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.

Two New Churches Join Association June 2023

It was a joy to see representatives from eight churches gathering for the second assembly of the Association of Confessional Baptist Churches (UK) at Trinity Grace Church, Ramsbottom on 20th June 2023. It was a delight to meet together, under the sound of God’s word, and share fellowship together in prayer and in the business of the churches. We praise God for the unity and love that was expressed in our Lord Jesus Christ.

It was with delight that we were able to formally receive 2 new churches into the association, namely North Church, Leicester and Countesthorpe Baptist Church. These 2 churches were no strangers to the association, having been represented at many of the discussion meetings. We thank God for their input in these meetings, and look forward to many years of meaningful association with them.

Saturday 30th September – This meeting is planned to be held on a Saturday to enable the members of the churches to be more readily able to attend. In the morning we will have a teaching session on the confession, as well as news from the churches and opportunity for prayer. There will also be an extended lunch break to give the opportunity for fruitful fellowship. Then the rest of the afternoon will be devoted to the business of the association. The venue will be Christ Church, Loughborough.

Association of Confessional Baptist Churches in the United Kingdom Inaugural Assembly March 7th 2023

We rejoice and give thanks to our glorious God for the establishment of a confessional association of churches in the United Kingdom. On March 7th we held our inaugural assembly at Countesthorpe Baptist Church, Leicestershire, to formally establish the Association of Confessional Baptist Churches in the UK. We praise our God for hearing and answering our prayers in uniting our churches together in a formal association. This new association of churches is the fruit of many years of prayer, deliberation and discussion, and the fervent desire of our churches to see the restoration of confessional reformed Baptist theology, piety and practice among us. Nine Churches sent messengers to the assembly, with three formally constituting at this time; Living Hope Bible Church, Lydd, Stanley Park Church, Liverpool, and Trinity Grace Church, Ramsbottom. A messenger from each church agreed to hold communion among themselves under the 2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith 1677/89 according to our constitution and signed a copy of the constitution committing to the following words:

We hold tenaciously to the inerrant and infallible word of God as found in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments in the Holy Bible. This is the one, only, full, final, and sufficient authority in all saving knowledge, faith, and practice. We embrace as our subordinate standard the 2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 as an accurate expression and summary of that system of doctrine taught in the Holy Bible. We are committed to associate with all other member churches according to the attached constitution, with prayerful and loving support.

Association Discussion Meeting: September 2022 Trinity Grace

On 27th September Trinity Grace Church hosted our sixth and final association discussion meeting. We have held these meetings over the past eighteen months seeking to establish a national association of confessional Baptist churches. We thank our triune God for blessing our meetings and being pleased to unite our churches together for the advancement of our good and his glory among us. At the meeting the messengers were able to finalize a draft constitution in order to  take it back to our particular churches for consideration, review and approval.  Our first association meeting is planned for 7th March 2023, where we hope to constitute as a national association of confessional Baptist churches. Please join with us in praying for our churches and this future association. We also ask that other confessional Baptist churches prayerfully consider holding communion with us under the 2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith 1677/89. 

Association Discussion Meeting: June 2022 Countesthorpe

We thank God for the association discussion meeting held on June 21st at Countesthorpe Baptist Church. 16 men representing 9 churches attended the meeting in order to discuss the establishment of a confessional association of Baptist churches. We desire an association of churches which fully subscribes to the 2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith and seek to live out our confession together as churches. We give thanks to God that there was a spirit of unity, and a great desire to see association come to fruition in coming days.

The day began with exhortation from the Scriptures by Eddie Roberts, pastor of Stanley Park Church, to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. It was also a great blessing to enjoy communion together and to share what the Lord was doing among us and to seek these good and prosperity of all of our churches and her members.

The majority of the day was spent in extensive deliberations on the drafting of a constitution. In it we agreed, that:

“Churches of the same faith and gospel order, as they all have drunk of the one and same Spirit, are branches of the one and same body and hold to the one and same head, and have one Lord, one faith, and one baptism; may and ought to have and enjoy voluntary fellowship and friendly association together, as opportunity may arise. Therefore, in the discharge of those relative duties that may tend to the mutual benefit and edification of all of Christ’s churches (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:5; John 17:20-26), confessional Reformed Baptist churches in the United Kingdom have come together to form a national association of churches.”

Association Discussion Meeting: March 29th 2022 Loughborough

We give thanks to God for our fourth association discussion meeting which was hosted by Christ Church Loughborough. On March 29th 15 men representing 9 churches met to continue to discuss the establishment of a national association of confessional Reformed Baptist churches. We thank God for the unity that we have in the Lord Jesus Christ by the Spirit of God, and moreover, the unity which we share in our common confession of faith. Please click below to see the schedule for the day, and a full report including a list of the churches involved.

Association Discussion Meeting Report: September 2021

We give thanks to God for our third discussion meeting held at Trinity Grace Church. On September 28th, 21 men, representing 12 different churches, gathered to discuss the establishment of a national association of confessional Baptist churches. It was an encouraging and fruitful day of discussion and fellowship, whereby we deliberated on nine topics which we hope will aid in the writing of a constitution for a future association of churches.  May God be pleased to unite our churches together so that we might experience the peace, increase of love and mutual edification promised when we hold communion together according to the mind of Christ.

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.