Over the past three years the EBF, in partnership with the Baptist Union of Norway has been planning the first large-scale EBF event since 2009. This was to be a Mission Summit, ‘SENT 2021’ scheduled for 21-25 July this year. Our vision for this event was to celebrate and encourage one another in all that God is doing in mission in the different parts of the EBF Region, and also to be challenged about the future mission of our churches in witnessing to Jesus Christ and his Gospel.
More recently we were delighted when the Baptist World Alliance also joined the event, to combine its Annual Gathering with our mission summit.
Norwegian Baptists have been wonderful partners in this venture, not only making a substantial financial commitment to it, but also putting together a very competent Local Arrangements Committee in the Stavanger region. An international programme Planning Group chaired by David Mayne has also done excellent work and were well on the way to producing a very creative and exciting programme. To all of them we owe a big debt of gratitude.
So it is with great regret that we have now had to take the decision that, because of the continuing presence of the Covid-19 Pandemic and great uncertainty about when international gatherings will again be possible, our SENT 2021 event will not now take place in Stavanger, Norway from 21st-25th July, as planned.
We (leaders of EBF, BU Norway and BWA) were all in agreement, with regret, that this was the only decision we could take at this time. We based it on the best information and projections that we have in Norway and elsewhere.
However, and more positively, there is a strong invitation from Norwegian Baptists not to cancel the event but postpone it until July 2023, when they would hope to welcome us all to Stavanger for ‘SENT 2023’. The EBF and BU Norway would also like to invite the BWA, if possible, to consider planning its Gathering as part of this event as were going to do this year. We will work on all these possibilities in the coming months.
Meanwhile it is important that the EBF gathers together later in this year in our EBF Council. This is a year of transition for the EBF, with a change of General Secretary, President and Vice-President. So we will explore the options of a ‘hybrid’ event somewhere in Central Europe, perhaps with limited physical attendance alongside the possibility to participate online. We will hold this at the end of September or beginning of October, the normal period when our Council gathers. We will send out definite information about it as soon as possible.
We ask for the prayers of our member Unions and Mission Partners for EBF leaders and Executive, that the Lord will clearly guide our steps in the coming months.
Tony Peck EBF General Secretary 20 January 2021