EBF Intends to Strengthen Unity

EBF Intends to Strengthen Unity

Klaus Rösler - October 28, 2009

Prague - During the coming five years, the European Baptist Federation (EBF) will be facing major spiritual and structural challenges.

EBF-General-Secretary Tony Peck (Prague) stated in his report to the EBF’s Executive, which met in Prague on 16 and 17 October, that a primary calling is to retain the unity of its 55 member unions and organisations. According to Peck’s assessment, nationalism and xenophobia are increasing in some regions of Europe. Yet on the other hand, a growing number of ethnic congregations are willing to join national Baptist Unions. In this context, we Baptists are particularly called upon to uphold our common faith in the Risen Christ as the hallmark of our unity. Baptists have a centre in Prague Peck, who has been re-elected by the EBF’s Council for a second, five-year term, noted that the Amsterdam 400" anniversary congress marked a high point of his time in the office. This past summer, Baptists celebrated the 400th birthday of their church with a faith congress in Amsterdam, where the first Baptist congregation in history had been founded in 1609. Peck added that he had been able to visit 43 of the EBF’s 55 unions in the course of his first five years. During his first term, the creation of semi-permanent EBF offices on the campus of International Baptist Theological Seminary

(IBTS) had also been introduced. This has helped make the campus a true centre of Baptist life in Europe. In the past, EBF offices had been maintained in the home country of the ruling General-Secretary. A further challenge remains the future of IBTS, which has run into financial difficulties.

Nevertheless, due to new on-campus lessees and positive developments regarding a Swiss fund helping to finance the work of the Prague seminary, the financial situation is now more relaxed. More time is now available for thought on fundamental change. It was stated during the meetings that rushed decisions are no longer required. Amsterdam 400: Smaller deficit than anticipated Jan Saethre (Siljan/Norway), Chairperson of the EBF’s Finance Committee, reported that the Amsterdam 400 congress closed with a deficit of 90.000 euros. This is 35.000 euros less than anticipated. He thanked in particular the Dutch Union for its strong support of the congress. Yet a programme for financing the congress, which the EBF’s Council had originally passed by a large margin, had found only a minor response.

At the meeting in Budapest in October 2007, it had been proposed that each union donate one euro per member towards the costs of the congress. Yet, according to Saethre, only a few unions took the proposal seriously.

Positive news was also heard from the Gaza Strip. In the aftermath of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip in January 2009 and the collapse of Baptist church life in Gaza City, the congregation is again gathering regularly for church services. A new pastor is being sought since the past pastor has ruled out a return to Gaza for himself and his family. EBF intends to offer development aid to Africa. The "All-Africa Baptist Fellowship", the joint body of Baptist churches on the continent, has requested support from the EBF.

It has already been agreed to aid the AABF in creating an administrative structure and central offices. Both parties desire to remain in dialogue on how they can best intensify their cooperation. A partnership between equal parties is envisioned. Africa has more than 30.000 Baptist congregations with more than

7,5 million members. Fifty-five Baptist unions with roughly 12.000 congregations and 800.000 members make up the EBF.