January 29, 2009

The Challenges of Ministering to Baptist Youth in the Asia Pacific

By Jesse Ray Porras

The Asia Pacific Baptist Youth Fellowship (APBYF) is a loose organization of Baptist youth in various churches and groups under the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation. Once every four or five years, we come together for a gathering called the APBY Conference. Our aim is to promote fellowship, be inspired and instructed on issues relevant to us, and be challenged to respond to the various needs of young people in our region.

This coming December 27-30, 2009, we will again converge for the 15th APBY Conference. The Baptist Convention of Hong Kong has accepted the challenge to be our host and the theme we have chosen is “Soar Higher!” based on Isa. 40:30-31. Many of us in the executive committee feel that this conference will help us gain new inspiration and strength to face the various challenges that we encounter in our region.The Asia Pacific Region includes more than sixty-five percent, or two thirds, of the world’s population. Thus, our cultures are as varied as the geographical features of the Himalayas, the sand dunes of Mongolia, the reefs and atolls of the South Pacific isles, and the deserts of Australia. In addition to the global economic crisis and fluctuating currency exchange rates, we are also concerned about issues closer to home such as: alcohol and substance abuse, child labor, HIV, trafficking of women and children, civilian conflict, extreme poverty and hunger due to recurring natural calamities (earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis), and coup d' tats and other forms of social unrest.

Just how do Christian young people and youth ministers live in the midst these situations? Due to the vastness of our needs and the limits of our resources, we do best when we start with the needs in our immediate community, while at the same time praying for our fellow young people to “catch the vision” and do something in their own situation. As the saying goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” By tending to street children or orphans in our own neighborhoods, we can make our region and the world a better place in which to live in… feeding one hungry mouth, setting one captive free, healing one ailing body, one simple life at a time.

This is going to be a long and tiring journey. The only way we can cope is by holding on to God’s promises in Isaiah 40:30-31. Together, may we “Soar Higher” in serving Him!

**Jesse Ray Porras is the Vice President of the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation Youth Department.

January 28, 2009

Emerging Leader Profile – Euticauls Nzengu

Euticauls Nzengu is a Baptist pastor from Kenya who currently oversees the 70 Baptist congregations in Nairobi. Euticauls has been a member of the Emerging Leaders Network since 2007.

Q: What is your current ministry and what does it entail?

Euticauls: I am currently a pastor of a young and a growing church in Kenya called Baptist Chapel. I also direct a ministry in the slum areas of Korogocho where we minister to destitute children by providing them with formal education, vocational training, food, and by sharing the gospel of Christ with them. Korogocho Slum has an area of about 2 square miles with a population of 500,000 who live in shanties. My responsibility primarily involves counseling. This church ministry does not have a donor and so part of my job is to share with people about the ministry and to encourage them to support our ministry in the slum area.

I am also the overseer of more than 70 Baptist churches in the city of Nairobi. My role with the executive office is to share our vision with the churches, encourage them to be involved in evangelism and church planting, and help coordinate and oversee these endeavors. As a pastor, our church is involved in church planting and since 2005 we have already planted three mission churches and expect to plant a fourth this coming year.

Q: What are some of the unique challenges and/or opportunities that you face in your convention or context?

Euticauls: The challenges are many and include the lack of funds to support the ministry in the slums, people coming to you for answers and solutions, many needs that overwhelm, and insecurity. Within the Baptist association that I lead challenges include a shallow vision among some individuals, no passion for the lost, churches that are not stable and not growing, lack of commitment, and issues of autonomy. For the church, there is a lack of employment for many of my members, youth drop out from school due to lack of fees, church members sometimes conform more to the world than to Christ, low commitment level, a failure of some to see the Kingdom of God at work, and the acknowledgment that only a few are able to see beyond our church and see the world from Jesus’ perspective. In addition, our Baptist family is hurting as our local convention had some issues and broke into two.

Q: What does being an emerging Baptist mean to you?

Euticauls: It means being a Baptist who is prepared to serve the Lord and others in any part of the globe. It also means that while I have already been recognized in my own association and convention, there is a need for further training and equipping to continue the ministry more effectively.

Pictures from Euticauls' ministry in the Korogocho Slums have been posted on the BWA Emerging Leaders Facebook page. Use the link on the right to visit and join our new facebook group.

January 27, 2009

New Facebook Group

The Emerging Leaders Blog has launched a new Group on Facebook. Connect with us under group name "BWA Emerging Leaders Network or at: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=48560577422

The BWA ELN Facebook Group is a great place for you to post pictures or videos from your church or convention, share about your ministry and context, ask for prayer support, and connect with other emerging Baptists from around the world.

Our vision: to help spark a movement among Baptists in their 20s, 30s and 40s that will have a global impact as we connect, share, and minister together in a radical discipleship of Jesus Christ that pursues love, church growth and justice in our societies.

Our goal: to get at least 100 members of this global emerging Baptist movement connected to each other in the next 3 weeks.

Will you help spread the movement?

Emerging Leaders Reach New Milestone

This week the Emerging Leaders Blog surpasses a new milestone: visits from more than 55 countries.

Countries include: 16 from Africa, 9 from Asia-Pacific, 1 from the Caribbean, 3 from the Middle East, 19 from Europe, 3 from North America, and 6 from South America.

With 280 unique visitors accessing the site in the past six weeks, the base of the Emerging Leaders Movement remains small but growing. The aim of this site is to help emerging Baptists connect with each other, discuss relevant issues, collaborate in ministry and work together to shape a Baptist movement of global impact, radical discipleship and transformative love.

Would you become a stake holder in the movement? Join as a member of the movement (top right column). Post a comment. Sign-up for RSS feeds. Share the site with friends and colleagues. Would you help us reach a goal of 500 unique visitors by the end of February?

We are well on the way, but it can only happen if we work together to build an emerging global network.

January 26, 2009

[in-teg-ri-ty]

By Elijah Brown

Integrity is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “1. Firm adherence to a code especially moral or artistic values; 2. An unimpaired condition; 3. The quality or state of being complete or undivided.” Integrity is: Incorruptible. Unimpaired. Undivided.

Leadership expert John Maxwell defines integrity as the most important ingredient of leadership and writes, “A person with integrity does not have divided loyalties (that’s duplicity), nor is he or she merely pretending (that’s hypocrisy). People with integrity are ‘whole’ people; they can be identified by their single-mindedness. People with integrity have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. Their lives are open books.”

In a world full of shifting morality, shaky business standards of short-term gain and overheated claims of hype, do you feel the contamination of standards of this world? I need to personally confess; far too often I utilize these standards as the judge of success and validation. I am not all that I appear to be. Image is not everything.

My heart cries out for a radical discipleship of radical honesty – pure, complete and unwavering. My heart cries out for a return of integrity in our government interaction, our business practices, and our churches and denominations. Integrity that is honest enough to admit our own limitations, bold enough to recognize our need for each other, strong enough to accept diversity, loving enough to brace each other, and courageous enough to forge Godly character in the fire of everyday otherwise unobserved decisions.

Psalms tells us that God choose and favored David because whether as a shepherd in the field or as a ruler in the head office, “David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” (Ps. 78:72)

Whatever our role, whatever our ministry, whatever our organization, it will all rise and fall on the basis of our integrity. And the good news is that integrity can be built. It takes time. It takes consistency. It means being faithful in the small choices. But if as emerging leaders we invest in integrity in our individual lives and in our corporate structures, we will reap a harvest of global impact.

True leadership and influence rises in direct proportion to integrity. Grow your integrity and God will grow your influence. Integrity builds individuals of great character who cast a great shadow. Integrity is corporate communities that build authenticity and global impact. Integrity is the key to leadership. To end with one more quote from Maxwell:

“Though you cannot go back
and make a brand new start, my friend.
Anyone can start from now
and make a brand new end.”

** Maxwell quotes come from John C. Maxwell, “The Most Important Ingredient of Leadership: Integrity,” in Developing the Leader Within You, 35-47. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993.

January 23, 2009

Emerging Leader Profile - Nick Lear

By Nick Lear

Being part of the global Baptist family, the BWA, has expanded my vision of what it means to be a Christian believer. I am currently the senior pastor of a local Baptist church, having previously worked in the Mission Department in the national office of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. I know how easily I slip into a solely local focus in my ministry, theology and mission outlook because so much of my time and energy is focused on the local church.

Being part of the BWA family means that there is always a reminder that I am part of something bigger. I have experienced that not everyone worships God the same way that I do and I hope that awareness reflects in a more diverse worship style. I know that my interpretation of Scripture is done through my own cultural lenses, and to be true to God’s Word I need to reflect more on how that Word applies to other cultures.

I often reflect that when our church gathers to worship, Baptist churches in time zones to the East will already have met and those to our West are yet to meet – God’s praises are sung all around his world in diverse ways that can only broaden our experience of him. May God continue to enlarge my vision!

**Nick Lear is the Senior Minister of Colchester Baptist Church in Colchester, UK and until recently, was the BWA Youth Department European Baptist Fellowship Vice President. This post is the first in a new series that seeks to highlight the ministry and leadership of those who embody what it means to be an emerging Baptist leader. Profiles will come from around the world so feel free to nominate someone whom you feel represents what it means to be an emerging Baptist leader.

January 22, 2009

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

The third Monday of January, each year since 1986, has marked in the United States a special day of commemoration on behalf of the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is one of only three federal holidays in the United States that honors an individual person. Dr. King is worthy of such recognition.

Born into a context of racism and extreme marginalization Dr. King helped pioneer a movement for justice and equality that sought freedom from historical, cultural, political and legal frameworks of sin that ensnared both the oppressed and the oppressor alike. Based on principles of non-violence and civil disobedience, Dr. King helped inspire a nation to be better than it was and mobilized a movement that refused to accept defeat. Almost 41 years since the day he was assassinated, in the United States there could be perhaps no greater tribute than this week to also celebrate the election of President Barak Obama.

In a world still all too steeped in the legacies of racism and the politics of ethnic division, both in the United States and in the greater world at large, the vision and challenge of Dr. King should continue to weigh heavy upon us. To quote Rev. William Shaw of the National Baptist Convention, from a sermon he delivered in January 2008 at the Celebration of a Baptist New Covenant, ‘Jesus’ ministry was not the work of relief but reversal.’

Our world does not need any more relief; what it needs is reversal. Reversal from the cycles of violence that grip us, reversal of the ethnic legacies of racism that divide us, reversal from the sin of bigotry that blinds us, and reversal of the politics of discrimination that surround us. To take it one step further: what this world truly needs is not just reversal, but release. The kind of release that can only come when we begin to prioritize the laying down of our lives for others, the daily gift of costly obedience, and living out the transformative love of Jesus Christ.

Justice, equality and reconciliation between brothers and sisters continues on the long march to freedom. Each one of us has a role to play. As emerging Baptists who are especially indebted to this particular Baptist heritage, let us not grow weary in this long struggle, and may we find the courage to shake the very foundations of this world and advance this great cause. Only one question remains: does your life honor the King?

January 21, 2009

Leadership Interview - David Coffey

Dr. David Coffey is the President of the Baptist World Alliance and the former General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. It was the vision of President Coffey that first launched the BWA Emerging Leaders Network in Ghana 2007. President Coffey, thank you for a vibrant and global ministry that has impacted many.

Q: Can you give a brief overview of some of the most recent developments, challenges and/or opportunities that have faced the BWA?

President Coffey: We face the challenge of developing a meaningful ownership of the recently agreed BWA five clusters of commitment throughout the BWA membership:

1. To join together in worship and fellowship
2. To nurture mission and evangelism
3. To defend religious liberty and human rights
4. To respond to human need through relief and sustainable development
5. To promote relevant theological reflection

Like all Christian organizations are suffering from the global financial crisis and we need to find imaginative ways of fulfilling our goals with fewer resources.

Q: What are some of the key ways that the BWA, and the regional member bodies, will need to adapt in our contemporary context?

President Coffey: First the Church needs to be wary of moving pragmatically in its mission. I admire the entrepreneurial spirit of Baptists around the world, but pragmatic endeavor must never become the foundation stones of our mission. We need to recover some key biblical and theological principles regarding God’s Revelation in Christ, the purpose of the Church, Christian discipleship and the dynamic relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Mission of the Church.

In a phrase-the key question is not what shape should the church be? Rather we should be asking what kind of disciples Jesus is calling us to be.

Q: As Baptists celebrate 2009 as the 400th Anniversary of the first Baptist congregation, what is one historical lesson that needs to be particularly remembered?

President Coffey: One of the books that will be published in 2009 in connection with our 400th anniversary celebrations is titled “Communities of Conviction.” We need to recover the concept of convictional churches comprised of believers who are committed to being Christian disciples willing to sacrifice everything for Jesus Christ in the face of a hostile world. Courage and conviction was the mark of the early Baptists and it is the one lesson I hope we will discover during Amsterdam 400.

Q: What will it mean to be a Baptist leader in the 21st Century and what are some of the necessary skills, opportunities and challenges that will be required of emerging leaders?

President Coffey: The BWA Emerging Leaders Network has heard my ten commandments for leaders, but let me repeat them again!

1. Be secure in your identity in Jesus Christ
2. Be convinced of your clear call from God
3. Be strong in your self awareness
4. Be sure to have accountability structures
5. Be aware of how to live with the mystery of suffering
6. Be committed to building a diverse church
7. Be a leader with a missionary heart
8. Be aware of the need to love people and use things and never reverse the order.
9. Be a risk taker with Jesus!
10. Be knowledgeable about the antidote to losing heart in God’s service

January 19, 2009

BMS World Mission Appoints New General Director

Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Baptist World Alliance


January 16, 2009

David Kerrigan, a member of the BWA Commission on Doctrine and Interchurch Cooperation, has been appointed General Director of BMS World Mission, the major mission arm of Baptists in Britain.

Kerrigan succeeds Alistair Brown, a member of the BWA General Council and Executive Committee, who is now president of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States...

“David brings to the role an extensive knowledge of the workings of BMS, allied to his significant experience of serving overseas,” said Jeff Taylor, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of BMS World Mission. Kerrigan served as a missionary in Bangladesh between 1984 and 1988, and later became Regional Secretary for Asia for BMS, based in Sri Lanka , from 1995 to 1998.

At the time of his appointment as General Director, Kerrigan was Director for Mission and Deputy General Director for BMS.

For the full release: http://www.bwanet.org/default.aspx?pid=996

January 15, 2009

What is required of you?

By Denise de Vasconcelos Araujo

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

I've been thinking a lot about what other people require of me. It's amazing how when we are not feeling good about ourselves or when we are having a bad week, everything people say becomes huge in our heads. I started noticing that in my own life. When I wasn't feeling well, my self-esteem was low, people's words had a greater effect on me. Even the words of people I knew weren't trustworthy become important to me and consequently a burden.

Their words or expectations become a burden, because we have the temptation to live by them and to plan our lives around what they say we should do, how we should act, respond… You start planning your life around requirements… people's requirements about you.

These can be the people you most love – your family, spouse, pastor, leader, coordinator. And of course, you want to please them, you need them! This is a personal dilemma. I don't know how many of you face it, but I do! And in moments like those – which basically means our entire lives - we need to pay attention to the way we respond to these requirements.

We need to evaluate why these requirements may affect us so much. Am I paying too much attention to what other people say? Am I just trying to please people to win their affection or trust? Am I spending more time trying to know how I can please people than actually knowing what I have to do?

This has to do with identity - who God created us to be and who we are in Christ. We need to be constantly reminded of that. When we’re not paying attention to this we lose track of what is important.

In Micah 6:8 we see what God requires from us: act justly, love mercy and walk humbly before Him. Sounds simple, doesn't it? The truth of the matter is that it takes a lot of work, because we need to change the way we think. We waste time on evangelical obligations, ecclesiastic duties, gossip, and discussions. But these verses show the only thing He requires from us, that which should be our only obsession, and what keeps us from sleeping at night.

We waste so much time feeling inadequate, planning a gazillion things, pleasing people, worried about what other people will say, doing 453 programs with our congregation a year, for what?? He is the only One allowed to make requirements and His are:

ACT JUSTLY, LOVE MERCY, WALK HUMBLY BEFORE ME

I know other people can require things from us, but we need to fulfill His requirements first. The ones that are made by others can be dealt with when we finish dealing with what God requires, and as we know, that will already take up much of our time.

Stay strong!

**Denise is the President of the BWA Youth Department and on staff at a Brazilian Baptist mission organization.

January 14, 2009

What Does Being an Emerging Baptist Leader Mean to You?

By Koffi Soke Kpomgbe, Togo

It is a grace, privilege and responsibility to be a Baptist emerging leader at a time when, to quote Brickson Sam from Sierra Leone, there is a “galaxy of the heavy weights.”

Nothing but God’s grace has made it possible for me be part of this wonderful group where I believe I have felt more true Christian love than is sometimes obvious in my own home context of local churches. I have been challenged by what we call in the German literature, “Die Interkulturalit├Ąt”, that is, different cultural realities but one people in Him. As I remind the emerging leaders in Togo, through fellowship we are united as Americans, Africans, Asians, and Europeans.

The humility and simplicity I noticed in our BWA coordinators and in most of the ELN members was a great lesson. I spent most of the BWA Accra meeting observing, but when I departed from the BWA Prague meeting this summer, I knew I had another family. It is more than a compulsory lesson for me to dive deeper into my commitment to the ministry; I am privileged to do so in Togo and Africa, and I have global a family I need to pray for.

We are the Emerging Leaders Family of the BWA.

God bless the ELN.

What does being an emerging Baptist leader mean to you?

January 13, 2009

Leadership Interview - Emmett Dunn

This is the first in a new series of Leadership Interviews. Emmett Dunn is the Director of the BWA Youth Department as well as the Director of all BWA Major Meetings. Emmett, thank you for your global ministry and ongoing concern for emerging Baptist leaders.

Q: Can you give us a brief overview of some of the most recent developments, challenges and/or opportunities that have faced the BWA Youth Department?

Emmett Dunn: The key challenge facing the Youth Department is balancing the different understandings of “who is a youth/young person?” The BWA seeks to serve people between the ages of 13-35 however; each region that makes up the BWA has a different, yet unique, understanding of who is a youth/young person. This gap creates major challenges as it is almost impossible to design international programs that meet the needs of this group. It is certainly not a “one size fits all” approach but one that seeks to fully understand the different group dynamics, taking into consideration the different contexts in which these groups do ministry to include, cultural, political and socio-economic.

Q: What will it mean to be a Baptist leader in the 21st Century and what are some of the necessary skills, opportunities and challenges that will be required of emerging leaders?

Emmett Dunn: Depending on where you are in the world, the word Baptist may mean something different. While the fundamental doctrines seem to be the same on the one hand, on the other, there are diverse views on the issue of worship, women in ministry, authority of Scripture to name a few. Knowing who we are as Baptists will be very important if one must be a leader. In order to be an effective leader one must be able to articulate what is it that we believe and why. The younger generation is not really interested in being aligned with a particular denomination just because their parents where associated with it but in their search, they are looking for value, honesty and acceptability. This will require the leader to be contemporary in style and thinking but never giving in to the temptation of compromising the truth of the gospel.

Q: What one piece of advice, note of encouragement or word of caution would you most like to share with emerging Baptists?

Emmett Dunn: Leadership is difficult but commitment to task and love for the people you are called to lead makes it easier. As an emerging leader, you must first count the cost of leadership and be assured that it is God who has called you to the ministry of service. It is not always a pleasant experience especially when others are critical of you but patience and understanding of people and task will enable you to be the best you can be. Learning from those who have walked the path ahead of you will help you avoid unnecessary mistakes. Always remember to listen well enough to hear and understand what is being said and rely on God for guidance and direction.

Thank you Emmett.

**Check back every Tuesday for a new leadership interview or nominate someone whom you believe best exemplifies contemporary Baptist leadership.

January 12, 2009

An Emerging Movement

In the most recent edition of Foreign Affairs, Anne-Marie Slaughter writes: “Hierarchy and control lose out to community, collaboration, and self-organization. At its core, a company can be quite small, often no more than a central node of leaders and manager-integrators. But with the right networks, it can reach anywhere innovators, factories, and service providers can be found. In this world, as Tapscott and Williams write, ‘only the connected will survive.’” (http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20090101faessay88107/anne-marie-slaughter/america-s-edge.html)

What if in 2009, a ragtag group of Baptists from around the world who as 20s, 30s and 40 somethings decided to start a movement? A movement of radical discipleship. To feed the hungry. To care for the sick. To be accountable to widows and orphans. To stand with the oppressed. To build the church. To live without fear. To love without borders.

A movement that was not based on hierarchy or control but on community, collaboration and self-organization so that each one of us fully lived our lives in service to Christ and to each other.
In this kind of a movement – and in reality, in the world as we find it today – “only the connected will survive.” So what would happen if we started an emerging movement of global Baptists who were connected to one another? If as we shared what God was doing in our own corner of the world, we began to see that taken collectively we already form a powerful patchwork of kingdom growth that can learn from each other, share in the needs of each other and work together in coordinated unison to advance the kingdom of the Son.

This blog is by no means the culmination of such a vision. But it is one more tool, one more point of connectivity. At the top right hand of this blog, for example, you can click to join as a “Member of the Movement.” And as more of us join this movement, we will be able to connect more deeply and minister more powerfully.

As part of this new movement endeavor, starting this week this site is also going to post regular interviews with current Baptist leaders, profile the stories of other emerging leaders and share emerging insights from around the world. This week is a new beginning, a new opportunity to build together an emerging Baptist movement.

At its core it only takes a small group. It is always so. The question however remains:

Have you joined the emerging Baptist movement?

January 9, 2009

What Does Being an Emerging Baptist Leader Mean to You?

By Edward Enim

It means on one hand my being a worthy vessel to be used in Kingdom work. On the other hand it means a greater challenge to explore greater heights in leadership. It is more than a privilege, it is a challenge for greater ministry.

What does it mean to you?

January 8, 2009

Coming Next Week.....

The Blog will be going through some slight revisions over the next few days. Please be sure to check back on Monday to see a slightly altered framework and a brand new series of posts.

In the meantime would you join as a "Member of the ELN Movement"? Just click in the top right hand corner to become a charter member of a global movement of Emerging Baptists.

BWA Responds to Crisis in Gaza

Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Baptist World Alliance


January 8, 2009

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA), through its relief and development arm, Baptist World Aid (BWAid), is assisting persons suffering from the crisis in Gaza.

A BWAid Rescue24 team, operated by Hungarian Baptist Aid (HBAid), has been in Cairo, Egypt, since December 31, 2008, providing medical treatment to persons who have fled from Gaza. BWAid made an initial grant of US $10,000 toward the medical relief effort.

The Rescue24 team will be relocating to the Egyptian city of El Arish, which is closer to Gaza, about 40 kilometers from the border, to continue the medical work.

HBAid is also planning other relief projects, including a psychosocial program for children in the heavily bombed city of Sderot in southern Israel...

Gaza Baptist Church (GBC), the lone Baptist church in Palestine, was severely damaged by the fighting. According to media reports, the windows of the church were blown out when an Israeli air strike hit a police station located across the street.

For the full release: http://www.bwanet.org/default.aspx?pid=988

January 7, 2009

Baptism Center in Jordan to Open in March

Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Baptist World Alliance

January 6, 2009

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) will lead a service of dedication for the new Baptism Center in Jordan at its official opening on March 20, 2009...

“The opening of the Baptism Center is an answer to our prayers and we express again our deep gratitude to King Abdullah for the gift of the Center as a place of Christian worship and pilgrimage,” said BWA President David Coffey . “I hope that many Baptists and other Evangelical Christians will visit the site as pilgrims and some will choose to confess their faith in Jesus Christ in the waters of baptism.”

Coffey and BWA General Secretary Neville Callam will lead the dedication service along with representatives of the Baptist community in the Middle East and other dignitaries. During the dedication, a plaque will be unveiled at the entrance of the Center bearing the inscription, “The Commission of the Site of the Baptism of Jesus Christ welcomes here in particular foreign visiting pilgrims from the member churches of the Baptist World Alliance.”

For the full release: http://www.bwanet.org/default.aspx?pid=981

January 6, 2009

What Does Being an Emerging Batist Leader Mean to You?

By Melody Maxwell

Being an emerging Baptist leader means being equipped with first-hand knowledge of the global Baptist community—and entrusted with the responsibility to share what I’m learning with others.

What does it mean to you?

January 5, 2009

BWA President David Coffey Honored

BWA President David Coffey was recently named as the 2008 Baptist of the Year by EthicsDaily.com. Coffey was selected for his "tireless initiatives and frequent conversations" in which he has "pushed for constructive engagement between Baptists and Muslims, sought to advance religious liberty in predominantly Muslim countries and spoken up in Israel for Palestinian pastors." Coffey "has kept the eye of global Baptists on the Middle East and the role of people of faith as peacemakers." (copyright is EthicsDaily.com)

Congratulations President Coffey.

For the full release: http://www.ethicsdaily.com/article_detail.cfm?AID=11512

BWA Responds to Letter from Muslim Leaders

Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Baptist World Alliance


January 5, 2009

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) has issued a formal response to “A Common Word Between Us and You,” a letter written by 138 Muslim leaders and scholars that appealed for Christians and Muslims to cooperate in engendering peace and religious freedom.

In preparation of the formal response, BWA General Secretary Neville Callam sought comments from Baptist scholars and leaders, including those living in countries with a Muslim majority, regarding how the BWA might respond to the letter.

The comments received were made available to Paul Fiddes of England , Chair of the BWA Commission on Doctrine and Interchurch Cooperation, and Regina Claas of Germany, Chair of the BWA Commission on Freedom and Justice, who were invited to lead a forum at the BWA Annual Gathering in Prague , Czech Republic , in July 2008. At the forum, participants considered the issues raised by the Muslim letter and made contributions to the BWA formal response.

Armed with the insights gained from the solicited comments and the forum, Fiddes, Claas and a team of Baptist scholars and leaders crafted what eventually became the formal BWA response.

The formal response can be found at: http://www.bwanet.org/default.aspx?pid=979

January 3, 2009

Remembering This Day in History: The First Universal Christian Persecution

Ascending to power at a time of great political uncertainty, military crisis and economic turmoil, Decius sought political answers and a renewed unity for the Roman Empire in a pogrom of forced religious conversion and submission. Appeals for a recommitted practice of ‘traditional’ religion, transitioned into outright persecution as political expediency caved into religious zealotry.

On January 3, 250, Decius “published an imperial edict commanding all citizens of the empire to sacrifice to the Roman gods. Those who did so were given certificates as evidence of their compliance while those who refused were imprisoned or executed. Decius’s edict initiated the first universal Roman persecution of the Christian church. Untold numbers of believers suffered the loss of family, freedom, and life itself.”

Today, 1700 years later, we remember those first Christians who courageously stood for the name of Christ against tyranny. We confess that our contemporary context – political, military and economic instability – is all too often similar to the environment that sparked this first universal persecution, and that there are today millions of Christians who continue to live in situations of injustice and religious oppression. We cry out in a humble resolve that refuses to be silent, pray with intention, work in cooperation, and advocate with passion and discernment until we can stand with one another in freedom.

(See E. Michael and Sharon Rusten, The One Year of Book of Christian History. Wheaten: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003, 6.)