Thursday, July 31, 2008

Serving in the World Baptist Family

I wrote this article for the BGCM e-message newsletter that was distributed today. I just returned from the Annual Gathering of the Baptist World Alliance in Prague, Czech Republic. I must admit that my body does not handle the long international trips as well as it did when I was younger. It takes a couple of days for me to recover.

The meeting was a wonderful gathering of the world Baptist family. In just the brief time the Baptist General Convention of Missouri has been a part of the North American Baptist Fellowship and the Baptist World Alliance I have had the opportunity to begin building some significant relationships with Baptists from around the world. Each year we have the opportunity to learn about how Baptists are responding to needs and sharing the Gospel in challenging settings. The Annual Gathering provides several forum discussion times as well as affinity group meetings. Each year I meet with the general secretaries or executive directors from around the world. We share about our ministries, our challenges, and our opportunities. We also spend time praying together.

I also serve on the Development and Advancement Committee of the BWA and the Freedom and Justice Commission. This commission meets several times during the Annual Gathering to hear presentations regarding related issues and to discuss opportunities we have as Baptists to stand with our brothers and sisters who are experiencing persecution or oppression. I also serve as the BGCM representative on the BWA General Council.

This year the General Council approved several recommendations from the Implementation Task Force Report. This task force has been at work for several years exploring ways the BWA can best position itself for effective ministry. I believe the initial recommendations approved this year will help broaden the global input with the global Baptist family. My perspective is for a number of years North Americans have dominated the leadership of the BWA in ways that were not always healthy for the organization. As these changes are implemented over the next two years, the Baptist World Alliance will become even more a “global” organization. Our convention is not a large convention, but through the Baptist World Alliance we are united with the world-wide Baptist family. I hope you will pray for your Baptist brothers and sisters and for the ministry of the Baptist World Alliance.

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