Baptist Union of Great Britain
Organized Baptist life in England had two distinct beginnings: the General Baptists which emerged from a group that returned in 1611 from the Netherlands where it had sought religious freedom, and the Particular Baptists who broke away in 1633 from a Calvinistic church in London. Both groups practised believers' baptism; the first one was Arminian in theology with a Presbyterian church order, the second was Calvinistic of an independent type. A "New Connexion" of the more evangelical General Baptists was formed in 1770 under the influence of the Methodist revival. During the 19th century this section of General Baptists gradually came closer to the Particular Baptists. The influence of the Baptist Missionary Society, founded in 1792, led to the formation in 1812-13 of the first Baptist Union amongst Particular Baptist churches. The Union had an uncertain early history, but after its re-formation in 1831-32, Particular Baptists and General Baptists of the New Connexion began to draw more closely together. This process culminated in 1891, when the General Baptists of the New Connexion amalgamated with the Baptist Union.
The Baptist Union consists of its member churches, associations and colleges. Its national resource, Baptist House, exists to resource its members in their fulfilment of Christ's commission, to coordinate the care of the churches, to strengthen the work where it is most needed, and to give expression to Baptist convictions in interchurch dialogue and in representing gospel concerns in the world at large.
The work at Baptist House takes place within five main departments: the ministry department oversees and supports all aspects of accreditation for the ordained ministry and other specialist ministries; research and training in mission offers training and supplies resources to help the local churches in their mission-related work, including evangelism, youth work, racial justice and community work; faith and unity resources Baptists working in formal and informal ecumenical partnerships, and looks after the doctrine and social justice work of the Union; the communications department is the Union's press office, and communicates the work of the Union and local churches; the finance and administration department looks after the ministers' pension fund and the allocation of home mission grants to churches, as well as including the Baptist Union corporation, which deals with legal issues on behalf of churches. The annual assembly is an inspirational event, shared with BMS World Mission, and it is the highest point of accountability for the work of the Union. The council meets twice a year in between assemblies, and manages the work of the national resource. A general secretary is appointed to help guide and lead the Baptist Union, and to serve as representative of its members to both the wider church and society.
The Baptist Union has a close partnership with the BMS World Mission, giving clear expression to the theological affirmation that there is only one mission for Christ, in whatever country it is to be found.