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27
Jun

A New Publication

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
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When, in 2016, BWA gave me a seven-week sabbatical, the hope was that I could use this time to help me make significant progress in completing a manuscript, just published by Judson Press, with the title, From Fragmentation to Wholeness: Race, Ethnicity, and Communion.

The book, which can be acquired from Judson Press (www.judsonpress.com), focuses on one of the central motifs of my decade of service as BWA General Secretary. I am convinced that, if the church belongs to God and is part of God’s plan to unite all of creation under one head, namely Jesus Christ, then it must live into the unity that God has given her in Christ. The unity the church is called to manifest reflects the unity that is found in the Godhead.

God’s church manifests itself in various forms – fundamentally as congregations of diverse persons joined together as one; as associations of churches in a geographical region of a country; as ecclesial bodies existing on the state, national and regional levels; and in worldwide fellowships, called Christian World Communions (CWCs).

In the current age of disintegration and individualism, CWCs can model, for the church at other levels, how to exercise responsible stewardship of unity – an important gift and calling from God. In so doing, they can advance the divine purpose for the church to be a sign and symbol of the unity that God wills for all creation.

The Triune God forms the church as the body of Christ and gives to the church the gift of Holy Communion. When understood in its rich symbolism, the Eucharist provides lenses through which to see the relationship, fellowship, partnership and solidarity that participants at the Lord’s Table are privileged to share with each other, irrespective of their background, ethnicity, history or culture.

In From Fragmentation to Wholeness, I recommend members of the church to understand the relationships they share with others in the perspective of the Lord’s Supper. This is one way to appropriate the gift needed to overcome the divisions that mar the community of God’s own people. The divisiveness of distinctions such as “race,” ethnicity and separation, based on age, gender and patriarchy, will be exposed when these features are perceived in the light of Holy Communion.

I hope the book will encourage Christians to enter into open conversation on what, in some situations, is the feared question of “race” and the complex issue of “ethnicity” and to do so in the perspective of a hermeneutic that is derived from the Lord’s Supper. I also hope that emerging contextual theologies will take fully into account the manifestation of God’s presence in people’s lives in the fullness of their culturally defined distinctions.

Do we not all need to promote respect for the integrity of each and every human being created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27, etc.)? I hope those who share the convictions expressed in the book will act courageously to help rid the church of the cancer of misplaced pride, arrogance and bigotry.

Churches face the urgent challenge to commit themselves to advancing the move from a damaging fragmentation to the full flowering of all human beings. Only with the healing of our sometimes open, and sometimes hidden, divisions can we convincingly proclaim the Gospel message of reconciliation.

From Fragmentation to Wholeness: Race, Ethnicity, and Communion is available at Judson Press.

 

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Neville George Callam, a Jamaican, has been serving as general secretary and chief executive officer of the Baptist World Alliance since his election in Accra, Ghana in 2007.

Comments

  • Guest
    Solomon Kimuyu Saturday, 01 July 2017

    This article comes at a time when the whole world is at crossroads of sin. Yes, sin race and tribalism. In the third Africa is tribalism, USA is race and Europe and the rest of the world is Ideology. Here at home US we think it is OK to empress ideology verses the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I have written and provided extensive leadership training to East African church leadership for all denominations for since 2007 just about your entire time as Gen. Secretary.

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Guest Friday, 17 November 2017