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Simon Woodman
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Add the one for Ernest Lucas?
Toggle Commented Jun 10, 2013 on Baptist festschrifts at andygoodliff
Thank you David - well said.
One of the things which has been said to me a few times recently, and which seems implicit in some of the comments that are being aired at the moment, is that the BUGB is run on some kind of ‘Old Boys’ Network’. An Old Boys’ Network is a patriarchal system whereby people are given preferential access to power not based on willingness to participate combined with ability, but based on some other connection, such as having gone to the same school (College), or through some nepotistic family connection. This is a serious accusation, and an insidious one, which I think needs ‘outing’ and dealing with. So, some reflections on the Old Boys’ Network: a) Sometimes it happens. In any institution, and this includes BUGB, there will be those who get their voices heard for the wrong reasons. Whether it is their social status, their ethnicity, their gender, or some combination of all three, there will be those who are inappropriately excluded or included. This is what Paul is seeking to address in Galatians 3.28, and we need to take a kingdom stand against all such systems which exclude or prefer on such grounds. In the comments that follow, I fully recognise that I am writing from the perspective of an educated white male. Maybe this means I should not have a voice? Well, maybe… but it is still my voice, and I have no other, so here goes… b) I do believe that it is possible to engage BUGB processes and structures without needing to be an ‘old boy’. It simply isn’t all about whether your ‘face fits’. As one who has been on BUGB Council for a number of years now, I can attest that there are plenty there who break the stereotype, and whose voices are valued, prophetically heard, and which provide a lead on important issues. That said, we could do more, and we need to be alert to always seeking to hear from and include the marginal voices, because sometimes the prophetic voice is heard crying from the wilderness. One of the potential weaknesses of a group such as the Future’s Group is that its demographic inherently reflects the demographic of the centre (that’s how it was put together), so it is weighted towards the white, educated male. c) Younger/emerging leaders are in tension with those who have ‘emerged’. This is a dangerous dichotomy. Those who have been around a while can run the risk of capitulating to the status quo: they look at how far it has come, how different it all is from ‘when we were young’, and pat themselves on the back for the good work done in dragging the organisation kicking and screaming into the twenty first century, forgetting that some of those now in ministry were still at primary school in the year 2000. By the same token, those who are ‘emerging’ don’t have the history and background to contextualise the present, and run the risk of repeating the mistakes of the past. We need both perspectives, and neither should be taking pot-shots at the other! From a personal point of view, I have never known where I sit on this one. I’m not yet 40 for crying out loud! Am I ‘emerging’ or an old-hand? Which brings me to… d) When you do get into the processes, you automatically end up being suspected by those who are not. This is intensely frustrating. I’m not in this to ‘further my career’ and neither are most of those who I know. We give ourselves to this task because we love Jesus, are committed to his church, and believe that the Baptist expression of that church is of value and worth persevering with. I think you have to be in it to change it, so I’m in, with an agenda for change. e) Ministry does seem to run in some families, but this does not mean that those whose parents / grandparents / siblings / uncles / aunts are already well known should automatically have their voices suspected. That’s not fair and should not happen. We are in the middle of an important discussion here, and there are some profound issues that we need to pay attention to, but attacking or cynically undermining the integrity and credibility of those engaging the process on our behalf doesn’t help. By the same token, those who are driving this process need to continue to pay attention to those voices from the margins, and to do everything possible to ensure that as wide a constituency of Baptists as possible are included. I think a good start has been made, particularly through the use of web-based discussions and via Association networks, but as we move through the listening and consultative phase towards decision making, we will need to ensure that openness and accountability remain high on the agenda. My personal opinion is that Council should be as open a forum as possible, bearing in mind that sometimes it has to deal with personal and sensitive issues, in order to draw those beyond the walls of Swanwick into the debate. There is scope for widening consultation here , and making a more explicit link between the small group of Council and the wider Assembly.
Here's some further thoughts: What does this leave us with? A reduced denominational resource combined (with one theological training College), offered in conjunction with BMS / BUS? Decentralise all other functions to local networks – A move from institutionalisation to networking. Associations will function here, but in restructured form. Council becomes the forum for localised networks to come together Assembly become self-financing stand alone conference including AGM
We have inherited structures which are predicated on a modernist philosophy of organisational relationship. We have sold our birthright to Christendom in the interests of structural security and expressions of national power. The shift in Western patterns of relating and belonging since the 1940s has been away from such patterns of organised belonging, and towards networked relationships. The demise of Christendom leaves many bemoaning that we ‘used to be a Christian country’ This is seen in the decline in membership in our local churches. However, it is matched by a corresponding openness to explorations of spirituality which lead to ‘blurred edges’ within our churches. The creative churches are those which embrace this change and proclaim the eternal gospel in new ways. The same problem is affecting us at a national level: most of the people in our churches are no longer committed to our inherited and centralised expressions of belonging. We need to evolve structures which are appropriate to the context of post-Christendom As Baptists, we emerged in reaction to Christendom, and a rediscovery of localised patterns of belonging, congregational government, and voluntary church membership may offer us a way forwards here. Our new structures need to be true to our core convictions, locally focussed, institutionally light, and inherently adaptable.
A wonderful link to "Hurt" - thank you. We watched 'Walk the Line' again over Christmas... Have you come across Cash's book 'Man in White' - his biography of Paul? It's an interesting read, which possibly tells more about Cash than it does Paul.
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Jan 10, 2010