By Bob Allen
Forty-eight-year-old Lynn Green was elected May 4 as general secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. The first woman to hold the post, she replaces Jonathan Edwards, who steps down in July after seven years.
Green currently serves as regional minister for the Southern Counties Baptist Association, a family of about 150 Baptist churches and one of 13 regional associations that together with 2,150 local churches and six colleges make up the BUGB, Britain’s fourth-largest Christian denomination.
She was the unanimous choice of a nominating group. The Baptist Times reported there were no votes against her nomination and only a handful of abstentions, and her election was followed by a standing ovation.
Green said she was “humbled and honored” by the search process and looks forward to stepping in at a time of renewed vision and direction following a recent organizational reshaping. She assumes office in September.
“I believe that our union is ready for generational change,” she said. “It is time to cast off the institutional mindset that has served us well in the past, and embrace a new way of being for the 21st century.”
British Baptists date their history to 1612, when the first Baptist church met in Spitalfields, London. Thomas Helwys, a founder of the Baptist denomination, published A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity, one of the first books to call for religious liberty.
William Carey founded the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792. It is now known as BMS World Mission.
The first Baptist assembly was held in 1813, and formation of the Baptist union was completed in 1832. Violet Hedger became the first woman to qualify as a probationer minister in 1922. Today about 10 percent of British Baptist ministers are female, and the number is expected to rise.
Green, who has served on the Baptist Union council, said she wants British Baptists to be known in a “tribal world” for “our profound and rich unity in diversity.”
“We are committed to the priesthood of all believers, where women and men, young and old, rich and poor, are encouraged and released to serve the Lord, each one differently abled and unique,” she said.