Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Baptist Assembly in Bournemouth

The last time I was at Bournemouth for a Baptist Union Assembly was in my first year in pastoral ministry. That seems a long time ago. Kevin & Trina featured on that occasion as I stayed with them. This time Cazz and I spent a splendid afternoon with them. Kevin is the principal clarinet in the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, a stunning player - listen to his Nielson Concerto on Naxos - and a bonus was a huge number of reeds which he can't use but that our son Andrew will find more than adequate.  

Meeting people is one of the best parts of Assembly and there were several really enjoyable conversations. It was a treat to have coffee with our good friend (and my best man) John Wilson who serves with BMS in Lyons.

A huge amount of work goes into this annual event, and so a big thank you to all who will spend the best part of this week unloading and getting over it. And a special tribute to my friends in the Communications Department, and particularly Amanda, for her contribution.

The big challenge of the event is that 'you can't please all of the people all of the time', and so it's interesting to read the comments in the blogosphere, which so far are largely positive. Many people attend for the main events, and of these, again, the presentation of ministers at the end of their period as newly accredited ministers was moving. In the BMS World Mission event on Saturday evening, it was good to hear David Coffey speak in a short interview, succinctly and incisively, on the importance of engaging in dialogue with those of other faiths.

And then there were the afternoon events, many of which looked fascinating but which I'll have to listen to on CD some other time. I attended 'God and the Art of Seeing' with Richard Kidd and Graham Sparkes. I expected this to be stimulating and inspiring and wasn't disappointed. In all of the many words spoken at an assembly, this was an event where words were measured and were given space, as we thought about the gift of imagination, the effort of attention, and the search for depth.  And it reinforced for me the conviction that Christianity, which has been spiritually impoverished by the church's attitude to art, and our Baptist part of the Church in particular, needs artists of all kinds, who will help us to explore our faith with imagination and depth; visual artists, poets, and yes, musicians! 

There were other good things too!

No comments: