Callam names BWA team for dialogue with Pentecostals

Baptist World Alliance (BWA) General Secretary Neville Callam has named the team that is to represent the BWA in the international Baptist-Pentecostal dialogue that begins in Quito, Ecuador, in August.

In March of this year, the Executive Committee of the BWA gave authorization to Callam to "gather a small team of competent theologians and church leaders reflecting the cultural diversity of the world Baptist family to undertake an international theological dialogue with Pentecostals."

Team members have been drawn from the six regions of the BWA:  Henry Mugabe from Zimbabwe (Africa); Miyon Chung from South Korea (Asia); Burchell Taylor from Jamaica (Caribbean); Nigel Wright from the United Kingdom (Europe); Richard Serrano of Venezuela (Latin America); and William Brackney from Canada and David Goatley from the United States (North America).

Mugabe is a visiting professor of theology at the Richmond Theological Seminary  in the United States and is former president of the Baptist Theological Seminary of Harare; Chung is professor at the Torch Trinity Graduate School of Theology, is vice chair of the BWA Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection (METR) Advisory Committee, and a member of the BWA Commission on Doctrine and Christian Unity; Taylor is pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church in St. Andrew, teaches several courses at the United Theological College of the West Indies, and is a vice president of the BWA, among other BWA appointments.

Wright is principal of Spurgeon's College; Serrano is president of the Baptist Theological Seminary in Venezuela; Brackney is director of the Acadia Center for Baptist and Anabaptist Studies at Acadia Divinity College, a member of the BWA Commission on Christian Ethics and the Commission on Doctrine and Christian Unity, among other BWA appointments; and Goatley is executive secretary-treasurer of the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention and, among other BWA appointments, sits on the General Council and is chair of the METR Advisory Committee.

Callam said that the "BWA is highly respectful of the leaders of all Christian World Communions and the families of churches they serve."   The BWA, he explained, "expects that the dialogue with the Pentecostals will offer an opportunity both to formulate clear statements on doctrinal agreements that Baptists share with Pentecostals," and to "engage constructively around the issues on which we are not yet agreed."

This is the seventh theological dialogue in which the BWA will be engaged. The first was with the World Alliance of Reformed Churches from 1973-1977 followed by talks with the Roman Catholic Church from 1984-1988; the Lutheran World Federation from 1986-1990; the Mennonite World Conference from 1989-1992; the Anglican Communion between 2000 and 2005; and the Roman Catholic Church (Second Round) from 2006-2010.

This first round of the Baptist-Pentecostal Dialogue continues through to 2015.

© Baptist World Alliance
May 24, 2012

BWA launches new website

A newly redesigned website for the Baptist World Alliance is now online. The site officially went live on May 11 with a new interface.

The website features new elements and easier access for users.  It will create savings for the BWA making it unnecessary to create special websites for major events, such as the Baptist Youth World Conference in Singapore in 2013 and the Baptist World Congress in Durban, South Africa, in 2015.

Donations through the website are now easier and simpler for those who wish to offer financial gifts to the BWA online.

A blog by General Secretary Neville Callam is one of the new features. Readers are encouraged to submit comments on the blog.

Space is provided for news, information and articles in other languages. BWA member Baptist conventions and unions are encouraged to submit relevant information for this segment of the website.

Other features include a Find a Church map that allows those planning a visit to another country to find a church for worship while traveling.  BWA member organizations are encouraged to submit lists of their churches to be included in the Find a Church database. An interactive map of all BWA member bodies is also available on the site.

The Baptist World Alliance mobile app for iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android devices is also available and can be downloaded here free of cost.

The newly redesigned website can be viewed at http://www.bwanet.org.

© Baptist World Alliance
May 18, 2012

Callam calls for rethink on ethnicity

Christian unity may require rethinking the use of the language of ethnicity, said Baptist World Alliance General Secretary Neville Callam, at a lecture in Texas in the United States.

Callam, who delivered the annual T. B. Maston Lectures in Christian Ethics at Hardin-Simmons University’s (HSU) Logsdon Theological Seminary in Abilene, Texas, in April, argued “that terms like ‘ethnic’ or ‘ethnicity’ are not as unproblematic as some may think.”

In his first lecture, titled, Ethnicity: Establishing Borders of Exclusion, Callam identified three principal understandings of ethnicity and suggested that terms such as “ethnic” and “ethnicity” may be understood as mythical concepts that play a major role in social differentiation, and may actually be used to promote negative stereotypes.

While the meaning of “ethnic churches” is not used in the same way by those who adopt it, it appears “that [the] designation is reserved for churches formed by immigrant people or for persons deemed to be minorities in their residential context,” Callam said. Callam asked that care be taken in the use of the language of ethnicity and offered suggestions on how this can be achieved.

In his second lecture, entitled Communion: Celebrating Inclusive Community, Callam posited that Holy Communion is a community meal that potentially can  overcome boundaries that Christians construct through the use of ethnic categories.

The meaning of the Holy Communion as a community-defining and solidarity-conferring meal, he said, “implies that Christians need to deconstruct their understanding of ethnicity in order to enable the acknowledgement of our common bond in Christ Jesus.” In this way, he continued, “the Lord’s Supper will be a celebration of grace, a banquet of love, and a festival of solidarity.

The T. B. Maston Lectures in Christian Ethics is an annual lecture series presented by Logsdon Seminary and The Logsdon School of Theology of HSU. The lectures seek to honor the legacy of Dr. T.B. Maston, longtime professor of Christian ethics and pioneering Baptist ethicist, known for his writing and teaching in the areas of biblical ethics, race relations, family life, church and state, and character formation.

 

© Baptist World Alliance
May 9, 2012

Prominent Baptist layman memorialized

Christians need to avoid the extremes of utopianism and cynicism if they are to live in a world marked by ambiguity, said Timothy George, founding dean and professor of Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, in the United States.

George delivered the homily at the memorial service for Charles “Chuck” Colson on May 16. Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship International and a member of First Baptist Church in Naples, Florida, died on April 21 from complications resulting from a brain hemorrhage.

George, who is chair of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Commission on Doctrine and Church Unity, told the congregation that believers have the assurance of God’s promise in a world characterized by both light and darkness. He indicated that persons such as Colson, John Stott, Martin Luther King, and Billy Graham provide witness of God’s rich provision. These persons, he said, are signposts along the road of God’s providential care on life’s pilgrimage.

In her tribute, Colson’s daughter, Emily, described her father’s commitment to his family and spoke of the conviction he shared while he was yet alive, that “death is the culmination of life; it is a homecoming, a celebration.”

The service featured tributes from Danny Croce of New Hope Correctional Ministry and  Albert Quie, former Governor of the US State of Minnesota and former member of the US House of Representatives.

BWA General Secretary Neville Callam, who attended the memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC, said “it was a fitting tribute to one of the many outstanding Baptist laypersons whose witness to Christ's transforming power continues to be a wonderful source of inspiration.”

Colson was a special counsel to US President Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1973. He was imprisoned for seven months for his role in the Watergate affair that led to the resignation of Nixon in 1974. After his release, he became a noted Evangelical Christian leader and cultural commentator. Most notably, he founded Prison Fellowship International in 1976, an outreach ministry to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families. He also helped to form Justice Fellowship to push for legislative reforms in the US criminal justice system.

 

Visit the new BWA website and download the new BWA Mobile App for your smart phone.

© Baptist World Alliance
May 17, 2012

 

Caribbean immigrants struggle to find church home in the US

Delroy Reid- Salmon, president of the Caribbean Diaspora Baptist Clergy Association, addressing a Caribbean conference of Caribbean immigrants in NY recentlyCaribbean Baptist immigrants have difficulty fitting into Baptist churches in the United States. This was revealed at a recent conference of Caribbean immigrants in New York City.

The April National Gathering of Caribbean Diaspora Baptist clergy, leaders and churches was billed as "a missional event to acknowledge and initiate discussion on the emergence, contribution and role of Baptists in the continuum of the Caribbean Diaspora."

A common theme expressed by Caribbean immigrants at the conference was the difficulty to find a "church home" upon migrating into the US. Raymond Anglin, a general secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) during the 1980s, stated that he "experienced a kind of culture shock upon moving to the United States." The Baptist churches he encountered in Florida and Georgia were "different from his experience in Jamaica in terms of authority, leadership, the attitude to androle of women, and in understanding of training."

 

 

Anglin, who says he now "has a fulfilling ministry as a Presbyterian pastor," indicated that his background in Jamaica prepared him for his current situation, as it "gave him an ecumenical dimension of ministry."

Delroy Murdock, pastor of a United Methodist Church in New York and a former Baptist pastor from Jamaica, said that, upon coming to the US, he "could not find a Baptist church that looked anything like those in Jamaica." Edward Jenkins, another Methodist pastor in New York who was a Baptist pastor in the Caribbean, said that he sees himself "as a Baptist in a Methodist church."

Banmattie Ram, a Baptist pastor from Guyana, said most of the Baptist churches she encountered in the US "were different from her experience in the Caribbean," but stated that "one must do ministry wherever one is."Sam and Lola Simpson being recognized for their pioneering work in planting churches that minister to Caribbean immigrants in NY. Making the presentation is noted Caribbean church historian, Horace Russell, left

Karl Johnson, general secretary of the JBU, said that the JBU is currently exploring ways of engaging in mission with Baptists in the Diaspora. He acknowledged that "the JBU has not grasped the opportunity presented by Caribbean people in the Diaspora." He said that the JBU had "dropped the ball and needed to repent and return to a mission consciousness."

Everton Jackson, Baptist World Alliance (BWA) regional secretary for the Caribbean and executive secretary/treasurer of the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship (CBF), said that "there are tremendous possibilities for cooperation between CBF and the Caribbean Diaspora churches." This is possible, he said, because Caribbean people, whether in the Caribbean or elsewhere, "share a common history" as well as "common needs for affirmation, self actualization, [and] a theology that speaks to our context."

Jackson informed participants at the conference that the CBF has plans to enter into collaboration with the United Theological College of the West Indies (UTCWI) to establish a Centre for Caribbean Baptist Studies at the institution. The UTCWI, an ecumenical college that is part of the University of the West Indies, the main university in the English speaking Caribbean, trains many of the Caribbean Baptist pastors.

Eron Henry, associate director of communications for the BWA, indicated that Caribbean Baptists in general, including those in the Diaspora, have played important roles in the BWA and have held significant positions within the international Baptist organization. Henry made special mention of current BWA General Secretary Neville Callam, Caribbean Baptists who are BWA vice presidents, and those who sit on committees and commissions of the BWA.

Delroy Reid-Salmon, president of the Caribbean Diaspora Baptist Clergy Association, which convened the conference, announced that his group is spearheading the establishment of a chair in the name of Horace Russell at the UTCWI. Russell is a past president of the school in the 1970s and later became a vice president and professor of historical theological at Palmer Theological Seminary near Philadelphia in the US.

Samuel Simpson, a Jamaican immigrant to the US, was honored for helping to pioneer the formation of Baptist churches that ministered to Caribbean immigrants in New York City, beginning in the 1960s. He recently retired as pastor of the Bronx and Wake Eden Baptist churches, two of the churches he founded.

© Baptist World Alliance
May 9, 2012