Tuesday, September 6, 2022

The Baptist family

On Saturday, my reunions with former Spurgeon students were an utter delight.  Of course, I met several other members of the congregation. One man, slightly older than me was recognizable though his name had slipped my memory. A noted Baptist missionary he had served overseas for nearly twenty years before returning to minister in England, I knew him slightly through the Baptist network, and he shared how he had retired to the area to be nearer family.

However, I was a little startled to hear him say: 'We were upset and angry when we heard you were going to the States.  We said: Why go there when they already have plenty?  Why?'   Even as he spoke he still seemed upset!   Twenty-two years later!  When I tell my Baptist story I obviously include the fact that in 2000 Carol and I felt called to move to Northern Seminary, near Chicago.   I knew at the time that some in the denomination were unhappy but I was surprised at this 'we' comment from someone I barely knew. 

Comments like these, totally unexpected and heartfelt, wake you up to wider dynamics and relationships. I guess such comments reinforce the sense of belonging to a wider Baptist family!  We do share cares and concerns about each other and can miss each other!  That's humbling and rather wonderful.

Carol and I do believe that God was calling us to take the risk and serve in another branch of the Baptist family, albeit in the US, and we also believe we can discern 'signs following' that authenticated this was God's call.  But this comment was a reminder about the reality of Baptist belonging.  I shall hold this in mind as I recount part of my oral Baptist story.  

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