“I want to share a secret with you….God is still at work!” That was how the Revd. Simeon Baker, Baptist Union of Wales mission director, opened his short address at the Association’s Autumn Council Meeting held in October.

Speaking on the general theme of Protecting the Christian Future, Simeon said Christians still could feel confident about the coming years even if our society, in general, seemed to be drifting even further away from God.

“As I travel around Wales, I can see definite signs that God is at work – in His Church, among His people and also outside the Church because He loves His world. So let’s be encouraged and help and support one another as we continue to strive to show the love of Jesus in spiritual and practical ways”, he told the meeting held at Zion Baptist Church, Cwmcarn.

Simeon went on to outline the various BUW ministry and mission grants for which local churches could apply for “outreach-based” initiatives but he said the most important need was for prayer. That was why 2020 was being targeted by the Union as a year when special emphasis would be given to mission-focused prayer supported by a range of initiatives and materials for use by local churches.

“The social and moral landscape in which we are living and working is changing and we must ask ourselves ‘What does it really mean to engage in mission?”

The Revd. Judith Morris, general secretary of the Baptist Union of Wales, said earlier there were two main ways we could protect the Christian future – through mission work and also in practical ways such as helping local fellowships to sort out problems they were having with old buildings. “I also want to thank you for all the hard work being undertaken for the Lord by the Association and the churches in Gwent which is so encouraging”, she added.

Mrs Helen Wyn, Welsh Baptist Union Corporation co-ordinator, said it was important to understand the difference between the terms “church” and “chapel”. Church referred to the people who, if necessary, could continue worshipping and serving the Lord without a building; chapel more often than not referred to the building.

“The corporation wants to be proactive rather than reactive in providing practical help, advice and support for fellowships and good, early communications about issues with chapel buildings and similar matters is essential”, she said.

Helen then outlined various options churches could consider if they were having problems with their buildings but she emphasised that careful attention needed to be paid to the contents of deeds and to regulations stipulated by the Charity Commission.

The presentations were followed by a lively interactive session where various strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the churches in today’s increasingly secular climate were discussed.

About 70 people representing a dozen churches attended the Autumn Council meeting which also incorporated elements of an annual general meeting. Among others taking part were Association president the Revd. Dr Suzanne Roberts, who led the opening devotions; Association chairman the Revd. Marc Owen and the Revds Jonathan Forman and Huw Stephens.

The accompanist was Mrs Macil Tayler (Zion, Cwmcarn).
A special offering at the meeting raised £250 for BMS World Mission.