Saturday 31st October (Day 3) – Phil Magee
Assembly was time to reflect and look forward. As a family of Scottish Baptists, we sensed God’s spirit despite it being a time of transition for the Union with the search taking place for a new General Director to replace Bill Slack who had moved to be the pastor of Culduthel Christian Centre, Inverness. There was a real sense of God’s Spirit as we worshipped together – The worship was sensitively led by Andy Scarcliffe (Mission Adviser) and others. It even included a Carol ‘Silent Night’ which talks about the Shepherds who first saw the light which tied in nicely with the theme “punching holes in the darkness”. We were also encouraged through prayer responses to respond to his word.
Saturday begun with a Bible Study session was led by David Kerrigan, the recently appointed General Director of the BMS World Mission. It was based on 1 Thessalonians 1 & Acts 17 which speaks about a King who is greater than Caesar! One thing that stood out for me was mention about the idea of election based on 1 Thessalonians 1:4 and the clear definition that David gave. Election encouraged Holiness and not apathy. It provides assurance not presumption. It encourages humility not pride; it should encourage you to witness not self satisfaction. This was exactly the vision that William Carey of BMS World Mission had as he fought against the Hyper Calvinism of the day.
Saturday included a spotlight on children and youth work. It was an opportunity to reflect on the right attitudes we have towards children, it included a talk from Andy Bathgate who is the chief executive of Scripture (Union Scotland). The key points being that God wants children to taught his truth in every context. He wants to hear his children’s praise (Psalm 8:2) He wants the children to know acceptance. One thing to consider is that we often dedicate Sunday school teachers but not Children/Teachers/Technical staff who goes to School five days a week. In Section Gary Smith gave his final report as youth adviser before he takes up the post of Pastor, Crown Terrace Baptist Church, Aberdeen. The assembly acknowledged the work of the youth adviser and how he sown many seeds into the lives of young people particularly through the step out programme. Step Out programme has shown the way that Scottish Baptist family are united together.
This was followed by BMS session which included interviews from Missionaries in China, Tunisia and Italy. One of our Lay preachers Cindy Mackenzie (Wishaw) had recently invited to involved in a mission trip to China and had reflected on the fact that through this visit a way opened up for BMS to send out people there long term. Folk were asked to pray about this. It has been a year of transition for BMS too – they appointed their new director in December 2008 and it has given them an opportunity to draw from deeper wells. Throughout the year they have committed themselves to prayer and reflection and theological reflection. They are committed to witnessing to world faiths and responding with creative insight.
Saturday afternoon session begin with interviews from folks who work in their community. These interviews were to dispel the idea that evangelism is a program that the local church puts on. God does use each one of us in our workplaces and community. Andy Scarcliffe interviewed a Christian MP; a person who had been involved in street pastors in Glasgow and an outreach worker who had been working with drug addicts. All three testified to who God could use them where they were at.
David Coffey brought the concluding address based on Luke 4. He spoke of Jesus who faced the world. David said that there were challenges ahead, e.g. Independence; appointment of a new General Director. He said that Jesus shared God’s heart God favourite number is number one – you matter to God. He said that we were to display Godly challenge – we can punch holes in the darkness. We are to transform the world. The assembly closed with a time of reflection and communion.
The next assembly will take place on 28th-30th October 2010. Venue to be confirmed but the theme will probably be on “Our identity”.