Index of reports - click on link below to read report.

 

Nabil Costa's Visit 2015

 

James Greenwood Report

 

 Independent Baptist Thinking about Scottish Independence - Face to Face on 1st May 2014

 

Recording of morning with Roy McMullan September 2013 available by clicking on this link.

 

Visit of Baptist Historial Dr Ian Randall and his presentation on European Baptist History - October 2012

 

Recordings of the Prophetic Voices from the Margins Conference (organised jointly with CCI) - October 2012

 

Report on a morning of reflection with Pastor Alec Judd - September 2012

 

IBN visit to IBTS, Prague - May 2012

 

Celtic Connections - Visit by Mark Owen (Baptist Union of Wales - BUW) - April 2012

 

Pastoral Ministry Today Conference with Derek and Diane Tidball - November 2011

 

Visit to European Baptist Federation Council, Nazareth - September 2011

 

Visit of European Baptist Federation Executive Committee to Belfast - April 2011

 

Human Trafficking Conference and visit of Lauren Bethel - April 2011

 

Visit of Paul Montecute, Director of Baptist World Aid - February 2011

 

Visit to Scottish Baptist Assembly - October 2010

 

Dr Raymond Brown's Reflections on his visit to Belfast - September 2010

 

IBN Director's First Report - September 2010

 

IBN's first AGM - September 2010

 

Greeting from Paul and Christine Fleming - September 2010

 

Launch of IBN, Belfast, February 2010

 


 James & Hazel with Haden

 

The fellowship morning with James Greenwood was well attended and the many folk have expressed their appreciation for the morning.

Hearing from Ivan Watson, Pastor in Cavan and Jim Hancock his prayer partner from Texas (USA) was encouraging; across the miles we can have those who care and support a key border ministry

The interview with James , or Seamus- as he is known to many in Ballymena and beyond, was moving, challenging and insightful.

A sound recording of the interview will be available soon on the website ; also we will have a film of the interview available thanks to the help of Robert Hastings of Hastings ProVideo. For a copy contact info@ibnetworks.org.

We also took some time to remember with affection our good brother Joe White who until a year ago was Pastor of Downpatrick Baptist Church; Joe was a man with a big heart , a generous spirit and someone who was ambassador for his Lord and Saviour and a deeply respected Pastor and friend to many in the Downpatrick area. We extended our sympathy to his dear wife Joyce.

 


 

Indepentent Baptist Thinking about Scottish Independence

 

On 1st May 2014 Stuart Blythe, Acting Principal of the Scottish Baptist College, gave a paper called ‘Nationhood and Identity’ at a Face to Face evening organised by IBN. His paper was set against the backdrop of the forthcoming vote on Scottish Independence.

 

Could such a paper have anything other than passing interest for a Belfast audience? Well, yes it did. For the challenge that Stuart offered was less to do with thinking through the issues of regarding Scottish independence, which have been well rehearsed in the media, than with thinking through a Baptist perspective on issues of nationhood and identity.

 

For Baptists in Ireland Stuart raised a number of important matters. He pointed out that although Scottish Baptists often said these things do not matter, the reality is they do. So too in Ireland, we often act as if the big political issues of the day do not really matter to Baptists. Yet, we do not have to scratch too far beneath the surface to discover that they really do matter. As Stuart pointed out there is a need for us to at least talk to one another about these crucial issues.

 

The main thrust of Stuart’s address was with regard to thinking these matters through as Baptists. Do Baptists bring a distinctive perspective to political issues? Stuart argued that Baptist polity provided something of a model for political institutions i.e. local, accountable, participatory governance.

 

Perhaps, the great single issue raised by Stuart was suitably a biblical one. He noted that if we do not think about issues of nationhood and identity from a biblical perspective then we are in danger of surrendering the lordship of Christ in this important part of our lives. As Christians our primary identity is found in Christ. We need to work through what that means in the political realm whether we cast our vote in Scotland or in Ireland.

 

This brief report of a stimulating evening was written by David Luke who along with Stephen Murphy responded to the paper presented by Stuart.   A copy of Stuart’s paper can be requested by emailing info@ibnetworks.org. A recording of the evening is also available on request.

 


 

Vist of Baptist Historian Dr Ian Randall

 

We were delighted to be able to facilitate the visit of Dr. Ian Randall to Northern Ireland and delighted that the Historical Society had him as their speaker on Thursday 11th October at 8.00pm.

Dr Ian Randall presented a paper entitled: The Creation of a European Baptist Community: Pan-European Developments from the 1840s to the 1920s.

 

A recording of his presentation can be found on the Irish Baptist Historical Society web pages. Click here and scroll down to the 2012 presentations and you will find Ian Randall's presentation (and quite a few other interesting presentations as well).

 

Dr Randall has had a distinguished ministry in pastoral and theological academic life. He entered pastoral ministry in the mid 1980s and from 1992 has taught in Spurgeon’s College, London and the International Baptist Theological Seminary, Prague.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and has published extensively on British and European Baptist history. His extensive knowledge of European Baptist history promises both an interesting and stimulating presentation.

 

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Prophetic Voices from the Margins Conference 2012

 

Stuart Murray Williams and Roy Searle led four sessions at the conference exploring a number of themes.  You can listen to the four main sessions of the conference by clicking on the links below.  If you encounter any problems with the links let us know by using our Contact page.

 

Stuart Murray Williams: The Contemporary Context of PostChristendom

 

Stuart Murray Williams: The Anabaptist Story and Contribution

 

Roy Searle: Following the Celtic Trail

 

Roy Searle: New Monasticism

 

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Blessings, Brothers, and Blackbirds

 

 

On Thursday 13th September 2012 Pastor Alec Judd shared with us something of his life story including his conversion, call to ministry and experience of God’s faithfulness over more than fifty years.  The event took place in Alec’s home church, Moira Baptist (kindly granted to us for the morning) and was followed by an opportunity for fellowship with Alec and Joan over lunch which had been provided by members of Moira Baptist.

Pastor Judd

 

Blessings

Charting his early childhood with his twin brother in Kent during WWII through to his employment in Barclays bank on leaving school at the ripe old age of 14 to his National Service in the RAF Alec told of both his constant belief in God while being, as he described it, ‘steeped in self righteousness’.  Alec spoke of how he used to read the Bible ‘with a pair of scissors’, cutting out the bits he didn’t like.  While serving in the RAF in Germany both Alec and his brother were converted following which Alec eventually went to London Bible College to train for ministry.  He held pastorates in Woodstock Road Baptist in Oxford, Grosvenor Road Baptist in Dublin, Toxteth Baptist in Liverpool and finally Lurgan Baptist in Northern Ireland.  One of the defining moments in his early Christian experience occurred when in response to his prayers for power in ministry he had an overwhelming awareness of God speaking clearly to him saying ‘don’t seek experiences, seek my Son’.  This, along with experiences such as proving the reality of Philippians 4:19, ‘my God shall supply all your needs...’, during challenging financial times in his first pastorate laid the foundation for an approach to ministry that helped keep a focus on God, his provision and his faithfulness.  Alec’s candour in sharing his journey made it clear to those of us privileged to be present that his presentation was no ego trip but a sincere and open sharing of the highs and lows of a lifetime of ministry.

Pastor Alec & Mrs Joan Judd

 

Brothers

One of the fascinating subtexts of Alec’s sharing with us was the way in which his life and that of his twin brother have been so closely intertwined.  Anyone who has seen them together will have noticed the remarkable physical similarity but could not guess at the parallel experiences of spiritual development that has taken place.  There was something very heart warming about the brotherly relationship revealed in the undercurrent of Alec’s story.

 

Blackbirds

Well, Alec shared a wonderful story about a Blackbird, but if you want to know the details you’ll need to ask him.  It’s rather too precious to glibly post on the internet.

 

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IBN visits IBTS, May 2012

 

Report by Norman Sinclair

Well, not quite all of IBN – a group of seven from 4 churches – Coleraine, Newry, Strandtown and Windsor – flew from Dublin to Prague to learn more of the ministry of the International Baptist Theological Seminary (IBTS) in Prague.  Our hosts for the week were our Chairman and his wife, better known as David and Dorothy McMillan, who were in residence at the time.

The Campus is large, indeed very large, but meets the needs of many European Baptist students over many courses, and from many countries, being equipped for Christian service through excellent lecturers and possibly the premier Baptist library in Europe.

Having visited Prague previously as tourists, my wife and I were looking for something more – and find it indeed we did!  Lesson 1 for me was the dawning realisation of my (our?) misconception that the UK is the centre of Europe, - whereas we are on the very fringe.  We easily forget that the first English-speaking Baptist Church was in Amsterdam in 1609, and that disagreements over theology were as rife then as they are now.  John Smyth/Thomas Helwys didn’t quite see eye to eye back then.  Some things don’t change over time.

On Campus were a highly motivated group of students, learning under a skilled, committed, and challenging team of lecturers from different countries, some of whom had come through the background of Communist oppression now working out their faith in a committedly Baptist environment, amidst a growingly secular society in Central Europe.

Our second day was spent visiting many of the tourist areas, from the Castle down through Mala Strana to Charles Bridge, enjoying the ‘tourist’ bit, the jazz music in the air, and the splendid coffee shops  which David had researched during his time in Prague.  The evening was special – meeting a group of young students, learning from them their backgrounds, reasons for being at IBTS, and how the hoped to use their time at IBTS as a grounding for future careers.  Many of them grew up in Communist environments.

 

Day 3 took us back to Prague, where we started at Wenceslas Square seeing the spot where Jan Palach burned himself to death in 1969, an act that eventually led to the ‘Velvet Revolution’ of 1998 marking the end of Communist rule.  We visited the Museum of Communism, which gave us some understanding of what the country had suffered under Communist Rule, and later in the day visited the Crypt of the Church of St Cyril and St Methodius.  It was here that those involved in the assignation of Reinhard Heydrich, Nazi Governor of Prague during WWII were martyred, betrayed by a ‘friend’.  Whole villages were wiped out in reprisal by the Nazis.

 

Day 4 was Sunday, the Lord’s Day and we joined Sarka Valley Community Church for its weekly Morning Worship Service and its monthly Agape meal during which we were able to bring greetings from Baptists in Ireland.  As a Baptist for over 50 years I found this one of the most authentic Communion Services I have ever experienced.  After the Worship service was over we retired to the Dining Hall, where we commenced with the Breaking of Bread (sharing the symbol of the body of Christ), followed by an excellent lunch, and concluding by sharing wine (the symbol of the blood of Christ) seeming to me a much more authentic copy of the ‘Lord’s Supper’ than perhaps I had ever done before.

Sunday afternoon saw us walking a beautiful valley beside the Castle (IBTS), through some welcoming heavy rain, prior to an evening meal at David and Dorothy’s followed by an inspiring time of talk, question and answer by one of the Seminary lecturers, a woman called Lina Andronoviene who grew up under Communist rule in Lithuania.

 

Day 5 was upon us too quickly, time to go home, with grateful thanks to IBTS for hosting us, to the Lord, who through his servants had challenged us, and to David and Dorothy for being superb hosts.

A sad PS – within recent days we heard that IBTS may be moving on to a new base in Amsterdam in 2014.  We had just made a very timely, blest and enjoyable visit.

 

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Pastoral Ministry Today  Conference with Derek and Diane Tidball

 

Diane Tidball led the first session and spoke on 'Facing Conflict in the Church'.    The session begins with an introduction to IBN by David McMillan and you can listen to the session here.

 

Derek Tidball spoke on 'Leadership issues today'.  You can listen to his presentation here. The session was introduced by John Warke, Vice Chair of IBN.

 

 

 

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ABCI celebrates 100 years of witness and ministry!

 

 

No, not the Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland, that centenary was back in 1995, but the Association of Baptist Churches in Israel.  Last September I had the privilege of going to Nazareth to attend the European Baptist Federation (EBF) annual Council meetings hosted in 2011 by ABCI as part of special centenary celebrations.

 

While the Association of Baptist Churches in Israel was not formed until the 1960s the story of Baptist witness begins in 1911.  A year earlier in 1910 Shukri Musa from upper Galilee travelled to the USA, was converted and later baptised by Rev George Truett in First Baptist, Dallas.  He returned to Palestine in 1911 and in May of that year baptised his first convert.  Shortly afterwards he moved to Nazareth and planted the first Baptist church in the town.  Despite initial persecution Musa’s ministry was fruitful and after the First World War the Southern Baptists supported the work in Nazareth, which led in turn to the planting of Baptist churches in Jerusalem and Haifa.  The work in Nazareth continued with the establishment of a school in 1935, which to this day is considered one of the leading schools in the country providing education for children of all backgrounds.  However, following the war of independence in 1948 and the establishment of the state of Israel many Arab believers were displaced or had to leave the country, profoundly affecting Baptist witness. In the following years there were many ups and downs but in 1965 an Association of Baptist Churches was established.  Today the work continues to grow with 20 member churches and the witness to the gospel remains strong.  You can learn more about the history and witness of Baptists in the Holy Land at www.baptist.org.il .

 

Do pray for our Baptist brothers and sisters as they seek to continue to witness to Christ in difficult situations within the state of Israel and the Palestinian territories.  For example, in February this year Jewish extremists attacked the Narkis Street Baptist church in Jerusalem spraying the walls and cars with threats against the believers. The land where Jesus lived is not an easy place to witness to his death and resurrection.

 

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Celtic Connections – Visit by Mark Owen

 

(Baptist Union of Wales- BUW)

 

Mark Owen, Church Life Secretary& Director for Mission in the B U W, visited Northern Ireland over the weekend Friday 30th – Monday 2nd April. The weekend began with a very enjoyable visit to Ravenhill to see Ulster play Arioni and yes he did “Stand Up for the Ulstermen”!

 On Saturday Holywood Baptist Church hosted a morning get-together when about 25 people heard Mark tell something of work among Baptist Churches within the Welsh Baptist Unions-both english and welsh speaking.

 

In an interview with Alistair McNeice (Pastor of Holywood) Mark related how he came to know the Lord and was led into pastoral ministry. He then spoke with enthusiasm of exciting developments in churches in Wales since leadership of the Union changed in 2005 with two new appointments – a new General Secretary, Peter Thomas and him. He outlined how  with clear leadership from the top, and learning from experiences within the Great Britain and Scottish Baptist Unions,the  administrative structure of B U W was streamlined and simplified with a fresh emphasis on a missional approach working with local churches on how to engage the gospel effectively with their communities. The approach involved taking “snapshots” in the form of audits on where churches were and what were the pressing needs of the local community. While successful church growth and development did not always happen, Mark gave vivid and challenging examples of how they had “seen incredible changes in many churches” which were transformed through innovative evangelism in their localities often in association with other non-Baptist churches. He emphasised the importance of partnership between churches and the dangers of isolationism.

 

In a lively discussion after he had spoken, Mark described the pattern the twenty-first church as “messy church” with no 'one fits all' model but all needing three essential qualities – the prominence of the Word of God; being rooted in the community; and recognition that church organisation had to take account of the busyness of life for many and reduce the number of meetings and committees to a minimum to free people to engage with non-Christians! He left us with the challenging statistic that within five years of becoming a Christian most people lose 95% of their non-Christian friends! He left us with a comment to reflect on –“in church life we should not ask how we can grow but rather “why are we not growing?”

 

Mark meet a number of people over the weekend and he preached in Ballycrochan Baptist Church  and in Greenisland Baptist Church. His ministry was well received as he preached with passion and conviction.   Pastor Leslie Hutchinson commenting on the visit said: "It was great to hear from Marc what God is doing in the Baptist churches in Wales. His vision, enthusiasm for preaching God's Word, and passion for mission were very encouraging."  

 

Mark’s warm and open personality, along with his evangelical passion, left us all feeling challenged and encouraged. He will be returning to pastoral work in Moriah Baptist Church in Risca, a small town near Newport. He will have a continuing part-time role with the Baptist Union of Wales. We pray for him as he moves to this new chapter in ministry.

 

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Report on the visit of the European Baptist Federation Executive Committee to Belfast, 9-11 April 2011

 

 

IBN were delighted to host our EBF brothers and sisters for their Executive meeting the weekend in April.  The reactions of our visitors and of some of our host churches tell the story. For many it was a first visit to Ireland and hopefully not the last. IBN were encouraged at the warm welcome given by 10 churches to our visiting speakers.

 

 

  

Daniel   Trusiewicz   from Poland comments:

 

 I’m very happy that in April I had a unique opportunity to get to meet some Christian leaders in Northern Ireland when the EBF Executive assembled for its annual Executive meeting in Belfast. I appreciated exceptional hospitality of our friends from our friends in Irish Baptist Networks. I particularly enjoyed preaching in the Baptist Church in Newry.  

  

It was a superb opportunity to build relationships with our Irish colleagues. It was first time for me to visit in N. Ireland and I thoroughly enjoyed being exposed to something of the rich history and cultures of the Irish nation.  

  

I trust and pray that we can continue growing together and also implement some practical cooperation. There are a number of possibilities including also the Indigenous Mission Project which has been developed by the EBF to facilitate the church planting in the economically deprived nations of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. We have witnessed hundreds of new congregations emerging over the years and dozens of new requests arrive to us each year.   

Those who are interested to know more about this exciting initiative may visit the web site: www.ebf.org/imp and contact me by email: imp@ebf.org  

  

With best regards,  

Daniel

 

 

Hans Guderian became the president of EBF in September. He comes from Germany and has served in several pastorates, been General Secretary of the European Baptist Mission. He is now pastor of the Baptist Church in Berlin-Obersch neweide. 

 

Dear brothers and sisters,

 

What a wonderful visit to your country! In April the EBF Executive met in Belfast and experienced a beautiful landscape and a great hospitality. Some experiences had been remarkable:

 

- the sightseeing tour through Belfast including both sides of the city, the wall paintings, the memorials to the long time of civil war, the demarcation line (which reminded me as someone coming from the city of Berlin/Germany to the many sad years of living with the Berlin wall and with the separation of families and friends) and the courageous new beginnings towards reconciliation and peace;

 

- the wonderful hospitality of the leaders of the "Irish Baptist Networks", the very tasteful and really delicious great meals (!) cooked and served by the dear brothers from Northern Ireland and

 

- the visit to speak at Downpatrick Baptist Church on Sunday morning, a crowded assembly, a harmonious atmosphere and a wonderful fellowship afterwards with lots of encounters with young and old people.

 

And even more:  over the whole weekend we had wonderful warm springtime weather and a profitable meeting for our Executive. We all appreciated your country and your people very much. Thank you for all your care and love!

 

My wife and I will certainly come back to Northern Ireland and to Belfast.

 

Yours in Christ, Hans Guderian

 

 

Ian Grant – Pastor of Armagh Baptist Church who welcomed a speaker comments.

 

 The Armagh Church enjoyed having a visit from Toivo Pilli. He brought greetings from his church in Tartu, Estonia, and shared very helpfully from God’s Word. His message was well illustrated from life in Estonia both before and after communism. He was very easy to listen to, and to understand. Our folk left very encouraged by his ministry that morning. Afterwards, Toivo sent me a very helpful article that he had written for Transmission magazine, which gave a very honest view of what life was like for our Estonian brothers and sisters under communism. We have a lot to learn from the experience of fellow Baptists in other parts of the world. Many thanks to IBN for introducing us to Toivo.

 

 

Livija Lame comes from Latvia. She is President of the European Baptist Women’s Union, which encourages work amongst women across Europe and the N Middle East.

 

It was my first time to visit Northern Ireland. Over the years I had heard a lot of stories, but when I was in your country, I was amazed about many things and how well organized and developed is your society.  I had a flight in the best airplane I have ever experienced to Belfast!  It was a most enjoyable experience to meet your people. I was happy to learn about your churches and your ministry through IBN. I had a privilege, together with Keith Jones to visit Lambeg Baptist church for the Sunday morning service.  We were both made most welcome and I felt a warm sense of God’s Spirit. We received hospitality from Pastor Geoff Donaldson and his wife Rosaline at their home. I am so happy and privileged to meet people from your country.  One thing- I am longing to get to know more about women’s ministry, but it was too short time for that. If some woman would like to have fellowship with EBWU, they will be most welcome at EBWU conferences- we hold one each year. Visit our webpage: www.ebwu.org.

 Thank you dear friends for your hospitality and may God bless your service to our dear Heavenly Father.

Livija Lame:  EBWU president.

 

 

Bobby Jennings an elder in Magherafelt Baptist Church has commented on their visit from Nabil Costa who spoke during their missionary weekend.

 

“Over the years our Lord has taught us to seek in every challenge an opportunity to light a candle” These words form Nabil Costa Executive Director of the Lebanese Baptist Society and Vice President of Baptist World Alliance sum up his sermon on 10th April.  Nabil focused on Matthew 5:1-12 and through the beatitudes challenged us to live out Kingdom values in our society. Using illustrations form his experience in  Lebanon he gently but persuasively helped us not only to understand something of the situation for Arab Christians in the Middle East but also gave us an insight into how we should be open to God-given opportunities to serve our community in Mid Ulster.

Nabil’s central tenet was that we can only be effective if we maintain biblical principles and not individualistic diverse interpretations of God’s word. It was a great privilege for us to welcome an outstanding Christian leader very much attuned to our circumstances in Northern Ireland and one who brings vast experience of Christian living in a difficult conflict solution.

We are grateful to Irish Baptist Networks for facilitating the visit. 

 

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Human Trafficking Conference and visit of Lauran Bethell to Ireland – April 2011.

 

 

When IBN asked Dr. Lauran Bethell to come and share something of her work amongst exploited women across the world, we really didn’t know much about the extent of Human Trafficking and prostitution in our society. Several of us had heard Lauran speak at an EBF event and we were impressed by her Godly passion to deal with a significant social evil. In discussing her coming, she indicated she was often in a situation where she “just turned up and waited to see what the Holy Spirit woud do”.

So, we tentatively thought of her getting the opportunity to speak in some churches - which she did at Greenland and Windsor where she was warmly received.  A conference, probably for church and faith leaders in our society, seemed to be a good idea – but would it really work?

 

Emphatically, God had His hand on our tentative plans!  On hearing and viewing an advertisement about BLUE BLINDFOLD - Human Trafficking happening in our neighbourhoods in Northern Ireland - a few phone calls later we were talking with senior Department of Justice officials, PSNI, and others folks working in Migrant Help and Women’s Aid.  Each door we knocked opened quickly and we sensed we were being affirmed.  No organisation had before brought together key folk from the Faith, Voluntary and Statutory sectors to discuss and address this issue in our community.

As they say, “the rest is history!”

  • an overbooked conference
  • David Ford, the Minister for Justice, opening the Conference;
  • disturbingly challenging talks from all speakers
  • obvious passion and integrity from those seeking to deal with this on our behalf
  • a sobering challenge to those of us who claim Christian faith and care for our communities

The need to address this major organised crime became even more pertinent  when Douglas Grant, from PSNI, came to the conference directly from a police raid in which 2 women, caught in the vice of Human trafficking, were released from their captor.

Robin Watson’s insightful report of the conference sums it up so well - see below.

 

Is it only history - with the problem unresolved?  There was enough interest generated from this Conference for Migrant Help to run a follow-up Day Seminar for those wishing to take a further step with this cancer in our society.

Within the faith community, Lauren met and encouraged the leaders of the TIRZAH group (www.tirzah.ie) now working on the streets of Dublin. She inspired some folk from different churches, already concerned about Belfast, and has helped them to focus on what more can be done.  Please pray for all involved in seeking to deal with this evil in our society which is on a scale much greater than other UK cities and regions.

 

One of our IBN Steering Group members made this comment:

“In 40 years of Christian service, no other Conference has made me realise quite as much as this one how God can just take an unstructured invitation and turn it around for His glory and the ultimate betterment of our society”.

 

 

Reflection on the conference by Robin Watson (Finaghy Baptist Church)

 Before going to this event, organised by Irish Baptist Networks, I had a fairly superficial understanding of what the issue was about. I had seen some evidence of the causes of it, and like most Christians, I suspect, it was way out of my radar, and I had little concern about it. Another member in Finaghy Baptist Church was concerned enough about it to circulate news from time to time, about a campaign called “Stop the Traffik” and this had alerted me to my lack of concern. I decided to go and learn more. That decision was important in that it was a day of great challenge and all who attended were left with no doubt that this was a subject which should engage the Christian conscience, with a resolve to try and do something to eradicate the evil.

The conference was well attended. Indeed it was oversubscribed. Attendees came from several public bodies and across the faith community and I was struck with the passion with which all the speakers engaged with the subject. This was not intellectual exercise, these people werewanting to tell us something that they cared about and which we needed to hear.

David Ford, Minister of Justice at the Northern Ireland Assembly gave an overview of the situation in Northern Ireland, and what the Assembly were doing about the problem.  He urged people across Northern Ireland to be aware that human trafficking is happening in the region and said....

"By its very nature human trafficking is a clandestine crime and it is therefore very difficult to quantify the scale of the problem in Northern Ireland. What we do know however is that it is happening here and we must do all we can to help victims and bring perpetrators to justice. It is important that everyone in society understands what this crime is and  how they can help and I commend the Irish Baptist Network for focusing on this issue at their conference. Law enforcement agencies are seeing successes in this area but, with further cooperation across society, I truly believe we can bear down on this heinous crime and free victims from a dreadful situation."

Douglas Grant of the PSNI graphically quantified the local problem with some statistics and some photographs, leaving us with no doubt that the problem had a significant increasing local dimension.  He emphasised the need for us all to develop our awareness and sensitivities so that we can be part of the corrective process.

Mike Emberson of Migrant Help spoke next. Migrant Help seeks to be there for distressed foreign nationals in the UK whenever and wherever it can. During the early 1990s it began to develop its services to asylum seekers and under the leadership of Annie Ledger OBE it became a significant UKBA (United Kingdom Border Agency) contract holder for support services, a situation which continues to this day.

Dierdre Teague from Women’s Aid highlighted how their work from time to time identified cases of Trafficking and what they did when this happened.

The main speaker at the conference was Lauran Bethell.  At the Baptist World Alliance congress in 2005, Lauran was honoured by being awarded the Human Rights Award, presented to her by President Jimmy Carter. She has been working for more than two decades on behalf of, and caring for, women who have been exploited and abused.

Lauran related some of her experience, and passionately exhorted us to be more alert and aware of this growing malaise in society. I now realise that this is something that we as Christians, with a professed understanding of the value of a human being, must positively take action to eradicate. To do otherwise would demonstrate a huge hole in my Christian life and thinking.

 The day ended with short presentations from Tirzah, Embrace (NI) and the Statutory Services. Tirzah is a response by Evangelical Alliance (Ireland) to the growing problem in the Republic of Ireland.

As a Christian the challenge is that this issue of Human Injustice needs the active involvement of us all. I came away from the conference with a verse from Matthew 25 reverberating in my conscience. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

It was a good conference to be at.

Thank you Irish Baptist Networks!

 

 

For those who want to know more the following links give vital information.

http://www.ibnetworks.org/human_trafficking_conference.html (all the presentations at the conference can be heard here)

http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/de/index/media-centre/news-departments/news-doj/news-doj-220311-ford-adresses-human.htm

http://www.policeoracle.com/news/PSNI-Tackles-Human-Trafficking_22197.html

http://www.migranthelpline.org.uk

http://www.internationalministries.org

http://www.tirzah.ie

http://www.stopthetraffik.org

http://www.embraceni.org

 

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VISIT OF PAUL MONTECUTE- Baptist World Aid Director- to Northern Ireland

 

 

Paul Montecute paid a flying visit to Northern Ireland on2-3rd February for one particular reason- to thank Irish Baptists for their generous response through Irish Baptist Aid to o the Baptist World Aid Haiti appeal following the earthquake in January 2010. We Irish Baptists led the field in the generosity of our response in spite of our relatively small numbers.

 

An evening event was arranged at short notice and Belfast Churches were invited to Windsor Baptist Church where Roy Gamble hosted a mid-week service, in co-operation with Irish Baptist Networks.  It was a unique opportunity for Paul to tell us a little about himself, the work of Baptist World Alliance and of Baptist World Aid of which he is the Director.

 

Paul is an Englishman now living in the USA. He came across as a warm, wise and very perceptive leader in this field. We learned about rehabilitation and aid activity being carried out in the name of Jesus Christ in such places as Sri Lanka, Kosovo, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Cuba and Haiti. The principal focus of Paul’s report was Haiti where immediate search and rescue help  was given as soon as a seven person team could get into Haiti. This was followed by teams providing medical assistance, emergency supplies and provision of shelter and safety despite awful difficulties.  Help continues to be given in the rebuilding an orphanage and a school and in the building of homes designed to withstand future shocks. Arguments over the ownership of land and the presence of so much debris is stalling the provision of homes for the many Haitian people, still displaced and living in temporary shelters.

 

We were delighted that the Association President, Pastor Rob Millar, and the Vice-President and his wife, Victor and Iris Kennedy were with us to meet Paul over dinner, to participate in the service, hear his talk and pray for the on-going work

 

 The following morning Paul visited the Baptist Centre and met the Association Director and other staff before continuing on his journey back to Washington, USA.  

 

Paul came and say thank you in person to us en-route back to USA from Berlin; he urged us to continue to pray for the vital ministry of Baptist World Aid which Irish Baptists so generously supported in 2010. We were left feeling valued and loved within the worldwide Baptist family and part of a global enterprise for the glory of God.  

 

 

For further information on Baptist World Aid see   www.bwanet.org/bwaid

 

 

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Report on Visit to Scottish Baptist Assembly 28-30 October 2010

 

by Norman Sinclair and Stephen Adams

 

When talking with friends before going to the Assembly the general reaction we got was –“that is not my idea of how to spend 3 days away” Well they were wrong!  It proved to be a stimulating and challenging time (run jointly by BUS and BMS World Mission) when everyone’s commitment to kingdom values through Baptist church life  and mission was shaken a stirred; it lived up to the theme-COMMUNITIES of CONVICTION.

 

 Our friends in the Baptist union of Scotland are going through challenging times; under the leadership of their new general director Revd . Alan Donaldson they are dealing with financial structural and  property matters to help them face forward in God’s mission to their nation and the wider world.  We sensed it was an Assembly when the leadership and the delegates were recovering confidence and conviction under Christ their only head. At the end Alan agreed that the Assembly has exceeded his expectations as it “had captured a heart and desire to re-engage with our core community as well as other Kingdom people in Scotland and the wider world.

 

The worship was inspiring –under Andy Scrcliffe’s leading; Stuart Blythe (Scottish Baptist College) said something had gone badly wrong when our doctrine, doxology and dynamic experience does not lead to discipleship. Parush Parushev(from IBTS) encouraged us to “have convictions which enable us to speak into our fragmented and pain filled society.” Marc Owen  (from B U Wales) challenged us to be used in making disciples of Christ and not just converts!

Helpful historical perspectives were given in several sessions by Dr Ian Randall(Research tutor Surgeons’ College) drawing from his work on the history of Baptists across Europe-Communites of Conviction, and BMS workers from Brazil, Italy, Uganda and Beirut were brought into the Assembly by bringing the scripture readings  for the sessions as was a Socttish Baptist chaplain from Afghanistan.

 

 Over the three days we were made most welcome even of some folk were puzzled as to why two of us had come over to join the 400 local delegates. For many Irish Baptist Networks was new to them this led to useful conversations;-invariably the reaction was really positive.  On the Saturday morning we received a public welcome from the Convenor of the Assembly.

 

We were encouraged make it an annual visit (like used to happen- many years ago) or to invite others to come back for Women’s Union and other activities .Our Scottish Brothers and sisters would like more associating in our shared witness for the Lord.  And, of course, there were many folk from here who were glad to hear another Northern Ireland accent and have a bit of “craic”. It was particularly good to renew fellowship with Noel McCullins- recently retired and now working to network the Baptist churches across Ayrshire.; Ken Bleakley (from the “Tab”-who pastors in Larbert) and Daniel Pollin the youngest of the new pastors received in (whose home church is Finaghy) and who now has pastoral responsibilities for the  coastline Community Church in East Neuk (Pittenweem) .

 

“It was encouraging to meet pastors who I had known in Scotland some 40 years ago whose fellowship at the Assembly led us to other good contacts and conversations.” Norman

 

“It was time well spent seeing and hearing from our nearest Baptist neighbours; a thoroughly positive experience and a challenge to be communities of conviction in our own situations here” Stephen 

 

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Reflections of Raymond Brown on his visit to Belfast in Sept. 2010

 

'It was a great joy to be back in Northern Ireland recently and Christine and I want to thank Irish Baptist Networks for their kind and warm-hearted invitation. Thank you for arranging for so many friends, longstanding and new, to be present for our morning meeting at Finaghy and our warm thanks too for your gifts to us. I think of you all as I drink my morning coffee from the IBN mug; your lovely coffee-table book will remind us of 'Scenic Northern Ireland' and I look forward to reading 'New Loyalties'. We appreciate your generosity and love.

 

 I found it a specially moving experience to be back among you, recalling the warm fellowship of years ago, and was pleased to speak with you all that morning from Psa.66 esp. v. 16 about 'what the Lord has done for me'. I am so deeply grateful to Him that among the Lord's many undeserved gifts to me is the loving partnership of God's People - to whom we are all so deeply indebted. We belong together. Over my life many Northern Ireland friends have greatly enriched my life. I was deeply touched that on that Friday morning Victor Kennedy was able to take a greeting from me direct to Ernest Lloyd (in his late nineties) who was a huge influence in my very early Christian life when I was a young airman doing my National Service. During our stay IBN kindly made the opportunity for me to meet some friends of other denominations from my Convention ministry days which was a rich additional blessing; and the visit closed for us with a greatly appreciated opportunity to preach again in Hamilton Road at their Sunday morning service. Thank you all again for such a radiantly happy visit.

 

On the Friday morning I had in my notes a quotation I did not use. I was aware that the time had gone and a delicious hot lunch was about to be delivered at the Church! But, during a life's ministry, these words have never been very far from my mind whenever I have thought about by indebtedness to the people of God, by whatever name they may be called. They were spoken by Harold St. John, an outstanding teacher among Christian Brethren at the close of one of their Conferences in 1955: 'There are those with whom our consciences will not allow us to walk in church fellowship. I recognise that. There are many whose conscience will not allow them to walk with us. I recognise that. But have we ever acknowledged the incalculable debt of gratitude which we owe to the great historic churches?  I think of the Church of Rome, scarlet in her sins, supreme in her saints, and strong in the way that she has stood like a rock in early and medieval history. A score of times she has saved the framework of Christian society in days of assault by the heathen and by heretics. I recall what we owe to our beloved national church in this land, for having kept the faith alive for centuries in the towns and villages of England. I thank God for our brethren in the Salvation Army who have reminded us to consider the poor: and for our friends, the Friends, who have poured out their lives, their wealth and their sympathies in the service of wretched refugees in scores of darkened lands. Should a man not lay his hand upon his mouth before he criticises his brethren? When we pass swift, unloving and ungenerous judgements, surely we have forgotten that if we speak evil of them, at the same time we speak evil of the Lord Whose Name they bear'.'

 

(A New Testament Church in 1955: Report of the High Leigh Conference of Brethren, September 1955, p.91; quoted in F. Roy Coad, 'A History of the Brethren Movement', Exeter (Paternoster), 1968, pp. 224-45.)

 

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IBN Directors' report. September 2010

Irish Baptist Networks

 

Irish Baptist Networks (IBN) was established by a group of Irish Baptists who believe it is important to provide a structured means of encouraging fellowship with Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and its European arm European Baptist Fellowship (EBF).

 

IBN will promote, encourage involvement with and support the work of BWA and EBF amongst Baptists in Ireland; it will promote BWA membership, fellowship with EBF and its member associations. It will respond to people in need and promote theological reflection. Its activities will include arranging conferences, consultations, events and pastoral and other exchange opportunities.

 

IBN encourages involvement in one of three ways:

  1. An individual can be a ‘Friend’ of IBN
  2. An individual can become a personal ‘Member’ of IBN
  3. A church or organization can become a ‘Partner’ of IBN 

The legal structure of Irish Baptist Networks

Irish Baptist Networks (IBN) operates under the auspices of a Charitable Company known as I B Networks Trust Ltd (Company Number XT16937) registered with the Inland Revenue. (Referred to as the Company) 

  1. The Company was set up by a number or Irish Baptists who accepted legal accountability for the Company as Company Directors –currently the Directors are Stephen Adams; Christine Fleming; Paul Fleming; David McMillan; Dorothy McMillan; Norman Sinclair; John Warke and Hadden Wilson
  2. Directors of the Company are members of Baptist World Alliance (a requirement enshrined in the Articles of the Company)
  3. The appointment of Directors is covered by the Articles of the Company;

No person may become a Director unless first approved by the Board of Directors

 

 How IBN is managed

The decision was made to manage IBN initially through a Steering Group comprising Directors and others. It is intended that the Steering Group of IBN and new/future Directors of Irish Baptist Networks Trust Ltd will be appointed from within those persons who have identified their commitment to IBN as Members, Partners or Friends of IBN.  The Steering Group members will be appointed or reappointed at an annual IBN members’ meeting

 

Activities in First Year

Launch of Irish Baptist Networks.

From 26-28 February a delegation from the European Baptist Federation (EBF) visited Northern Ireland at the invitation of Irish Baptist Networks.

 

EBF President Valeriu Ghiletchi, General Secretary Tony Peck, Assistant to the General Secretary Helle Liht, and Bulgarian Baptist Union General Secretary Teddy Oprenov were welcomed by their Irish Baptist brothers and sisters.

The launch event of the Irish Baptist networks took place in Windsor Baptist Church, Belfast.  Worship was led in a contemporary Gaelic style and the address was given by Teddy Oprenov who challenged those present with the question- Who is my neighbour?’  A video greeting was received from the BWA President, David Coffey.

This event represented the culmination of a growing friendship of some Irish Baptists with both EBF and BWA. .

The EBF group was also able to visit the Antrim Coast, and had an informal morning meeting at Portstewart Baptist church.  The delegation was able to tour Belfast.

 

As the EBF President is a member of the Moldovan Parliament it was possible to arrange a short meeting with Jeffrey Donaldson, a Democratic Unionist member of the UK Parliament.  Both he and Valeriu are involved in the Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast movement in their own countries.

 

On Sunday each member of the delegation preached morning and evening in Irish Baptist Churches, mainly in Northern Ireland but also including Grace Baptist Church in the Republic in Dublin.  Here they experienced the life and vitality of the churches and the desire of many they met to have a real ‘connectedness’ with their brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world.

 

Communications

 The Irish Baptist Networks website is www.ibnetworks.org

 

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IBN's first AGM. September 2010

IBN's first AGM.

 

Forty people gathered for a meal in Newtownbreda Baptist minor hall (kindly granted) on Thursday evening 30th September. Following some good food and conversation another ten people joined us for the programme for the evening which was introduced by Hadden Wilson. David McMillan presented a summary of the Directors report (which you can read on this page) and was followed by Maurice Dowling and Trevor Warner who as Irish Baptists gave us their insight to Russian speaking Baptist life in Europe. Stephen Adams outlined some of the plans for the next year – you’ll find information on those plans here on the website – and Dorothy McMillan led a short feedback and discussion session.

 

John Warke chaired a very informal AGM at which accounts, directors, Steering group and auditors were approved. IBN’s first AGM was marked by warm fellowship and renewed encouragement for the Steering group to continue their work in making IBN a viable conduit for the building of relationships across the European and Worldwide Baptist family.

 

Our thanks to Newtownbreda for the use of their excellent facilities and to all who assisted in making the evening a success.

 

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Message from Paul and Christine Fleming 'down under'.

Sept 2010

Paul and I would very much like to be with you at the first Annual Meeting of IBN but as you know that is not physically possible! Our thoughts and prayers are with you however. We trust your time together this evening will be encouraging and uplifting for you and will please the heart of God. From the very first time you mentioned the concept of IBN to us, I have sensed God's pleasure in it. Our amazing God wants His people to be known by their love for each other and to be characterised by unity. IBN seeks to encourage both of these by bringing together Baptists from different cultures and mutually sharing how God is building His Church and motivating it to reach out into a world that needs to experience His love first hand. 

 

A wee bit of Baptist news from this wobbly part of the world! 

The recent earthquake is viewed by some people here as a wake-up call to the Church in Christchurch and in NZ. We live in a city that literally bears our Lord's name. It is amazing that no-one was killed by the earthquake or the many after shocks which have followed. God has been merciful in sparing lives and many recognise that. On Sunday 10th October, Baptist churches across the city are invited to come together to thank God for Life and to pray for those in need. Some people have homes that are uninhabitable; other homes have various degrees of damage; some people are experiencing ongoing difficulties with a clean water supply and sewage; some people have lost their businesses, some their employment; some people have difficulty sleeping; some people are very nervous and anxious.   Many churches have been open during the day, encouraging people to come in for a cuppa and to chat over their experiences. Our church also hopes to invite those who live in the immediate area around our church to a special service where experiences of the earthquake and its aftermath can be shared and where God can be praised and thanked for His love and mercy towards us.  It is hoped that we will have a lunch following the service. Some church buildings in various parts of the city have been damaged. So there are many needs in this city at this time and opportunities for God's people to share His love with neighbours and friends.

 

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Launch of Irish Baptist Networks  

Irish Baptist Networks was launched over the weekend of 26th - 28th Feb. 2010

 

 

From 26-28 February a delegation from the European Baptist Federation (EBF) visited Northern Ireland at the invitation of Irish Baptist Networks (IBN). IBN has been established to encourage Irish Baptist individuals and churches to relate to the wider Baptist family of the EBF and Baptist World Alliance.

 

The launch event took place in Windsor Baptist Church, Belfast (kindly granted).  Worship was led in a contemporary Gaelic style by ‘Slemish’ and the address was given by Teddy Oprenov who challenged those present with the question ‘Who is my neighbour?’  A video greeting was received from the BWA President, David Coffey.

 

The launch event represented the culmination of a growing friendship of some Irish Baptists with both EBF and BWA.  They have been welcomed to events such as the BWA Centenary Congress of 2005 in Birmingham, the EBF ‘Amsterdam 400’ event in 2009, and the annual EBF Council for the past few years.

 

EBF President Valeriu Ghiletchi, General Secretary, Tony Peck, Assistant to the General Secretary Helle Liht, and Bulgarian Baptist Union General Secretary Teddy Oprenov found themselves experiencing the traditional ‘hundred thousand welcomes’ of the Irish Baptist brothers and sisters and wonderful hospitality throughout their stay.

 

The delegation was able to tour Belfast to see both the legacy of the ‘Troubles’ of the 1960s-90s when violent conflict dominated much of its life; but also the regeneration and transformation which has taken place since as part of the ongoing peace process in Northern Ireland. A bomb which exploded outside a courthouse and a sectarian murder both happened the week of the visit serving as reminders that peace is fragile and continues to need our prayers.

 

As the EBF President is a member of the Moldovan Parliament it was possible to arrange a short meeting with Jeffrey Donaldson, Democratic Unionist Party member of the Northern Ireland Assembly and member of the Westminster Parliament.  Both he and Valeriu are involved in the Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast movement in their own countries.

 

The EBF group was also able to visit the beautiful Antrim Coast, with an informal meeting at Portstewart where the large Baptist church is actively engaged in its local community.

 

On Sunday each member of the delegation preached morning and evening in Irish Baptist Churches, mainly in Northern Ireland but also in Dublin.  Here they experienced the life and vitality of the churches and the desire of many they met to have a real ‘connectedness’ with their brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world.

 

While IBN is not officially linked to the Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland (ABCI) it provides a means by which ABCI member churches can engage with BWA and EBF if they so wish.

 

 

 

 

Our European Guests who attended the launch event:

 

 

Valeriu Ghiletchi is the President of the EBF and a former Bishop of the Union of Christian Evangelical Baptist Churches of Moldova. Valeriu is a member of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova,married to Marina and they have two sons and a daughter.

 

 

 

 

Tony Peck is a Baptist Pastor from England and is General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation. During his period as General Secretary the EBF has taken significant new initiatives in church planting, monitoring religious freedom and building an anti- trafficking network. He is also an Associate Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance. His recent writing reflects his major interest in the topic of Baptists and religious freedom. He is married with three grown-up children..

 

Tony Peck comments:

 

‘For nearly all of us, including myself, this was our first visit to Northern Ireland.  I grew up just ‘across the water’ in Scotland and thought of Northern Ireland as a place of violent sectarian conflict with religion, Catholic and Protestant as the main focus.  What we discovered on this visit was something about those who during that period and afterwards exercised their faithful witness to God’s reconciling love in Christ.

 

We were made tremendously welcome, and came away impressed with the personal warmth and the vital witness of the Irish Baptists we met.  We feel that the EBF has much to learn from Irish Baptists and we are excited about the potential of Irish Baptist Networks to provide ever closer ties between us and to build a real ‘partnership in the Gospel’.  Irish Baptists will be very welcome among us at any of our EBF events and activities.’

 

 

 

Helle Liht is a native Estonian brought up in Estonia and is Assistant to the EBF General Secretary. Helle is a member of the Kohila Baptist Church in Estonia where she is a deacon and involved in preaching and teaching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teodor Oprenov (Teddi)  Teddi is pastor of Sofia Baptist Church which has grown from 70 to over 400 members. Teddi is President of the Good Samaritan Foundation set up by Sofia Baptist Church to carry out humanitarian outreach. Teddi has been the General Secretary of the Bulgarian Baptist Union and a member of the council of the European Baptist Federation. Teddi also serves on the Church Leadership Commission of the BWA and other EBF

groups.

 

 

 

Stephen Adams (Hon. Sec of IBN) comments:

The weekend was a significant milestone, was marked by the warmest of fellowship and challenging ministry. The reaction most often heard was ‘it has begun to give us a window on a wider world’. We thank God for these small beginnings and look forward to further development of fellowship and opportunities for sharing in kingdom initiatives with our Baptist sisters and brothers.

 

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