In January I got to return to the country of my birth — England — to meet with a number of Baptist agencies and conventions who are active internationally in the fields of development and disaster response. We met for three days in Didcot, home of BMS World Mission (which started when William Carey felt a call from God to share God’s love with those in need, specifically in India).
The goal was this: discuss how we might resource and strengthen one another, and work together in a collaborative framework globally. There is already often ad hoc and informal cooperation on a case-by-case basis, but we wanted to think about whether we could make this more intentional and sustainable. There were people from Baptist World Aid Australia, Canadian Baptist Ministries, European Baptist Mission, BMS World Mission, European Baptist Aid, German Baptist Aid, Baptist World Aid, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Virginia Baptists, Texas Baptists, and Hungarian Baptist Aid. The inspiration for this gathering emerged from a Global Consultation on Development held in Izmir, Turkey, that was sponsored by Baptist World Aid in July 2014.
We spent significant time getting to know one another, mapping where work was being done, articulating values and missiology, and describing areas of strength and areas where growth was desired. What I loved was that there was real desire to “do this” differently — and better — to learn from one another so that collectively our practices could be strengthened. Initials steps were taken to form networks of competency for peer-learning, specifically in terms of: Advocacy and Justice; Disaster Management; Social Enterprise and Business as Mission; Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning; Partner Relations, and Constituency Education.
Beyond sharing information, there was also a desire to establish a set of protocols and best practices that are shared in common. Discussion also took place about developing initiatives collaboratively, particularly in contexts that pose significant challenges and risks. A Working Group was established to coordinate how the group moves forward on its intentions.
Occasionally, one gets to be involved on the ground-floor of something new, that could have significant impact. Those three days laid the foundation.