Our Commitment To Biblical & Confessional Association

Associations have been a part of fabric of Calvinistic Baptist ecclesiology from their inception. While they eagerly sought to uphold the independence of the local church, confessing that Christ has given all power and authority to each local church that is needful for their being, this independency never meant isolationism. Rather, the oneness of the body of Christ was to be reflected in their visible unity in associations of churches. It was our forefathers’ commitment to the word of God and reformation of the churches that led them to confess their congregational independency as well their interdependency. Therefore, the earliest particular Baptist churches in the 17th century formed regional associations to express their communion together. The Midlands association wrote a formal agreement in 1656 stating,
 
“we do therefore…mutually acknowledge each other to be true churches of Christ, and it is our duty to hold a close communion each to each other as the Lord shall give opportunity and ability, endeavouring that we may increase more and more in faith and knowledge and in all purity and holiness to the honour of our God, and it is the resolution, in the strength of Christ, to endeavour thus to do.”
 
In 1689 after gaining a newfound freedom under the rule of William and Mary, churches in London sought to follow this same resolution by forming a national association under the 2nd London Confession of Faith 1677/89. This confession of faith, which we wholeheartedly confess and embrace, declares the necessity of and benefits of associations of churches in chapter 26 paragraph 14 stating, that churches when planted by the providence of God, so as they may enjoy opportunity and advantage for it, ought to hold communion among themselves, for their peace, increase of love, and mutual edification.”  
 
In the same way, Trinity Grace Church is resolved, in the strength of Christ, to hold communion with other confessional Baptist churches by establishing a biblical association of churches. We desire an association of churches that stands firm upon the whole council of God and confesses the 2nd London Baptist Confession as the best summary of the Faith.  Moreover, we desire for our churches to live out this associational life for the good and prosperity of all our churches, as we are committed to mutual accountability, love, and care for one another in Christ.
 
Please pray with us that the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, would gather the churches together for our good and his glory in these days. Below you will find more information and reports from our previous discussion meetings, as well as helpful material on the nature of associations.

Upcoming Association Discussion Meeting: Tuesday 28th September 2021

Trinity Grace Church will be hosting our third discussion meeting on Tuesday, 28th September. We desire to establish a national association of churches that confess the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith and who live out this faith together as churches. We plan to have churches put forth various proposals for discussion to continue to work towards the constitution of an association in the near future.

If you would like more information about participating in this meeting or about the association, please get in touch with Oliver Allmand-Smith – otas@stormguard.co.uk or Brett Shaw – brett.andrew.shaw@gmail.com.

Independency and Inter-dependency: Associations of Particular Baptist Church Yesterday and Today by Dr. Robert Strivens

Dr. Robert Strivens is the pastor of Bradford on Avon Baptist Church and lecturer in Church History and Contemporary Studies at London Seminary. In this excellent article Dr. Strivens calls into question the isolationist and hyper-independent tendencies of many Baptist churches today and exhorts us to once again consider the inter-dependency of local independent churches. He exhorts us to reform our ecclesiology by emulating the example of the inter-church fellowship of our forefathers, based upon the apostolic example set forth in Scripture. Tracing the history of particular Baptist associations, Dr. Strivens helpfully lays out the theological principles that undergird biblical associations. Our forefathers believed it was their duty to hold communion together formally for defined purposes and for the good of the churches. Dr. Strivens gives a clarion call for the revival of formal inter-church relations, stating, “A lively reincarnation of such churches acting in association across Britain is, surely, greatly to be desired.”  This article starts on page 24 of Reformation Today Magazine May-June 2018. See the link below.

Association Discussion Meeting Report: June 2021

On 29th June Trinity Grace Church hosted a second discussion meeting in Ramsbottom in order to consider the establishment of a national association of confessional Baptist churches. Over 25 men from 14 different churches gathered to pursue holding communion together. We were edified by lectures given by Dr Robert Oliver, Oliver Allmand-Smith and Josh Williamson. We give thanks to God for the unity and brotherly love expressed in this meeting, and for the desire to be united together under our common confession of faith for the sake of the gospel and the good of all of our churches.

Association Discussion Meeting Report: March 2021

Trinity Grace Church hosted our first discussion meeting in March 2021 to consider the establishment of an association of confessional Baptist churches. We were blessed with three lectures on the biblical, confessional and practical necessity of associations. We also enjoyed fruitful discussion deliberating on each topic and warm fellowship with like-minded brethren.

Podcasts on Associationalism

Trinity Grace Podcast exists for the edification of believers through the recovery of confessional Christianity. Attached are two episodes discussing the biblical and confessional necessity for associations. In order to recover our confessional heritage, we must recover associationalsim, where churches enjoy “mutual peace, love and edification” in communion together.