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Abound – A New EBF Network for Senior Leaders

We all value the presidents or general secretaries in our different Baptist unions and conventions. They provide wise leadership and carry great responsibility. They also fulfil a unique, and sometimes lonely, role. So a new EBF initiative called Abound has begun which gathers together the senior leaders of our unions to support their learning and development.

The first gathering of the Abound Network was in Warsaw, Poland on 29-31 January. Around 30 leaders travelled to be there, from Tajikistan in the east, the UK in the west, and from most nations in between. One participant said,

‘It was so good to meet other people who have a role like mine and who understand the pressures I face.'

As well as building and deepening relationships with one another, the leaders benefited from teaching by Meego Remmel and Einike Pilli on ‘The Character and Ethics of a Baptist Leader’ and ‘Developing Younger Leaders’, and from devotions led by Mateusz Wichary. Martin Hodson and Alan Donaldson led sessions exploring the challenges and potential of senior leaders and also how senior leaders can give and receive from their peers.

The Abound network was initiated by the EBF Theological Education Commission, which saw the opportunity for EBF to create a space to support the continuing ministry development of presidents and general secretaries. The name Abound was inspired by the prayer of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1: 9 -11

that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ— to the glory and praise of God.

Here the word ‘abound’ translates the Greek word perisseuo which contains the ideas of having received abundantly and also overflowing generously to others. Our hope is that the Abound network will be just such a place, where leaders discern the abundance the Lord has given us and let that overflow for the blessing of one another.

The network is more than a conference and its impact has been continuing. Every couple of months the members meet online in small groups, to check in with one another and continue the important practice of mutual encouragement and accountability. There will be a segment of the EBF Council in September in Budapest for the Abound network to meet face-to-face and continue its learning journey. There are one or two senior leaders in unions who have not yet become part of Abound and this gathering in Hungary will be the ideal opportunity to join in.

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