"Discerning God's Future Together" was the theme of the European Baptist Federation’s (EBF) annual Council for 2021, held from the 22nd to the 25th of September. Welcomed by the Dutch Baptists (Unie-ABC), Baptist leaders and representatives from Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia gathered in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The Council has been an uplifting moment as it has been over a year since the EBF family gathered in person due to the Covid-19. Despite the travel restrictions due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, 70 international participants and 21 local participants from Dutch Baptist were joined onsite in Amsterdam, and 59 participated online.
Stefan Gisiger, the newly elected EBF President, said, "For the first time in its history, the European Baptist Federation held its annual Council hybrid. As not all delegates were able to attend locally due to travel restrictions, the option of online participation was offered and voting and elections were conducted electronically. Many local delegates expressed their joy at being able to meet face to face again after last year's entire EBF Council had to be held online."
While the EBF member bodies presented their reports, questions on the current circumstances and new visions for the future were addressed.
"The report on the current disastrous situation in Lebanon was shocking, but accompanied by signs of hope, was also received with great sympathy," Gisiger said. "As Wissam Nasrallah (LSESD, Lebanon) emphasised in his presentation, being the light of the world also means shining in a tunnel as a light of hope through God's grace, even if there is no prospect of light at the end of the tunnel."
The leadership transition certainly was one of the highlights of this year's Council. As Tony Peck, EBF General Secretary, retires after 17-years of devoted service to God and the EBF family, the EBF General Secretary Search Group nominated Alan Donaldson (Scotland) as his successor. Followed by the nomination, Alan Donaldson was unanimously elected as a new General Secretary during the Council.
Additionally, Stefan Gisiger (Switzerland) was elected as President, and Mateusz Wichary (Poland), as Vice-President at the beginning of the new season.
Gisiger succeeds Meego Remmel, who has led the EBF as the President in this challenging age of Covid-19 where everyone has witnessed restrictions and grief. Through his wisdom and leadership with humility, the EBF has empowered and strengthened for such a time as this.
Resolution on COP26
The EBF Council adopted a Resolution on COP26 to encourage its member unions and partners to emphasise the importance of Christian communities being concerned about the care of God's creation. COP26 is a global summit to discuss action towards climate change, taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, this year.
The EBF Assistant General Secretary Helle Liht addressed the importance of the resolution and said that "caring for creation is in today's world a powerful witness to God's love and care for all that he has made. All life on earth depends on God and the responsibility of God's people is to embody and advocate for life-giving relationships within the entire created order. The adopted resolution draws attention to this and calls for urgent action."
EBF believe that as bearers of God's image, believers have the responsibility to take care of God's creation. EBF wants to invite and challenge member unions and churches to take place in this matter together.
See the resolution: www.ebf.org/post/2021-council-resolutions
Farewell of Tony Peck
EBF members were blessed to have Tony Peck as the General Secretary for the last 17 years. He has shown us God's love to all through his servant leadership.
Under his leadership, the EBF launched Transform, a programme to invest in young Baptist leaders.
Victoria Aleksandravicene associate pastor, Multination Church in Frankfurt, Germany, and a participant of the Transform Programme said, "Tony and Alison, on behalf of the Transform team we would like to thank you for your friendship and wisdom, for your willingness to invest in us and support us. Through the Transform Programme we learnt about the importance of transformative events and we hope — for Tony and Alison, and for Ruth and Alan — that you would meet this one with joy and that it may bring blessings and true transformation."
Photos: Tim SolWoong Kim (EBF)
Tim SolWoong Kim, EBF Communications Director