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

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

Sierra Leone declared Ebola free

Chlorinated water supplied by the BWA during the height of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone“It is with a great joy and praises to the Almighty God that Sierra Leone, on Saturday, 7 November, has been declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization (WHO) at a colorful ceremony at the Bintumani International Conference Centre in Aberdeen, Freetown.”

It was with these joyful words that Samuel Conteh, coordinator of social ministries for the Baptist Convention of Sierra Leone, wrote the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) in November 2015.

“WHO made this declaration after the country has gone through the 42 days incubation period without registering a case of Ebola. The declaration was made by WHO country representative Dr. Andres Nordstrom,” Conteh declared.

“Every district and most chiefdoms have had firsthand experience of this terrible disease. A total of 8,704 Sierra Leoneans were infected during the outbreak and we lost 3,589 of our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers and our sons and daughters. We lost 221 healthcare workers, including 11 doctors,” he elaborated.

“Please join us to remember all those who lost their lives and I pay special tribute to our healthcare workers and other Ebola Response Workers who made the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives as they tried to save the lives of others. May their souls rest in perfect peace.”

Conteh told the BWA that the work continues, including doubling citizens’ access to water, drastically reducing maternal and child mortality, creating sustainable jobs and reducing the size of overcrowded classrooms, in addition to a “comprehensive package of support for 4,051 Ebola survivors which will include free healthcare and psychosocial support.”

He extended thanks to the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and the worldwide family of Baptists for their assistance and prayers. “We are very grateful for your support and may the grace of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ be with you all. My special thanks to you and your team for the wonderful job you did in the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone. I say bravo and thank you for your support.”

“We praise God and celebrate with you and the people of Sierra Leone for this wonderful news,” said Rothangliani Chhangte, director of Baptist World Aid (BWAid). “While we are saddened by the loss of so many lives, especially those in the medical profession who served their people so valiantly in the face of such a dreadful disease, we hope that the country will come out stronger and more united.”

Liberia, another country that was badly affected by the Ebola virus in 2014 into 2015, was declared Ebola free in May 2015. More than 9,550 Liberians were known to have contracted the disease with almost 4,300 having died as a result of the outbreak.

BWAid, the relief and development arm of the BWA, had extended significant assistance to both countries in the fight against Ebola.

Baptist World Alliance®
© November 16, 2015

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


BWA Women’s director to retire

Patsy Davis, executive director of the Baptist World Alliance Women’s Department (BWA WD), is set to retire effective December 31, 2015, after working in that position for 17 years.

“She has initiated many projects and the global Baptist Women’s Day of Prayer grew into a recognized ministry that connected Baptist women to each other both in prayer and practical support,” said Ksenija Magda, president of the BWA Women’s Department.

“She has been appreciated by many women on all continents and under her leadership, the Women’s Department became an example of an effective global ministry within the Baptist World Alliance.”

“God called me many years ago to work with women, and he has blessed me these 17 years to be a part of the BWA WD,” Davis stated.

“The Women’s Department of the BWA, and in particular the Executive Board of the WD, appreciate Patsy’s many years of faithful service to women globally,” Magda declared. The BWA Women’s president “wish[es] that God, our Lord and Father, may continue to bless her and her work in the future.”

Prior to taking up her position at the BWA in 1998, Davis was a Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionary for 21 years, serving as general secretary of the National Woman’s Missionary Union of Venezuela. She succeeded the late Willene Pierce, who died in March 2014, and who resigned the BWA post in July 1997.

Baptist World Alliance®
© October 30, 2015