship song to the tune of Auld Lang Syne, ably led A Capella by Dr Lina Toth from the Scottish Baptist College. It was lovely to see a gathering of over 300 people feasting and celebrating this milestone in our Union’s history.

Saturday morning saw Celtic Worship leading opening sung worship as well as Rev Martin Clarke giving the keynote address. After lunch, the Live Stream event took place with various streams for all-ages. One of the highlights was 4Front Theatre’s performances of The Fisherman’s Tale, which was very much enjoyed by both the young and not-so-young! There was also an Amazonia Outreach event for kids with giant snails and many other fascinating creatures! Face painting and balloon modelling also took place.

The lovely ladies of the Scottish Baptist Women’s fellowship put on a fantastic afternoon tea, which saw many cakes and bakes being munched!  In another area there was an all-age interactive prayer space and in the main auditorium a ‘One Show’ style magazine show was hosted by Glenn Innes, chair of our Mission Initiative group. The Scottish Baptist College also hosted a number of short ‘TED-style’ talks ranging from Mental Health and the Church; Singleness and Marriage within the church and also the scientific breakthrough on gravitational waves.

The Assembly finished with an all-age service, with sung worship led by Celtic Worship; a wonderful skit by the 4front Theatre group; an all-age talk by Rob Fraser-Binns and an interactive prayer response led by Martin Hodson and Ruth Kelso. During this closing session we had the privilege of congratulating the newly accredited ministers; commissioned Martin Hodson as General Director and welcomed Lighthouse Central, Prestonpans into Union membership.

Phew – there was a jam-packed programme throughout the Assembly and it really was a special way to finish off our year of celebration of our 150th anniversary. We want to say a massive thank you to everyone who was involved in the planning and delivery of this special Assembly – there are too many people to thank individually, but each person brought their own unique and special contribution to the whole event.