Archive for November, 2016

Against the Odds

November 11, 2016 Leave a comment

against-the-oddsI have finally completed the long incubation and given birth to a book on Murray Robertson and Spreydon Baptist, [Against the Odds: Murray Robertson and Spreydon Baptist Church] a church and ministry that have been so foundational for much of what I have done in my own life in ministry and theological teaching, I began in 2009 but a variety of factors meant a much longer journey than anticipated, but it is a much richer and better book for the time (like a good sermon). It was wonderful being able to get it completed to be launched at the 150th Anniversary of Spreydon, now South West, Baptist Church which was a img_0463wonderful weekend in itself, meeting up with many old friends including a number from University days when I first came to Spreydon at the end of 1969. A privilege to take part in some of the events and share in an inspiring worship service on the Sunday celebrating the church’s past and anticipating its ongoing journey into the future.

Following this I spent a part of two days at the Baptist Hui (Assembly) in Dunedin, speaking briefly at the Baptist Research Association dinner and Sutherland lecture and again meeting up with a number of significant people from my past – including some in ministry who had been young people in the two Baptist Churches I had pastored and Murray Cottle and Lindsay Jones who were in my year group which began at Baptist Theological College in 1976 and are still going strong. It was also stimulating meeting some new young ministers and students, some of whom knew me through my writing which they were using in their research. As one of my friends said to me “it shows the power of the pen still” to continue to have influence on those beyond who you meet. Motivation to get my head into the next book on my agenda.

A highlight was a serendipitous meeting and good conversation with Craig Vernall the Baptist leader for the past few years. Along with a good number of others he bought a copy of the book (the baptists2main reason I was there) and after reading the book on his flights back home sent me the following. “I read your book on the flight back to Tauranga. It was a very inspiring read and captured the heart and story of the Spreydon/Robertson journey so very well. Thanks for writing this book. It records a significant Baptist story. Something we’re not that good at as we often struggle to celebrate what God is doing in our midst.”

Actually I felt that finally completing this book and the time back at Spreydon/South West and the Baptist Hui completed a circle of reconnecting up with Baptist family and heritage which is still a very big part of who I am and for which I am very grateful. While I was doing my doctoral research I was endeavouring to help the church in New Zealand, and Baptist church in particular, understand the difficult context we were in, and surprisingly discovered that if we just continued doing what we were, then the future would be even more challenging. That was not especially well received by many Baptists and is part of how I ended up at Knox and in the Presbyterian Church and felt rather alienated from my Baptist family. Fortunately when my earlier two books came out at the end of 2013 it began a chain of events with being invited to present seminars in various Baptist contexts, including at Carey Baptist College (where I had studied and later been on the board), preaching at the centennial of my home church in Timaru (written on in an earlier post) and now these events. I am experiencing it as a wonderful gift of God’s grace as I enter the final phase of my career.

You can find details of the book and how to purchase it in my publications page.



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