Held in Perth only three weeks before the UK Coronavirus lockdown, this Council was a very well attended event which facilitated wide ranging discussion over many topics currently before our Union. It was also the first occasion on which our Council was fully operating as the Council of the Baptist Union of Scotland Ltd., a charitable company limited by guarantee.
Our General Director, Martin Hodson, spoke on his three priority framework of ‘Transformations, Generations and Innovations’, as he encouraged our Union to play our part as the largest family of Evangelical Churches in Scotland today.
The National Team reported on a number of matters: the completion of the Communications’ Review which was started last year; the young people in the current Invest Training Year; and an update on both the number of our churches currently seeking a stipendiary minister and the type of candidates seeking accreditation now coming before the Board of Ministry.
Our in-house lawyer, Alan Holloway, reported on the completion of the incorporation process.
Martin set out plans for our Assembly in the future, emphasising that the National Team are aiming to continue to create an inspirational space for churches, whilst broadening the age range of attendees through encouraging younger people to participate in the event.
Council heard and/or received a number of other reports about such areas as the Continuing Ministry Development Programme for our ministers; the Peaceful Transformation Team; Scottish Baptist College; BMS World Mission; the Mission Initiative Group; and the Board of Ministry. We also heard news from the Baptist Union of Great Britain through Graham Ensor, who is now their representative on our Council and who was with us for the first time.
Peter Dick, our Finance Director, presented his report on the financial position of the Union and decisions were made to increase the Reference Stipend by 2.5%, whilst holding the per capita amount for 2020/21 at £42. The proposed budget for the coming year was approved and Peter provided up-to-date information on the current status of both the BUS pension liability and our grant funding.
All that said, what stood out for many at this Council was the level of participative engagement which occurred on two very significant questions posed by Martin. The first question was ‘What do churches hope for from our Union?’. The second question came out of a desire to ‘test the water’ regarding a possible re-envisioning of our Union’s involvement in public issues and social action. The second question was therefore ‘What is our posture in the public debate?’. These questions provided much fruitful small group discussion, the nature of which was carefully noted down. The overall results were then collated in order to enable the National Team to chart the way ahead, as BUS seeks to continue to serve our family of churches.
Our chaplain for this Council was Nick Cox and I am grateful to both Nick and the others who assisted him during our time together through leading worship, sharing ‘God stories’ and assisting in the preparation of the Lord’s Table.
This was indeed a very full Council meeting and I want to thank all who gave their time to attend and take part in what I am sure will prove to have been a very significant time of discussion and decision-taking for our Union as we go forward.
With every blessing in Christ,
Frances J. Bloomfield