Joppa, a Baptist interfaith network, will close – but only because it has achieved its purpose of making interfaith issues more widely known within the British Baptist denomination.
In November, members of the Joppa committee decided to transfer the group’s work into the Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB).

BUGB set up an interfaith working group two and a half years ago under mission department head, Rev. Ian Bunce. There are plans to establish an interfaith network within the mission department.

Joppa was formed in 1985 to support Baptists who were engaging with other faith groups.

All members of the current Joppa committee have been invited to be members of BUGB’s working group. With interfaith work now so high on the agenda of the denomination, the decision was made to close Joppa as a “positive step in a new era for interfaith in the BU.”

“It was felt that Joppa had successfully fulfilled its aim to raise awareness of interfaith within the Union,” Rev. Mark Burleigh, head of chaplaincy for Leicester’s Hospitals, said.

“I wasn’t there at the start, but it seems even when I became a Joppa member, there wasn’t a commitment from the Union to get involved.

“It’s now much higher on the agenda, partly through the changes in society around us, and as a group we were pleased to see it’s been taken up in this way.”

Those present at the November meeting expressed their “heartfelt thanks” to all those who had worked to prepare the ground for “this significant move forward.”

“We are really grateful for the pioneering work Joppa has done,” Bunce said, “and the pain they have endured while many of us did not understand the importance of interfaith engagement.”

BUGB’s mission department will release three new interfaith resources next year.

A gathering to celebrate the 25 years of Joppa’s work will be held on March 7.

This article appeared originally in TheBaptistTimes of Great Britain.

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