Have you ever wondered what the learning is like for those who are on their journey to accreditation as Scottish Baptist ministers and chaplains? Perhaps this is a call you have been feeling God prompt in your own life and you’d love to find out more?
This month we hear from Rev Euan Johnstone, Pastor at Galashiels Baptist Church and Martin Donaghey, Minister at Westray Baptist Church, as they graciously share reflections from their very different contexts and journeys…
“This year’s conference for ministers and chaplains in the Pre-Accreditation process took as its key theme the question, ‘What kind of leader is God forming in you?’
Personally, I’m still in the midst of listening to God for a full answer on that – which is probably the point, now that I think of it. Anyway, at the very least I can say for sure that, having taken two planes, one train and several automobiles* to get to the conference (in Airth, Stirlingshire) from my home in the island of Westray in Orkney, my honest reply to that question for now can only be: ‘a well-travelled one!’
Without cheesily overworking any metaphors about journeys, I suspect the same is probably true of every disciple of Christ in our various experiences of following Him. Certainly, in the previous few years, who among us would say life hasn’t taken a few twists?
Fittingly then, it was on this topic, ‘Leading Through Uncertainty, Disruption and Change’ that the main speaker of the conference, Martyn Link, had us focus. His approach was refreshingly personal, vulnerable, collaborative and even creative: we were given a large sheet of card, and encouraged to fold it to produce nine boxes in which to take notes from each of the three sessions. These included times of personal reflection and group discussion.
Major takeaways for me personally included: ‘The ability to reinvent constantly is key’, and ‘Have people who can and will say to you, “what do you need right now?”’
At the end of his final session, Martyn instructed us to fold the card in such a way as to make it into an envelope, which we could address and send as a letter to ourselves. My origami skills being as they are, mine wasn’t up to Royal Mail standard, so it travelled home with me!
Additional sessions taken by National Team members Andrew Clarke (who led the conference wonderfully), Lisa Holmes and Glenn Innes were all also marked with similar openness and generosity of spirit.
Above all, I will take into this year the reminder of the vitality and joy of pursuing God’s presence in the company of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Among the most humbling and kind of the many blessings God has bestowed in the Pre-Accredited years in general is the fellowship of fellow ministers and chaplains in the process with you.
From ministering to each other in prayer, and being uncompromisingly passionate in worship times, to having the authenticity and empathy to ask about the difficult areas of life, I can’t say enough in this brief space about the richness of Godly love and support I experienced at this conference, from my fellow Pre-Accred. colleagues, as well as Andrew, Lisa, Martin Hodson and Glenn from the National Team.
I close with a grateful thanks for and to them all, to Martyn Link, and to you for your continued prayers for our Pre-Accredited ministers and chaplains.”
*Each way, doncha know!
“Before I began my journey of Baptist Pre-Accreditation, I was part of a ministry that took seriously the role of supporting and discipling staff members.
When I attended a conference, the time together felt more like a warm family gathering, full of opportunities for laughter, sharing, prayer, worship and fellowship. Upon leaving that ministry, I thought I was leaving these sorts of precious times behind me, since such a close gathering could be rare to find. Having attended the pre-accredited conference on two occasions now, I am delighted to say I was mistaken.
It is a joy to have the time and space to truly connect with one another as ministers and chaplains. At Airth Castle Hotel, we had ‘breathing space’ for deeper conversations. We had room to reflect on our own walk with God as well as our ministry contexts. We had ears to hear and hearts to listen to what the Spirit was prompting us on for the year ahead.
On this occasion, the conference was thoroughly enhanced by the presence and insights of Martin Lynk, our main speaker for the weekend. Not only experienced
in leadership and strategy, Martin also modelled honesty and vulnerability in our gathering, something we grew into as a group over the days. His seminars were so beneficial because, rather than fit us into prescribed leadership and personality moulds, we were encouraged to look back on our own experience and our own contexts to discover what God might be saying to us about how we lead, acknowledging the complexity of such a task. Exercises of reflection, both on biblical and personal examples, were revealing for myself and many others.
For me, the highlight of our conference was the time of worship on the Thursday night. After Paulus and the worship team led us in a few songs, Glenn Innes shared a powerful word with us, calling us to hunger for God above all else. It was a welcome call to refocus ourselves upon God, and a reminder of what being a minister is really all about! To experience that call alongside fellow ministers and chaplains made the moment all the more significant and memorable.
The Pre-Accredited Conference last year was the first time I felt like I was truly able to connect with others on that same journey. I am truly thankful to God for this conference and the blessing it is to me personally, to my relationships with fellow ministers and chaplains, and to my ministry. I am eager to see how all that has been gained from those precious two days impacts the weeks, months and perhaps even years ahead.”