Baptist Union AGM at the Baptist Assembly
The AGM of the Baptist Union of Great Britain took place on Saturday morning (15 May). The hour long session was hosted by General Secretary Lynn Green and Alastair Mitchell-Baker, chair of Baptist Union trustees.
It also featured the induction of new Baptist Union President Geoff Colmer alongside the honouring of outgoing President Yinka Oyekan.
Click here for a longer report on the Presidential handover.
'Maturity of Baptists Together'
In a short reflection, Lynn said she had witnessed the maturity of Baptists Together as a movement over the past year.
There had been spiritual maturity - a desire and commitment to pray together.
‘Nationally, with the 60 prayer broadcasts, regionally and locally prayer has been a priority and a blessing for us,’ Lynn said. ‘I am praying the Lord will continue to deepen our commitment to seeking Him in prayer.’
There had been maturity in relationships. The relationships churches had developed in their communities had ‘readily provided open doors and clear channels for God’s love and blessing to flow as we have served our communities as best we can.’
Furthermore, across Baptists Together we have encouraged, supported and inspired each other along the way, Lynn said. She highlighted the advice and guidance provided by the Specialist Teams. The session would see a request from those watching to publicly express a vote of thanks for the Specialist Teams.
Lynn also said there had been maturity in mission. ‘Flexibility, creativity and innovation has been evident again and again and we have been able to be the responsive, missional movement that is so much part of who we are….
‘We have been willing to be blown along by God’s Holy Spirit, even in the midst of the storm, and that has been amazing to see. Baptist Together have truly been Beacons of Prayer and Hope wherever God has placed them!’
Three resolutions were proposed during the AGM, with voting taking place using the Slido platform.
Delegates were asked to affirm the appointment of John Levick as Treasurer of BUGB for the year to Assembly 2022, and the appointment of Alastair Mitchell-Baker as Moderator of the BUGB Trustee Board until the end of his three-year term on 31 August 2021.
The third resolution related to the change of legal structure of BUGB to a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO). The transfer of the assets, activities and liabilities of the unincorporated Baptist Union charity was completed on 1 January 2020.
The unincorporated charity continues to exist as a dormant ‘shell’ in order to still be able to benefit from legacies to the Union, its rights as a residual beneficiary of trust property and its governance role in property trusts. At present, BUGB Trustees are trustees for both the new CIO and the ‘shell’ unincorporated charity.
It was proposed that a new constitution for the ‘shell’ unincorporated charity be adopted, to simplify the governance going forward.
'We basically want to replace the older more complex constitution with a simpler one,' explained Alastair.
All three resolutions were passed.
Following his vote of affirmation, treasurer John Levick presented a finance report. He highlighted the challenging impact 2020 had on the Home Mission Appeal. There was a big dip in April 2020 during the first lockdown. Giving returned to more normal levels but then saw a decline in the final quarter, reflecting the financial pressures of the year. Nevertheless, John thanked ‘so many of you who gave systematically and regularly during the year.’
Other income streams were hit throughout 2020, including legacies. These were very low, possibly reflecting the slowness in the legal process of selling properties and delays in getting probate, John explained. However, a legacy in January 2021 means we have already exceeded budget for legacies in 2021.
John said that reserves allowed us to set aside £1m for help to churches hit by the Coronavirus pandemic during 2020. We have been able to help 31 churches which would otherwise have run out of cash, and have provided grants to all churches which applied and met the criteria. The main features of these churches are a heavy reliance on letting of their premises for income, and congregations ‘which are not tech savy and rely heavily on cash offerings on at services’.
Looking ahead, John mentioned that we not seeing millennials and younger generations being called in ministry as we would want, with a major factor being funding through training.
There are two areas where we want to provide funding: internships, which are happening in some parts of the country, but we want to expand. Secondly we have a group looking at funding for ministry.
These two areas will be wrapped up in a wider review of the allocation of our financial resources including the amounts allocated to Associations both for their running costs and grants to churches. ‘This in itself will not increase our income, which is a major issue, but will look to address some of the challenges within the existing model,’ said John.
Returning to the subject of Home Mission, John said we continue to see a small but steady decline in giving year on year which puts pressure on our finances. In 2020 giving in some Association areas declined but the average giving per member increased reflecting the fact that the pressures are not just financial.
‘I make no apologies for repeating my message from previous years that the slow decline in income will mean we will have 20 per cent fewer financial resources in 10 years time if average inflation is at the government target of 2 per cent per annum.’
‘But I don’t want to finish on a negative note,’ John continued, ‘I want to thank you that despite the shortfall in 2020 we have been able to finance all we had planned.’
The AGM can be watched in full on the video below.