General Secretary Bio
Neville George Callam, General Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Baptist World Alliance, was born in St. Ann, Jamaica. He grew up in a home where he was formed as a Baptist Christian. After attending York Castle High School, operated by the Methodist Church, he worked for a year in Barclays Bank. His training for the Christian ministry took him to the ecumenical United Theological College of the West Indies, the University of the West Indies, and Harvard Divinity School.
His wide range of interests and his commitment to community development have led him to serve in many capacities in both church and society. He has served as educator and media manager, theologian and ecumenist, pastor and church administrator.
An educator, he lectured at the Jamaica Theological Seminary, United Theological College of the West Indies, and the Jamaica Institute of Management. He served as Chairman of the Board of Management of the Calabar High School in Kingston and as member of the Board of Governors and Education Council of the United Theological College of the West Indies. He served on evaluation teams for theological seminaries on behalf of the University Council of Jamaica, the accreditation body for colleges and universities in the country.
Dr. Callam held several senior positions in media in Jamaica, serving as a founding director of the National Religious Media Company of Jamaica, a radio and television broadcasting company. He established the community radio station, The Breath of Change, and served as its Board Chairman. He also served as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica, a public statutory organization.
An ecumenist, Dr. Callam held several leadership positions in the Jamaica Council of Churches and was, for thirteen years, a member of the prestigious Standing Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches. The Faith and Order movement serves the churches in their effort to resolve doctrinal issues adversely affecting their unity.
Ordained to the Christian ministry by the Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) in 1977, Dr. Callam has served in pastorates in May Pen and Kingston, Jamaica. He has held many leadership positions JBU including vice-president, president, treasurer, and acting general secretary. He is also a former vice president of the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship, one of the six regional fellowships of the Baptist World Alliance.
Beginning in 1985, Dr. Callam has been associated with the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), the global Baptist movement which has membership in 121 countries comprising a community of 42 million and serving a worldwide Baptist family of 110 million. He participated as a member of several workgroups, commissions and committees of the BWA and also its Executive Committee and General Council and served a five-year term as a BWA vice president. In 2007, he became the first person from the Global South to be appointed as the general secretary and chief executive officer the BWA, thereby becoming the first church leader from the Caribbean to lead a Christian World Communion.
Dr. Callam is a recipient of several awards. He served as a Lay Magistrate in Jamaica from 1988-2006. In 1991, the Jamaica Council of Churches presented him with a Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Work in the area of ecumenism. In 1992, on the occasion of its twenty-fifth anniversary, his alma mater, United Theological College of the West Indies, honored him with a Certificate of Recognition as an Outstanding Graduate of the institution. He was Special Honoree of the St. Ann Homecoming and Heritage Committee in 2009.
In the United States, he is the recipient of Certificates of Recognition from the State of California Senate and the City of Compton, California; Certificates of Appreciation from the California State Assembly and the City of San Antonio, Texas; and the Mayor’s Award for Distinguished Public Service from the City of Harrisburg, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Office of the President of the Borough of Brooklyn, New York, issued a Proclamation declaring October 3, 2007 as Reverend Neville Callam Celebration Day.
Dr. Callam has been conferred with honorary doctorates by Dallas Baptist University in Texas and Judson University in Illinois, USA, and by the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology in Jamaica.
Author or editor of seven books, the most recent being Pursuing Unity and Defending Rights: The Baptist World Alliance at Work (2010), Dr. Callam has made presentations at fora, symposia, seminars, workshops and services of worship in more than 70 countries. He was one of the electoral observers serving on behalf of the United Nations in the elections in South Africa in 1994 which saw Nelson Mandela becoming President of that country.
Married to Dulcie Allison for more than thirty years, the Callams are the proud parents of two adult children, Diedre and Gairy, who with his wife Taniquea, has qualified them as happy grandparents of two girls, Krista and Kari.