BT Christian Network (BTCN)
Since the earliest days of the General Post Office, there was a Christian Union / Fellowship of some sort within the organisation. Sadly, following the changes of name and structure over the years, from GPO through British Telecom to BT, the Christian Union dwindled and by the Millennium was all but gone and forgotten.
Around this time a handful of Christians wanted to meet at lunchtimes for prayer and study together and, wanting to do things properly, asked if a room could be made available for them. They were met with a resounding NO! Undaunted, with much prayer, they started making contact with other Christians within the company and soon had over a hundred names of believers who wanted the opportunity to meet on BT premises. Still the answer was no!
Although continuing to pray about the matter, they let things go quiet until one day Peter Davies received a phone call, from senior management asking him if he was interested in starting up a Christian Network within the company. What could he say! Praise the Lord! A network was formed and advertised and people started to sign up from around the country. By 2006 the Network, although well formulated by then, held its first elections and a full Leadership Team was appointed.
Organised around ‘Local Building Fellowship groups’, with a lot of electronic communication through the telephone and the web, the network has grown to over 800 members in nearly 20 different countries. To cater for the ever-growing number of Home Workers, there is a Home Workers Fellowship Group, which organises monthly conference calls which are free for anyone to join in. Fellowship groups have been set up in India to encourage the Christians there, and the possibility of “virtual fellowship groups” is being looked at in other countries.
In the UK, BTCN obtained permission from senior management to hold Alpha Bible Studies in lunchtimes (the first company in the country to do so) and is now looking into ways of running such courses over the internet. For several years members have been encouraged to “Read the Bible in a Year” through a sign-up programme and a series of monthly talks (on a conference call) to introduce the next books the scheme members should read. We have also been running an initiative to offer a Free Bible to anyone in the company who requests it (this is done by a team of volunteers who are passed the requester’s name and then buy a bible to send them). To date, over 1,000 Bibles have been given out! A ‘Prayer Team’ offer to pray for anyone in the organisation and they regularly pray for the company, its policies and the senior management.
Each time we, as a Leadership Team, start to feel discouraged and tired, we look back and marvel at what the Lord has done throughout BT. From that original refusal to use a room in a single building, we are now part of a network of Christians within the company that spans the globe. We have been able to help Christians in other companies start up a network there and have also had opportunity to influence BT policy. That has not come from the individuals involved, but clearly through the Grace of God – and long may it do so!
Tim Rice, 16/11/2013