Over past few weeks I have felt a surge of pride in being a Baptist, what with the JPIT paper on poverty (http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Truth-And-Lies-Report-smaller.pdf ) and the St. Georges Day declaration of unity (http://www.baptisttimes.co.uk/index.php/news-national-news/885-reclaiming-st-george-as-a-national-symbol-of-inclusivity-rather-than-a-symbol-of-hatred ).
I felt proud to be part of a movement that was prepared to speak out prophetically to our culture to call us to see things in new ways. I felt that we might be reclaiming some of our radical heritage, being prepared to build church and community in a different way that allowed all voices to be heard and freed people to be who they are in Christ without recourse to stereotypes and out dated oppressions.
So when I read an article in the Baptist Times with a picture of a speaker standing in front of a poster that says the group want to be a “catalyst for change in a hurting world” and whose keynote speaker apparently says: “We tend to put God and people in to packages” I think it can only be a good thing, yes?
Apparently not. The Baptist Men’s Movement, whose conference this article is reporting, then goes on to suggest that the reason men don’t come to church any more is because the church is “too feminine” and go on to suggest a range of stereotypically “manly” activities to attract more men in.
I’ve blogged on this “Feminisation of the church” this before (see here: http://sarahfegredo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/feminisation-of-church.html ) and I can’t help but feel that if the report in the BT reflects the mentality of the BMM then it’s a pretty sad state of affairs. The report finishes with what I assume are the closing remarks, or summing up of the conference are as follows:
“We need to lay down the old ways, to start to dream a bigger dream and to challenge the impossible. Don't be afraid to ask for a bigger vision.”
Exactly BMM…we need to lay down the old sexist stereotypes that demean men and women, challenge the packing of people into little boxes, and dream a bigger dream…how about this for your bigger vision:
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free,nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”
You know where it’s from and it’s the vision I’m asking for.