Baptist churches committed to the doctrines of grace have much in common. They share similar interests, concerns and responsibilities. Although each particular church is given everything necessary fully to constitute it a church by its Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, it will rejoice to acknowledge the existence of other churches. It will seek, out of a trust and love founded on a common confession of faith and order, to commit itself to mutual encouragement and care between the churches.
Grace Baptist Assembly is one expression of such fellowship.
The first Assembly was held in May 1980 following the voluntary winding up of two similar assemblies. The Strict Baptist Assembly had provided fellowship for churches since 1964 and the Assembly of baptised churches holding the doctrines of grace since 1976. In both of these there had come the conviction that it was desirable that one Assembly should provide the fellowship sought, particularly as many churches were involved in both assemblies.
The object of Grace Baptist Assembly is to provide a fellowship in which churches of common faith may find mutual encouragement and counsel. It provides opportunities for sharing information and for consultation on a national level on issues of concern to the churches. It provides opportunities of co-operative endeavour especially in missionary and evangelistic work, publication of literature, social concern and theological education.
STATEMENT OF FAITH
The doctrinal standards of the Assembly are the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 and We Believe’, the Strict Baptist Affirmation of Faith (second edition 1973).
Churches participating in the Assembly give prior notice of their agreement with one of the confessions and confirmation that they hold to the principle that all members should be baptised. In this they recognise the other churches making the same statements.
Each church also makes contributions towards the expenses incurred in the Assembly’s arrangements. The Assembly exists only as long as it is sitting and consequently each church affirms its commitment as above for each Assembly that is held.
Churches are represented at the Assembly by messengers they have appointed for this purpose. These are usually pastors, elders or deacons, although other members may be appointed.
Provision is made for churches to make a continuing commitment to the other churches in the Assembly when circumstances make it impossible for them to send any members to attend.
Observers are welcome to the Assemby. As observers they do not have the right of participation. Observers may be appointed by churches which cannot subscribe fully to the basis of the Assembly. They may also be individuals whose churches do not attend the Assembly.
BUSINESS OF ASSEMBLY
The Assembly meets as and when necessary: there is no essential commitment to an annual assembly. Since 2004 the Assembly has been held each year in May as part of a three-day residential conference.
All assembling churches receive written notice of the time, place and purpose of an Assembly or of other convened meetings.
The Assembly encourages all definite efforts to further its purposes primarily through the churches themselves and also through agencies which are answerable to the churches.
The Steering Committee is responsible for planning and organising the Assembly each year. It is responsible to the Assembly for the implementation of its decisions and the answering of any questions raised. The Committee meets two or three times a year as necessary.
The Committee consists of men elected by the Assembly, the maximum being twelve at any time. Three men are elected each year at the annual business meeting. Members serve for a period of four years, and may be considered for re-election. Any member elected to replace someone who has stood down before his term has expired will serve only until the completion of that term.
The committee will elect a chairman who will serve for a period of three years. Churches wishing to nominate anyone for the steering committee should do so in writing to the chairman or secretary at least a fortnight before the Assembly.
Church authority rests in the local church. All co-operation in or contribution to Assembly endeavours bya local church is voluntary and not imposed.
The Assembly may not interfere in the affairs of the local churches. When requested by a church, the Assembly may express opinions and offer advice, but it has no power to enforce its judgement. Each church will determine whether such judgements are in accordance with the Scripture.
RELATIONS WITH OTHER BODIES
The churches in the Assembly humbly recognise that there are many who believe in Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures and who are not able to subscribe to the basis of the Assembly. Every church and minister is free to encourage and participate in expressions of the oneness of all christians in their localities.
The churches in the Assembly also seek fellowship with those outside the United Kingdom.
NEW CHURCHES IN ASSEMBLY
The churches in the Assembly welcome other churches into their fellowship. Details of future Assemblies may be obtained from the secretary at 4 Beechwood Road, Caterham. Surrey CR3 6NA.
(Revised May 2010)