It's been raining in Rome, not that that's made any difference as there's been no opportunity to go outside. Still, tomorrow is Saturday and we finish at lunch-time, so some sun would be appreciated!
Continuing the emphasis upon Youth and Children, Morning Worship contained an address by Svejetlana Mraz on Proverbs 22.6, 'Train children in the right way'. Understandably, the music at the Council has an Italian feel, though today there was a decided Latin rhythm, with a kyrie eleison in the style of a bossa nova, and a benediction alla rumba. It was a tad disconcerting feeling the urge to shimmy while singing 'Lord, have mercy', but it did work, just!
The morning session began with a focus on Mission with inspiring stories from the Indigenous Mission Project (IMP) which has planted 110 churches since 2002. Its goal is to facilitate evangelism and the planting of new Baptist churches in Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. Some of these situations are far from comfortable and we heard of a pastor in Turkey who had been kidnapped, threatened with death, and police protected from extreme nationalists. It was good to hear in the same session about Baptist Muslim Encounters.
Hearing about challenges in other parts of Europe makes me think how very comfortable we are in many parts of the UK and how resource rich we are by comparison with many parts of Europe. During the break it was good to meet up again with Bader from the Association of Baptist Churches (ABC) in Israel and to hear news of the churches there.
The second part of the morning we came to the discussion of the resolution concerning the future of the International Baptist Theological Seminary (IBTS) followed by a decision. I don't want to pre-empt the reporting of this, but the discussion was very supportive and the decision nearly unanimous.
The session before lunch brought 'Encouraging Stories of what God is doing' from the Austrian Baptist Union, and the Baptist Union of Norway. Later on in the afternoon a session concerning an agreement between the EBF and the CPCE, the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, which might have been dry, turned out to be moving, particularly on account of the dark history between the Lutheran Church and the Anabaptists several hundred years ago.
After an evening meal I attended what was originally intended to be a small working group but became an open meeting to look at the issue of Christian marriage. Inevitably this included the broader issue of human sexuality and an open discussion was had in which convictions were shared and stories told. This felt to be the beginning of a conversation, the start of a journey, which I hope will be continued.
This was followed by a further Resolutions Committee to work on the statement again. A long day.