It’s some 23 years since I could last be classified as a “Yorkshire Baptist Minister” (that is to say resident in the historic white rose county and having some ministerial input into a member church). So, it was good to return as a somewhat lowly “Team Enabler” on Monday having last been there as the General Secretary. About 35 of us were gathered together, with almost as many apologies (guess they had heard I was to be the morning speaker), but a good event.
I had offered various titles to speak on and was surprised to find the chosen title was “Is there a future for ordained Baptist ministry in Yorkshire tomorrow?”
So, I reflected on my own calling to the “Ministry of Word and Sacrament” some thirty plus years ago, funded, partly, by the Lady Hewley Trust (a Dissenter who lived in York in the 1600’s) and who had a clear (Presbyterian) view of what a Dissenting minister should do.
I owe a lot to Lady Hewley, but in my lecture sought to challenge the accepted Protestant vision of the Ministry of Word and Sacrament, to point my colleagues towards the Radical Reformation, the ideas of John Howard Yoder and Jim McClendon and help them to appropriate that radical reformation zeal towards establishing gathering, convictional, intentional, porous, meal-eating communities in the urban wilderness that is now West Yorkshire.
They seemed to like the idea of enabling the fullness of Christ to flourish amongst the whole people of God and I came away feeling satisfied that some had “food for thought” in the business of making our contemporary baptistic churches live with relevance and with hope.