Capturing the essence of what God was saying to us, and how his Spirit was moving amongst us, as we gathered in Assembly 2017 is a real challenge. Something was happening that was more than the sum of each part. The Lord encouraged us in real hope, not just “chipper optimism.”
For the first time, we invited churches to send messengers to Assembly rather than delegates, people who could share a story of hope that was emerging in the local church that they represented. And that is exactly what happened as 350 messengers turned to one another and spent an hour trading stories of God at work in our nation. Baptisms, healings, compassion shared, lives transformed by the gospel, opportunities to witness in civic spaces, opportunities to pray with the lost and a movement of God’s Spirit among our young people preparing them to serve the church, these capture some of the stories that were told. Around 20 of the stories have been recorded on video and are available on our YouTube channel, You can also listen to our worship leader Ilsa Ogston sing one of her own songs which we learned, along with a slideshow of the whole Assembly.
In the work of Assembly we received the encouraging news that our churches remain financially committed to our Union; we continue to operate a breakeven budget and have made good progress in addressing the Pension issue facing our churches and Union. We were delighted to appoint several new members of Council and three Trustees, Sandy Weddell (Easterhouse), Stephen Hagan (Westray), Ruth McLaren (Pitlochry). The National Team reported on stories of hope from across the country focusing on 6 areas: prayer, mission, together, rooted, leaders and future.
Regarding the future, Assembly welcomed and commissioned Ali Laing as our Next Generation Development Coordinator. Ali led a seminar, sharing with a variety of leaders from around the country, where they explored some of the extraordinary work that is happening in schools, youth clubs, church youth groups and in partnership with social services and other church groupings around the country.
In worship, the Assembly joined the 17:21 initiative which connected our gathering with many other evangelical gatherings around the country this year in an act of Christian unity. https://1721.org.uk/ We were also thrilled to sing worships songs that had been written in Scotland as we were led by worship leaders from a variety of churches, drawn together by Ilsa Ogston.
As always, the Assembly was supported and funded in partnership with BMS. On this occasion it was a great blessing to welcome their new General Director, Dr Kang-San Tan. Kang-San spoke of his upbringing in Malaysia, his conversion to Christianity as well as his journey in ministry so far. His warmth, humour and depth of theological reflection were deeply appreciated.
We were blessed by a variety of forms and styles of teaching this Assembly. Rich Robinson walked us through some of the stories of Nehemiah, relating them to our current situation and preparing us for an adventurous journey. Juliet Kilpen unpacked her own adventurous weekly journey among Calais’ refugees in the camp known as The Jungle. Steve Stockwell used poetry to connect speakers, themes and to open our ears afresh to messages being shared. Stuart Blythe reminded us on the last night that hope is more than “chipper optimism”, concluding that “Hope dances on the quaking ground of resurrection.”
All talks and poetry are available to download or listen to, www.scottishbaptist.com/assembly
Maybe these word of Scripture capture something of what God was saying to us at Assembly 2017. Romans 5:3-5,
“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!”
Save the Date!
Be a church messenger next year or book directly to come with your friends and family for two days of celebrating what God is doing in our land, 25-26 October 2018 in Motherwell Civic Centre.