I arrived back from this year's Assembly on Monday afternoon this week, only to instantly feel generally out of sorts (temperature, aching, fluey type things) and so go to bed for most of Tuesday and some of yesterday. I am finally out of the woods, though and in the meantime others have been blogging on the Assembly at Brighton this year. See the comments of Catriona (here and here, Andy here and here and Simon here). I don't have much to add, save to say that I was generally happy with my sessions (the 2nd Bible study felt flatter than the 1st go, but people still seemed to appreciate it) and I have been grateful for the kind feedback. Clearly, the presentation of the constitutional changes at the AGM on Sunday were the highlight!
I often moan about Assembly. I still think that there are deep problems the overall format and focus and especially with the evening sessions. But there are always two moments in the programme where I find myself unfolding my arms, and removing my quizzical, slightly sceptical look. One is at the moment of recognition of ministers (despite the unseemly whooping and cheering). The other is the In Memoriam for ministers and missionaries who have died in the past year (despite the ever so slightly overwrought ending). At these moments, I always find myself thinking: these are the people I belong to, this is the church community that has shaped me, educated me, that accepts my ministry and that prays for me. One day my name will be on that screen. So in the end, I would rather be here, with these strange but wonderful Baptist people, than anywhere else in the family of God in these islands.