BOURNEMOUTH, England — British Baptists marked the 400th anniversary of the founding of the first Baptist congregation in 1609 in an annual meeting of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and BMS World Mission May 1-4.
This year's Baptist Assembly passed a resolution opposing the use of "mosquito alarms," electronic devices that emit an annoying high-frequency sound audible only to most people under 24 to combat loitering.
The resolution called their use an "example of unjust and discriminatory treatment of young people" that "serves to reinforce popular misconceptions" and adds to "marginalization often experienced by young people within our society."
Another resolution called on the British government to improve rights for asylum seekers by conferring a right to work for those who have waited longer than six months for their case to be resolved and ending the detention of children.
A recent study estimated there are half a million failed asylum seekers in the UK, many of them living in extreme poverty.
The gathering also featured induction of a new president, Ghanian-born Kingsley Appiagyei, founder of the two largest Baptist churches in the UK. Appiagyei, 56, is senior minister of South London's Trinity Baptist Church in Norwood. He started the church in his home with eight people. Today it has more than 2,000 members. It is the second largest church in the Baptist union, behind Calvary Charismatic Baptist Church in Plaistow, one of Appiagyei's church plants.
The new president lamented lost influence of Christians in British culture and problems like the economy and rising crime but predicted "a revival and a fresh awakening" in the nation's churches.
"This is a time to expect great things from God, and also to attempt great things for God," Appiagyei said, quoting from William Carey, a missionary to India and founding father of the Baptist tradition in Britain. "Remember, the God of our past is still the God of our present and forever he will be the same God for our future."
Neville Callam, general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, also spoke to about 2,000 worshippers attending the assembly in Bournemouth, a resort city on England's southern coast.
Callam reminded the congregation of past British missionaries such as William Knibb and James Phillippo who went to Jamaica in the Caribbean, and urged British Baptists to be obedient to "the work we are called to do."
With reporting by Chris Hall of the Baptist Union of Great Britain.