Baptists among those killed in suicide bombing in Pakistan


At least seven Baptists died in a bombingGulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore. The bomb was detonated by the park's main gate that killed more than 70 people on Easter Sunday, March 27, in the city of Lahore in Pakistan.

According to a Baptist World Alliance (BWA) source in Lahore, 74 persons, 54 of them Christians, were among those killed by a Taliban suicide bomber at a park where Christians were celebrating after attending Easter Sunday services in their respective congregations.

A total of 39 children had died, two of whom were Baptists.

The BWA source indicated that one Baptist member, a female, is still missing and unaccounted for.

“In Pakistan, it is getting very difficult for Christians to live and to breathe,” the source told the BWA.

He accused the government of not doing enough to protect Christians, a minority in the South Asian country, despite having known the threats they face. “Pakistan should have provided security to all minorities, but the Government has failed,” he said.

Pakistan, a majority-Muslim country with a population of almost 200 million, has just over two million Christians.

Baptist World Alliance®
© March 30, 2016


BWA appoints new chief administrative officer to the UN

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) has appointed Darrell Armstrong, a Baptist pastor in the state of New Jersey in the United States, as its chief administrative officer at the United Nations (UN). He succeeds attorney Mark Wiggs.

Armstrong, a BWA representative to the UN since 2013, will supervise the BWA team serving with the UN in New York, United States; Geneva, Switzerland; and Vienna, Austria. He will determine who, from the list of approved BWA representatives, will participate in the various events in which BWA desires to participate.

An author and human rights advocate, he has had a longstanding commitment to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and teaching religious tolerance.

“I am delighted that Darrell has consented to take up this new responsibility on a voluntary basis,” BWA General Secretary Neville Callam said. “I am confident that Darrell has the experience, giftedness and enthusiasm to serve as requested.”

Armstrong is pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton, New Jersey. In 2010, he was elected the first non-Presbyterian Trustee to Princeton Theological Seminary’s Board of Trustees.

He holds degrees from Stanford University in California, Princeton Theological Seminary and The College of New Jersey.

Since 1974, the BWA has had Special Consultative Status at the UN through the Economic and Social Council.

BWA is also a member of the UN Committee of Nongovernmental Organizations, and enjoys consultative relationship with the Conference of NGOs (CoNGO), an international membership association.

The global organization has access to 41 nongovernmental organization (NGO) committees in New York, Geneva, and Vienna.

The BWA is also accredited as an NGO through the UN’s Department of Public Information (DPI), which enables it to participate in briefings and receive announcements from DPI; is a member of the Committee of Religious NGOs; and collaborates with the Ecumenical Working Group that provides a forum for common work on issues of concern to UN representatives of Christian World Communions.

BWA UN involvement includes Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR) of the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), presenting alternative human rights reports on particular UN Member States.

At Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil in 2012, BWA co-sponsored side events and submitted documents contributing to the focus of the discussions there.

The BWA has actively participated in the annual meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women.

Baptist World Alliance®
© March 30, 2016

BWA announces major evangelism award

Kowloon International Baptist Church of Hong Kong at worshipBaptist World Alliance (BWA) General Secretary Neville Callam announced a new major award made possible by Kowloon International Baptist Church (KIBC) of Hong Kong.

KIBC is known for its strong commitment to evangelism and is a longtime supporter of the BWA.

The award highlights the work of evangelism among Baptists around the world and aims to inspire churches in this vital ministry.

An initial grant of US$60,000 has been made by KIBC to be followed with additional disbursements each year, to a minimum total of US$250,000.

Earnings on the fund will be applied to quinquennial (five-year) awards in evangelism. The first such award will be made at the July 2020 BWA Congress, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“We believe KIBC’s reputation as a church recognizing the priority of evangelism will raise this award to the level of other distinguished awards in the worldwide Baptist family,” Callam stated.

“The ministry of evangelism is at the very heart of the church’s vocation and it has long been my desire to see the BWA find additional ways to signal its importance appropriately,” he declared.

“Coming right before the start of the Christmas season, this KIBC grant reminds us of one significant implication of God becoming a person in Jesus Christ, that is, the Christian obligation to spread the Good News to the entire world.”

KIBC ministers in the center of life in Kowloon in Hong Kong, and is a dynamic and diverse congregation with members from more than 24 countries and a heart for evangelism.

“The congregation is led by a pastor whose dynamic preaching and heart for world evangelism have inspired KIBC to sponsor several church building construction programs and various other mission ventures in fulfilment of the broad vision God has given them,” Callam announced.

Currently, BWA issues awards in recognition of Baptist work to promote or defend human rights. The new award is the first to recognize and support efforts in evangelism.

The BWA previously conducted two campaigns for equipping conventions, unions and churches for evangelism, Jesus Christ, the Living Water, and Jesus Christ, Bread of Life. During these programs, 24 intensive training conferences were conducted in 19 countries.

The new evangelism award came through the efforts of the BWA general secretary and Harry Lucenay, retiring pastor at KIBC, who preached his final sermon at KIBC on December 20.

“The people of Kowloon International Baptist Church are pleased to be a part of this good effort,” Lucenay said. “The award is established by Kowloon International Baptist Church to encourage evangelism.”

Baptist World Alliance®
© December 23, 2015

Baptists and Methodists hold third dialogue session in Germany

Participants at a preivous BWA/WMC dialogueThe Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and the World Methodist Council (WMC) will be engaged in the third session of the international theological dialogue between the two Christian World Communions. Both teams will meet at the Theological Seminary at Elstal, Germany, from February 3-10.

Previous sessions of the BWA/WMC dialogue were held in the United States in 2014 and in Singapore in 2015.

The week of meetings will cover the theme, “Making Disciples: Baptism as Christian Initiation” and will explore topics such as “Ecumenical conversations and agreements on baptism in Germany” and “Regional soundings on baptism from various parts of the world” such as Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and North America.

Historical, theological, liturgical and ecumenical perspectives and understandings of baptism will be explored.

Relevant excerpts from international and regional ecumenical texts regarding baptism are being selected, collated and distributed, with participants encouraged to contribute material from their respective region.

Other activities will include a tour of the German capital of Berlin and a visit to the birthplace of Martin Luther. Protestants, Baptists included, will mark the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation in 2017.

Luther had nailed 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, German, in 1517, an act that sparked the Protestant Reformation movement and a major break from the Roman Catholic Church.

The BWA delegation comprises dialogue Co-chair Curtis Freeman, research professor of theology and director of the Baptist House of Studies at Duke University Divinity School in the United States; Deji Isaac Ayegboyin, professor of Church History and African Christianity and at the Department of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan in Nigeria; Valérie Duval-Poujol, professor of biblical exegesis at the Catholic Institute, Paris, France, and director for its Institute for Bible and Orientalism; Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University in the US; Stephen Holmes, senior lecturer in theology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland; and R. L. Hnuni, principal of Calcutta Bible Seminary in Kolkata, India.

Methodist representatives are dialogue Co-chair Tim Macquiban, minister of Wesley Church and superintendent minister in the United Kingdom; Paul W. Chilcote, academic dean and professor of historical theology and Wesleyan Studies at Ashland Theological Seminary in the US; Christine Gooden-Benguche, secretary, Jamaica District Conference, Methodist Church of the Caribbean and the Americas; Lauren Claire Matthew, minister in the Umngeni Circuit, Natal Coastal District in South Africa, district supervisor of studies of the General Committee of Education for Mission and president of the Youth and Young Adult Committee of the WMC; Ulrike Schuler, professor for Church History, Methodism, and Ecumenism at Reutlingen School of Theology in Germany; and Malcolm Tan, pastor, Barker Road Methodist Church in Singapore.

BWA director of Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection, Fausto Vasconcelos, who serves as co-secretary along with Paul Chilcote, will also be present.

Baptist World Alliance®
© February 2, 2016

Lebanese and French Baptists react to attacks

A crowd gathers in front of one of the scenes  affected by the events of November 13 in Paris (Photo byLaurent Pele)Baptists in both Lebanon and France reacted to attacks by the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, in their countries that occurred a day apart from each other.

On November 12, two bombings took place in Bourj el-Barajneh, a suburb of Beirut, Lebanon’s capital city, killing more than 45 people and leaving more than 200 wounded

On the evening of November 13, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks, consisting of mass shootings, suicide bombings and hostage-taking occurred in Paris, the capital of France, and its northern suburb, Saint-Denis. One hundred and thirty six people were killed in the attacks, including seven perpetrators, and some 430 injured.

Nabil Costa, executive director of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development and a former vice president of the Baptist World Alliance, said Baptists in the Middle Eastern country “were deeply saddened by the recent attacks on Beirut and Paris.”

Costa stated that, “as the church, our mandate remains the same regardless of the circumstances. We strive to remain faithful and live Christ and reflect His practical love and such values as love your neighbor as yourself, love your enemy [and] pray for those who trespass against you.” He declared that “the darker the world, the brighter should be the Light of the Church.”

Marc Deroeux, general secretary of the Federation of Evangelical Baptist Churches of France (FEEBF), said his country, “where the state of emergency has been decreed, wakes up in pain, grief and bereavement.” The incidents, he said, were “beyond outrage, sadness and understanding.”

Deroeux encouraged French Baptists to provide practical and prayerful support to all those who are in need.

Rebecca Cuquemy, FEEBF assistant secretary general, said “we deeply appreciate the solidarity and prayers of our brothers and sisters from the Baptist World Alliance worldwide.”

Noting that terrorism “has no nationality,” Costa called on “the global church to join us in prayer for those families who have been directly affected by the recent attacks in Lebanon and in France, but also in other countries, too, where terrorists play havoc in the lives of innocent civilians.”

Baptist World Alliance®
© November 18, 2015