Sunday, 4 March 2012

Order for Baptist Ministry

Back in October, I posted on the first Baptist Order Convocation.  I didn’t feel able to follow that up with more news but am now in a better position to do so.
Over three days in October 2011, twenty-five people came together at All Saints Conference Centre, Hertfordshire, to explore further the possibility of establishing an Order that was distinctively Baptist.  
At the heart of the gathering was a rhythm of prayer - morning, mid-day, evening and night - drawing upon a variety of liturgies, mostly those that have been specifically written among ourselves for personal and cell group use.  This was particularly rich and nourishing, combining stillness and silence with carefully crafted words.  
We had opportunity to share the Dream, to hear from a number of ‘Holy Dreamers’, and to hold some discussion about different aspects of the Order.  Of special significance were the conversations we had with Brother John Hennings, once a Baptist minister, now a Franciscan Friar, who we invited as a guest.  Brother John was of enormous help, listening to our story and enabling us to consider the way forward.  Two main things that we took away were: what we’re doing is likely to be a lengthy process and one that shouldn’t be hurried; and we need to articulate the particular charism of what we’re about. 
Since then, a further period of conversation and reflection has taken place and in January, as the Core Group met to consider the story so far, important decisions were reached, especially concerning the name, the charism and our priority.
We’ve continued to struggle with the name, having adopted ‘Baptist Order’ until recently.  We feel that now we have settled on, ‘Order for Baptist Ministry’.  
Our charism, ‘We are an Order for Baptist Ministry who see ministry as a living means of grace to the church as together we mediate the presence of Christ in the world.‘  
‘Our priority is to encourage patterns and rhythms of relationship and devotional life that sustain this way of being.’
At the close of that day, we made our first vows with a real sense that this was God’s time to make this initial commitment.  
We’ve booked a venue for our second Convocation.  This time it will take place in the North, from 7-8 November 2012 and will be at Minsteracres Retreat Centre, near Consett, County Durham. 
For those of us who’ve been involved in this for over two years, it feels not so much like an arrival as a beginning!  We’ve much more to process as we continue this journey, but it seems as though a start really has been made.