New U.K. Baptist Head Encourages Followers to Expect Revival

LONDON – The new President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain has challenged Baptists to prepare for the revival of the Church in the United Kingdom.

The Rev. Kingsley Appiagyei was inducted in his new role before some 2,000 Baptists at the BUGB's annual assembly in Bournemouth last Friday.

The assembly ties in with celebrations taking place this year to mark 400 years since the formation of the first ever Baptist church in Amsterdam.

Kingsley, from Ghana, is the founder of the two largest churches in the BUGB. He will serve as president over the next 12 months.

Reflecting on the place of the church in today's society, Kingsley said in his presidential address: "Unfortunately today, in our own nation, the Church has almost been taken captive."

"Anything today that is distinctly Christian is now regarded as offensive to non-Christians and therefore must be removed," he said. "Coupled with the economic [crisis] and surging crime rate, we are willing to turn to anything but God to solve our problems."

Kingsley offered a message of hope, however, telling the U.K.'s Baptists to become "an expectant community."

"God is a faithful God," he said. "This is the dawning of a new era, and as we put our hands together and believe God, God will visit his people afresh. God will forgive his people and heal our land. There will be a revival and a fresh awakening."

Quoting from William Carey, one of the founding fathers of the Baptist tradition in Britain, he said, "This is a time to expect great things from God, and also to attempt great things for God."

"Remember," he added, "the God of our past is still the God of our present and forever he will be the same God for our future."

On Saturday, the General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, the Rev. Neville Callam, challenged Baptists to respond to God's call to mission.

"God the Father yearns for us to participate, God the Son both invites and compels us to participate, and God the Holy Spirit empowers us to participate," he said.

He reminded Baptists that God was a Father of mission "who is always reaching out for the sake of all creation to make Himself known, to make His will known, to set us free and lead us to life abundant."

Callam further told Baptists that they could only fulfill their missionary calling, however, "if they do God's mission God's way," by following Jesus in His humility, obedience, selflessness, self-emptying and utter reliance on the Holy Spirit.

"If we have failed in Christian discipleship and mission it is perhaps because we have not accorded to the Holy Spirit the pride of place in the processes whereby we discern the Church's mission and our part in it," he said.

"There are so many needs and so many opportunities and God is calling us to answer the question tonight: who shall I send? How is your church responding to the needs that cry out for a Christian response? And how are you responding to God's call to be a missionary in your time?" he asked delegates.

Callam concluded his sermon by appealing to Baptists to be obedient to the calling of God upon their lives and make themselves fully available for mission.

"Affirm the call God has placed on your life and sincerely respond: God I will do what you want me to do … I will be what you want me to be."

The Baptist Assembly is the joint gathering of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and BMS World Mission and ends on Bank Holiday Monday.

It takes place ahead of a major gathering of European Baptists in Amsterdam in July which will mark the 400th anniversary of the worldwide Baptist movement's founding.