I have spent the day in Solihull at the Renewal Centre joining in the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Grace Baptist Mission. GBM usually has its meetings on a Tuesday in London but it was felt that a different approach would be appropriate this time and that was probably right. The missionaries and council have spent most of the week at Clovelly Hall hearing Don Carson, an old friend of GBM. DC was also the main speaker today.
The day was in four sections, two before lunch and two after. In the morning we kicked off with a 200 strong delegates meeting. Like much of the rest of the day it was done at a breathless pace and was much more of a rubber stamping process than usual. We then had a thanksgiving service in the main hall with 1400 present (plus 120 in the overflow). This featured interviews with recently retired missionary to Spain Pat Davies, David and Mavi Rivero now in Madrid and Sam Devenesam who gave a plaque thanking GBM on behalf of Christians in South India. Don Carson then preached from Matthew 25 (the talents) on how to wait for Jesus. That overran by about 20 minutes.
After finding a field to eat some lunch I headed back. Lovely to see lots of familiar faces and lots of unfamiliar ones too. Some are former missionaries. It would be nice to know what they do these days. The first part of the afternoon was a multi-media presentation with projected slides, video, music and choir items giving the history of GBM. A few hitches but not bad, if slightly airbrushed, which is understandable.
The final part of the day was given over chiefly to a service for BBC Radio 4 tomorrow. By using various missionaries to pray and read and a choir from Chertsey Street with Don Carson giving a twenty minute apologia for mission they managed to meet the BBC's craving for variety without losing much really. Trevor Condy is an amazing chairman. I couldn't have done that in a million years. We then had a proper message from Don (at a more human pace) on one of his favourites - Matthew 11 (Portraits - a depressed Baptist, a defended Baptist, an eclipsed Baptist).
After a few retakes for Simon from the BBC we were free to go. So a great day I guess. The one jarring note - no new missionaries. Hopefully we haven't taken our eye off the ball.
Do listen in on BBC Radio 4 tomorrow at 8.10 am or on iplayer in the coming week.