Monday, July 28, 2008

A Global Baptist Family

I just returned from the Annual Gathering fo the BWA in Prague. I wrote this article for the Word&Way issue published while I was attending the BWA meeting. There are still many Baptists in Missouri who know very little about the world Baptist family. The Baptist World Alliance is a fellowship of 214 Baptist conventions and unions comprising a membership of 36 million baptized believers and a community of 105 million. The Baptist World Alliance began in London, England, in 1905 at the first Baptist World Congress.

The mission statement of the BWA is Networking the Baptist family to impact the world for Christ. Our vision statement is The Baptist World Alliance is a global movement of Baptists sharing a common confession of faith in Jesus Christ, bonded together by God’s love to support, encourage and strengthen one another, while proclaiming and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit to a lost world.

Last year at our Annual Gathering Neville Callam was elected as our new General Secretary. This year Baptists from around the world will be gathering to consider the report of our BWA Implementation Task Force. This task force has been leading the efforts of the BWA to think strategically about how we might more effectively accomplish our mission and vision.

The goals of the Baptist World Alliance are: (1) To unite Baptists worldwide, (2) To lead in world evangelism, (3) To respond to people in need, (4) To defend human rights, and (5) To promote theological reflection. The BWA includes six regional fellowships: the All Africa Baptist Fellowship, the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship, the European Baptist Federation, the Union of Baptists in Latin America, and the North American Baptist Fellowship.

The Baptist General Convention a member of the North American Baptist Fellowship and the Baptist World Alliance. I have the privilege of representing our convention on the General Council at our Annual Gathering each year. It is an incredible experience to fellowship with Baptist brothers and sisters around the world. I hope you will pray for the ministry of the Baptist World Alliance. I hope you will prayer for our brothers and sisters around the world. Many are dealing with incredible challenges as they seek to share the Gospel.

I have been involved in discussions with representatives from several Baptist bodies from the North American Baptist Fellowship who live and serve here in Missouri or the Midwest. We are exploring the possibility of building more intentional relationships to strength our ministries and provide opportunities for greater collaboration for Kingdom ministries. I am grateful for the opportunities our involvement in the BWA brings to the Baptists of Missouri. I hope you will begin planning now to attend the BWA World Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 28 through August 1, 2010. Thank you for being committed to being a part of the global Baptist family.

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