Over 2,000 Baptists have been gathering, debating and celebrating at the Baptist Annual Assembly in Bournemouth, which began on Friday 1 May 2009 and ends today. The meeting marks 400 years since the first Baptist church was formed in Amsterdam.
The Rev Kingsley Appiagyei, from Ghana, was inducted into his new role as Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB) annual president at the gathering. In a stirring speech he called for a renewal of Christian engagement and witness in society.
The Baptist Assembly is the joint yearly gathering of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and BMS World Mission - a Baptist missionary organisation which has transitioned into a larger inter-denominational evangelical agency with a Baptistic foundation and ethos.
Other speakers at the event have included social campaigner Baroness Caroline Cox, bestselling Christian author Adrian Plass, and the General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, Neville Callam.
Andy Duncan, who is a member of a Baptist church in Croydon, greater London, and also CEO of national Channel 4 television, spoke on 'God and the media - an unholy alliance'.
The Rev David Kerrigan, General Director of BMS World Mission, said in the run-up to the Assembly that this was an important time for Baptists to question and explore their identity in a positive way.
He declared: “It is not every year we celebrate 400 years of Baptist witness – this will be a special year and a special Assembly. The theme of Baptist identity is not only about looking back. It is important to explore this as we look to our future as Baptists, both here in the UK and around the world.”
New BUGB president Kingsley Appiagyei also cited Baptist pioneer and 'founding father William Carey: “This is a time to expect great things from God, and also to attempt great things for God.”