Sunday, August 28, 2011

Partners in the Global Baptist Family

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of representing Churchnet at the Annual Gathering of the Baptist World Alliance in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. More than 300 Baptists from around the world came together for this meeting of the global Baptist Family on July 4-9. I must admit the trip was a challenge—more than 30 hours traveling each way and a 13 hour time difference. I had just about adjusted to the Malaysian time zone when it was time to come home. But the travel challenges did not diminish the significance of the gathering. These annual gatherings and the Baptist World Congress which meets every five years are unlike any other Baptist gatherings I have ever attended.

The richness of the diversity of the worldwide Baptist family and opportunity to worship, pray, fellowship, work together, and learn from each other is a wonderful experience. I serve on the General Council of the Baptist World Alliance which conducts the business of the Baptist World Alliance during these annual gatherings. I also serve on one of the commissions in the Freedom and Justice Division, and I am a member of the Promotion and Development Committee.

The four Commissions of the Division on Freedom and Justice offer to gifted Baptist Christians opportunity to engage in research and dialogue around assigned areas of concern. Commission members are expected to develop recommendations and resources intended to assist BWA member bodies and churches to live out their calling in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Division comprises the following Commissions: the Commission on Religious Freedom, the Commission on Peace, the Commission on Social and Environmental Justice, and the Commission on Human Rights Advocacy.

I serve on the Commission on Social and Environmental Justice. The Commission on Social and Environmental Justice engages in research and discussion on situations marked by injustice. It suggests ways in which the BWA and its member bodies may bring the values of our faith to bear upon the situations identified. Poverty, creation care and racism are some of the issues of concern to this Commission.

This year our commission heard report on “The Face of the Burmese Refugee Church in Malaysia,” “The Effects of Environmental Injustice in Haiti & Southeast Asia,” and “The Church’s Intervention in Human Trafficking.” The reports were informative and challenging. I also had the privilege of being a part of the first meeting of a BWA Special Commission on Intra-Baptist Relations. This commission will be exploring how the BWA can more effectively engage the worldwide Baptist family in ways that improve our communication, understanding, and collaborative ministry around the world.

One of the highlights of the gathering every year is the opportunity to experience the culture and worship of the global Baptist family. Our Malaysian Baptist friends were wonderful hosts for our gathering, and the worship sessions we shared inspired me to live for Christ and deepened my commitment to being a partner with my brothers and sisters around the world. I am so grateful Churchnet is a part of this wonderful family.

This article was written for a July issue of Word&Way.

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