Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Communion service at Baptist Assembly

This last weekend saw approx 1300 baptists joining together in a very sunny Blackpool for the annual Baptist Assembly; a time for us to gather in prayer, celebration and reflection about the life of our Baptist Union of Great Britain, and the work of BMS World Mission.

For the last few years I've had the privilege of being one of those who gets to shape some of the larger sessions, we have the somewhat utilitarian title of "session Design Group". It has been a thrilling experience seeing words we've crafted and laboured over be used in ways that have brought joy, peace, hope, laughter, as well as creating space for people to encounter God or access his word afresh.

This year I had the task of shaping a communion service that would be intergenerational, that is to say would speak in some way to people of every age. For various reasons there were some constraints (getting more than a thousand people moving around in a fairly full space can be tough, and we needed to include a sermon...).

Was it successful? In part, but not fully. Some things worked terrifically well for nearly everyone (I'd asked the Viz-a-Viz band "Taste" to perform in order to get people to dance, and they were amazing) and some things worked really well for some people (Creativity zones that blessed most of those who accessed them, but these were a minority of attenders overall). And there were some things that a lot of people struggled with.

When we came to actually break bread together, I had prepared a very simple way of doing this. My aim had been to re-empower the congregation by moving away from a lot of words from, the front, and for the invitation and explanation to come from amongst the gathered people. It was a way of reflecting that the power at work among us is Jesus power, not earthly priestly power. So, following a simple introduction we were then to have a question asked by a congregant, followed by everyone giving the answer. There was conversation afterwards about this, and a number of people expressed  desire to have the questions for use in their own setting, and to see how the script had intended the time to go. So I reproduce here the scripted part of the communion in the hope that it will enlighten the conversation about this part of the service, as well as provide a useful resource for the wider church.

Communion Question and Answer liturgy
In the passage we read, Paul says that every kind of earthly power is worth nothing when compared to Jesus. Paul speaks of wanting to know Jesus' power only, and to share in the life, death and new life found in Him.

As a reminder that we all share as equals in this meal, we are going to hear some questions that we will answer together.

Question 1Whose meal is this, and who can share in it?

Co-ordinator: We all say

Response 1 This table belongs to Jesus, and every person who hears His invitation to eat, drink, and begin a new life is welcome.

Q2 Why do we break and eat bread?

R2 On the night that Jesus was arrested, he shared a meal with his friends.

He took bread, and He broke it, and He gave some to each of them.

He told His friends that this was to  remind them of His body, which was going to be broken on the cross.

As we share in the bread at the same time, it reminds us that we are one family eating together.

Q3 Why do we drink wine?

A3 Jesus told us He was making a new start for everyone.

We drink wine to remind us that Jesus bled and died so we could be forgiven, so that we could forgive others, and so that we could begin again.

Q4 What should someone do if they don't understand or feel ready to follow Jesus?

A4 They could sit quietly, and ask for God's help to understand. They could talk to Him about the things that hold them back from following Jesus.

As a sign that they are on the way to faith and understanding they could take and eat one of the grapes today when the bread is served.

Parents and carers can help their children decide. 

Q5 How long will we keep on sharing in this meal?

A5 Until Jesus returns, and everyone will see His glory, power and beauty.

Come soon Lord Jesus!

Before we eat and drink. let's thank God for His gifts to us.

(extemporare prayer preferred here)

So now, we will break bread together (lifts and breaks bread) and then drink wine together (lifts the cup). You will be served where you are, and as the bread comes there will be one server who has grapes, looking for those not ready to share in communion, but still welcomed at this table. If they don't see you, please don't be embarrassed to catch their attention!

Once we’ve all taken and eaten bread, we’ll then be served with wine. As a sign of our unity we will wait until we’ve all been served before drinking, then drink together.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Excellent news!

This article it repeated here with kind permission from The Baptist Times
Lynn Green elected new General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain
Saturday, 04 May 2013 16:18

lynn-green-assemblyThe Revd Lynn Green has been unanimously elected as the next general secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain.
There were no votes against and only a handful of abstentions when Assembly delegates appointed Lynn to the role during a packed Baptist Union AGM on Saturday morning. She will take up the post in September 2013 and will become the first female general secretary of our Union.
After receiving a standing ovation she said how 'incredibly humbled and honoured' she felt, and how through the whole process 'we have all been seeking God together.' She paid tribute to her husband Stuart and all those who had supported her ministry, adding, 'This is not about me. It's about all of us. We are the Union.'
She was the unanimous choice of the General Secretary Nominating Group, Assembly heard, and had been unanimously endorsed by Baptist Union Council which met for a special meeting at the Norbreck Hotel in Blackpool on Friday afternoon.
Jenny Royal, both the moderator of Trustees and of the Nominating Group, told Assembly there had been 'complete unanimity' among the group in bringing Lynn's name forward.
A number who were on that group explained why Lynn had been chosen.
Gail Richards, a regional tutor with the Northern Baptist Learning Community, spoke of Lynn’s own sense of call to the role, how accessible she was, and the vision she had for moving our Union forward. 'She is an inspirational lady... a great visionary... we were struck by how prayerful, spiritual and prophetic she is.'
The Revd Joe Kapolyo, a trustee and minister of Edmonton Baptist Church, highlighted how the group had come to a 'very solid agreement', adding how happy he was to commend the choice.
The Revd Jane Day, regional minister of the Yorkshire Baptist Association, referred to Lynn’s confidence in her Baptist identity, and her vision for Baptist to be 'a confident people'. She also mentioned the significance of the being the first female appointed to the role. When the choice was made 'it felt like we have made history’.
The Revd Dr Nigel Wright, principal of Spurgeon’s College summed the process up by saying, ‘We all converged with great clarity on Lynn Green. We are confident that Lynn is the person who will lead us to the next stage.’
Lynn is well known to many within the Union and is currently a regional minister with the Southern Counties Baptist Association team.
Previously she served as minister at Wokingham Baptist Church and was team leader there for 11 years. She has also served our Union in many ways over the years, particularly as moderator of the Staffing committee and the Mission Executive. She was secretary of Mainstream (now Fresh Streams) for a number of years.
lynn-green-being-prayed-forLynn began her working life as a Marketing Manager with Royal Mail Parcels International. She subsequently became the Corporate Identity Manager for Royal Mail. Most of her working life has been bi-vocational, combining the calling to ministry with her vocation as a wife and mother. She has been married for 26 years to Stuart, who is Head of Audit with The Garden Centre Group. They have two children and also care for two children as Friends and Family Foster Carers.
There were no votes against nor abstentions when Lynn’s name was brought to a special meeting of Baptist Union Council on Friday afternoon.
At that meeting Lynn said she felt incredibly humbled, and the thing that had kept her going was ‘a deep sense of God’s call’.
She said she had been blessed with people with have been able to be ‘possibility thinkers’ in ler life, then added, ‘But in a sense it’s not about me. It’s about us. God has called and appointed all of us.’
Current General Secretary the Revd Jonathan Edwards, who will leave his post in July, spoke warmly about his successor.
'I am thrilled that the Baptist Union has recognised Lynn Green as General Secretary.
'Lynn has been an effective local minister for many years and her gifts have been well used as a regional minister in the Southern Counties Baptist Association over the past two years.
'She has served on Baptist Union Council and moderated the Staffing Committee for a number of years during which time we have recognised her sharp mind and gracious spirit.
'I feel a deep peace and great excitement for the Union as Lynn becomes our General Secretary. I urge the Baptist family to pray for Lynn and to give her all the love and support that I have been privileged to experience for the past seven years.'
Elsewhere the Revd Roberta Rominger, the General Secretary of the United Reformed Church, who was an ecumenical member of the search group, voiced her support.
She said, 'I am delighted and very excited at this appointment. It was a privilege to be a member of the nominating group and to share in the unfolding process of discernment.
'It is clear to me that God is calling Lynn to the post of General Secretary and that she has all the gifts needed to enable the Baptist Union to embrace a new future. I really look forward to working with her as one of my closest ecumenical partners.'
Lynn is excited by God's call to this ministry and is looking forward to serving our Union in this new role of General Secretary. Her vision is to see the vision and values expressed through the 'Futures process' - "Growing healthy churches in relationship for mission" - become reality. She said our Five Core Values - being prophetic, inclusive, sacrificial, missionary and worshipping communities - must be reflected in our life together.
She added, 'I also believe that we need a humble confidence that God is at work in us and through us. There are so many amazing stories of what the Lord is doing out there; God has certainly not finished with us yet.
'Alongside pioneering new ways of being church, I long to see many more local churches being encouraged and supported to transition beyond inherited patterns of church into vibrant mission communities. In doing this, I hope that we will be adventurous, take more risks and above all, be Kingdom possibility thinkers.'