By Bob Allen
The Baptist Union of Great Britain will downsize its national staff from 46 to 32 employees and change the way it works with associations and Baptist colleges to better serve local churches in the 21st century.
Changes approved by the Baptist Union Council Nov. 12-14 at the Hayes Christian Conference Centre in Derbyshire followed a yearlong study prompted by financial concerns but broadened to re-examine mission structures designed for the 20th century.
The driving vision for the shift, which also includes reducing the size of the governing council, is to create a more flexible structure that moves decisions closer to the local church.
“This is a very painful time, but it is clearly right for the Baptist Union to make serious financial cuts,” Baptist Union General Secretary Jonathan Edwards told the Baptist Times. “My colleagues and I at Baptist House have all done our work out of a profound sense of God’s call, and we appreciate the sensitivity and support of the denomination as we seek to discover his will for our future.”
Edwards said in his visits around the country he sees energy, initiative and deep commitment in British Baptist churches, colleges and associations. “Amidst the challenges there is a great deal to encourage us, and I look forward to seeing the way in which God leads the Baptist family in the coming years,” he said.
The Baptist Times ceased publication after 156 years as a print newspaper in 2011, because the Baptist union could no longer afford a subsidy the paper needed to stay afloat. An online version debuted in April.
In March, the Baptist council received report of a deficit of more than $1 million in the BUGB Home Mission Fund, attributed to declines in giving by churches.