We were privileged to host the Council of the European Baptist Federation in Scotland at the end of September. The 166 delegates from across Europe and the Middle East met in the Westerwood Hotel in Cumbernauld from 25-28th September. The opening night saw delegates come together for worship led by a team from Kirkintilloch Baptist Church, Martin Hodson, General Director of the Baptist Union of Scotland welcomed delegates to Scotland and EBF President, Rev Jenni Entrican gave the opening address. One of the main themes of the conference was the issue of religious freedom. There was also a discussion on the issue of environmental issues and how we as Baptists have a role to play in care of God’s creation.
In his address EBF General Secretary, Rev Tony Peck, highlighted the uncertainty of the times we live in, noting that ‘in Europe the two words that seem to be most about us at this time are ‘polarisation’; and ‘fragmentation’ to describe the political landscape and our societies.’ Tony spoke about the hope we have in Jesus, the tension between the now and the not yet and the good news we have to share with a fragmented Europe. Tony called for a renewed emphasis on life-long discipleship; a renewed willingness to be risk-takers for the sake of the Gospel; to renew our concern for both neighbour and stranger; a commitment to peace and reconciliation; a concern for the environment and also to have a renewed confidence and hope in God.
Rev Dr Elijah Brown, General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance was in attendance at the Council and spoke on the importance of religious freedom. We were also delighted to be able to hold a lunch meeting at Newton Mearns Baptist Church, so that Elijah could meet some of the Baptist ministers within BUS and chat to them about the topic of religious freedom, a topic close to Elijah’s heart.