So, on Saturday we (that is me and one of our deacons) hitched a lift with a neighbouring pastor and wended our way to Birmingham for the FIEC Extraordinary Assembly. On the table were a series of resolutions that if passed would lead to the wholesale restructuring of the FIEC. Among the proposals was that we have a full-time Director in the shape of John Stevens, rather than a revolving three year Presidency. The existing Gen Sec, Richard Underwood to become 'Church and Pastors' Support Director'. The appointment of an Admin Director. Extra Funding for evangelism and training. A Trustee body of 11 good men and true who will exercise financial and spiritual oversight over the FIEC in place of the old 35 man Council. Voting rights weighted according to size of church. A beefed-up Leaders' Conference that will represent the churches and hold the Directorate and Trustees to account at an annual Assembly.
The whole thing took ages, starting about 1.30pm and concluding at 5.00pm. Current President, Rupert Bentley-Taylor gave the opening devotions on Psalm 121. Richard Underwood talked us through the proposals. Then we came to discussion of the resolutions prior to voting. Lots of talk. I didn't get a chance to seek reassurance that the appointment of additional directors for evangelism and training would have to be specially approved by a Leaders' Assembly. Next, various amendments to the resolutions were proposed, but all were overwhelmingly voted down. In response to the amendments clarification was given that the Trustee's "spiritual oversight" did not amount to an extra tier of church government, but simply involves oversight of the affairs of the FIEC itself. The role of the Leaders' Conference as an expression of co-operative Independency was further explained. In the end all the resolutions were accepted by a large majority of delegates. John Stevens was welcomed as the new Director and said a few words. He seems like a good and gifted man, but we'll have to be careful not to rely on him, but on the Lord to revive and renew the churches in FIEC. And so we headed back to Wiltshire.
On the way home we stopped at one of the M5 Services for coffee. Bowing to peer pressure I had a cup of McDonald's "cappuccino" with my fellow travellers when a Costa coffee shop was just across the way. It was weak, way too milky - even for cappuccino, and had no bite. Resolved never to drink such stuff again. No amendments. No clarification. Got home about 8.00pm feeling rather weary and having missed the rugby entirely. Wales lost badly to Australia 12-33. Doesn't seem much point in watching the recording. Preached yesterday to Bulford Independent Church. It was good to renew fellowship with old friends and to meet new members of the congregation. Still feeling tired, I'm hoping to take it easy today with a bit of reading and prep for a school assembly tomorrow morning.