Midland Association 01

The Midland Association of Baptist Churches was founded in 1655. It continued to meet annually (in different places, usually for two days in Whitsun week) throughout Beddome's life time and beyond. By 1761 churches involved included those at Alcester, Bewdley, Bengeworth, Birmingham, Bourton (Beddome's church), Stow, Bridgnorth, Brittlelane, Bromsgrove, Dudley, Hooknorton, Leicester, Leominster, Middleton-Cheney, Pershore, Sutton, Upton, Tewkesbury, Warwick and Worcester. These churches were united in holding to the stated Calvinistic doctrines of the Trinity; election; original sin and man's depravity; particular redemption; free justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ; efficacious grace in regeneration and final perseverance, and the unstated Baptist doctrines as found in the 1689 Confession.
The association regularly produced a printed sheet set out in a quite stylised form similar to those produced by the other associations.
1. The heading The circular letter of
2. The elders and messengers of the several Baptist churches at Alcester, etc. Sometimes churches were unable to attend but sent letters of support.
3. Met in association at Bengeworth (or wherever else)
4. Maintaining the great doctrines of three equal persons, etc, etc
5. To the respective churches represented by them with a spiritual greeting or blessing
6. Dear or Beloved brethren
7. The circular letter itself then followed, taking up the bulk of the pamphlet (of 4 or 8 pages). This Letter was authored by a minister appointed for the year. It was read to the ministers and messengers assembled in association and could be amended by them before being adopted for printing and circulating to the members of the association churches.
8. The letter was signed by the moderator appointed for that association on behalf of the churches
9. Sometimes there was a PS advocating prayer meetings or such like
10. Minutes (or breviates) of the association's proceedings that year naming preachers and those who prayed came near the end. These minutes sometimes refer to issues raised by churches.
11. At the end of the minutes there was information about the time and place and sometimes the preachers for the next association. There was often reference to what inn to stay at.
12. From 1765 statistics were included regarding baptisms, deaths, etc, either before or after the last item.
13. The final line was usually the printer's – Worcester: printed by R Lewis – but that could be inserted elsewhere.
Beddome first preached for the Association in 1743. Regular printing of its Circular letter apparently began in 1759. Details are sketchy, therefore, 1743-1758. Beddome preached at the association 17 times over 46 years (ie 1743-1789). That first one of 1743 was held in Leominster. He must have preached another 10 times 1744-1763. He went on to preach another 6 times – 1764, 1767, 1773, 1778, 1780 and 1789. He probably authored the circular letters of 1759 and 1765. He was association moderator in 1761 and 1771.

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