Kory Lewis

We mourn the passing of Kory Lewis who was welcomed to glory on October 16, 2012.  Kory was a long-time member of Emmanuel Baptist in Victoria, BC.

Kory was born in 1921 and grew up in Chilliwack, which was then a small town, a location that gave Kory many advantages that shaped her character.

“Our parents knew the parents of many of our friends, and grownups would often speak to us when they saw us on the street. But the greatest advantage was having Christian parents, whom I know provided us an example at home and in the community through work in service organizations as well as our church, First Baptist.”

Her dedication to service began early when she started singing in the church choir at age 7.  Throughout her life she continued to love music, becoming a skilled pianist who accompanied choirs and other musicians.  Later as a teacher, she trained many school choirs to compete in festivals in Victoria, the Fraser Valley and the Okanagan region.

Kory worked as a teacher in Chilliwack, Penticton and Victoria until retiring in 1978 to take care of her mother.  She also worked as a Career Education consultant to the Ministry of Education.  She was active on many BC Teachers’ Federation committees, wrote curriculum for a Career Education course and was honoured to become a life member of the BCTF in 1977.  While a teacher, she was very active supporting Inter-School Christian Fellowship groups to support them in their faith journeys.

Despite a long and busy career, she had time for an exhausting array of activities that show little sign of letting up at age 90.

Kory’s character wass one of “steadfast determination,” says Ingrid White, Emmanuel Baptist’s Associate Pastor. “When she sets her mind to something she makes sure it happens. It has held her in good stead over the years.”

Kory has a lifelong commitment to camping and youth ministries, having directed various age levels at Keats Camps as well as Camp Sorec near Summerland.  For years, she served on the Sylvan Acres Camp Committee.  She has also been a long-time volunteer with Youth for Christ, travelling to international conferences and organizing monthly Youth For Christ rallies in Chilliwack, featuring speakers such as Billy Graham and Bob Pearce, in the 1940’s.

She has served for years on Church Boards (9 years at Emmanuel Baptist alone), teaching Sunday school and serving on missions committees, as well as being very active in hosting visiting missionaries, and organizing mission events.  She has long been involved in caring ministries, serving as a reception coordinator for funerals and services, being the photographer at church events and providing cards and gifts of encouragement to pastors and others in the church family.

At the denominational level, she served as the moderator of the Vancouver Island Association of Baptist Churches and also served as a member of the board of Carey Theological College. She was responsible for the decision to change Carey’s dorms to include women.

“One of her ministries that really stands out, is that she has shown particular care for Baptist pastors,” says Ingrid, explaining that Kory was instrumental in reviving regular meetings of the BUMS – Baptist Union Ministers, 14 years ago.  Kory has facilitated and paid for a quarterly luncheon for active and retired pastors and spouses. Ingrid said, “The lunches have been a particular blessing to several churches because they have drawn our pastors together to help facilitate interaction and encouragement among pastors.  Kory didn’t want the churches to become independent of each other.”

Her lifelong spirit of service has not been limited to specifically Christian endeavours.  In the community, she has served on the Saanich Police Board, as president of the Greater Victoria Teacher’s Association, and as a member of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

Kory is but one example of the many seniors whose faithful lives of dedicated service are an example and inspiration to us all.  We are indeed grateful for the gift Kory has been, and continues to be, among us.  We give thanks also for her lifelong desire to serve God by serving others.
The Celebration of Kory’s Life will be Friday, November 2, 1:30 pm at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Victoria with a reception to follow.

Roots of Religious Liberty

Message from the Baptist World Alliance, July 26, 2012

According to Glen Stassen, Richard Overton, whom he described as an “Anabaptist Baptist,” was the first person writing in the English language to have advocated for religious liberty.

Stassen, a professor of Christian ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary in the state of California in the United States, was giving a prepared response to a paper on Thomas Helwys presented by European Baptist Federation General Secretary Tony Peck, during the recent Baptist World Alliance® Annual Gathering in Santiago, Chile.

Helwys and John Smyth are commonly regarded as pioneers of the Baptist movement and Helwys, in particular, is believed to have influenced the historical Baptist stance in support of religious liberty. In 1612, Helwys published A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity in which, Peck asserted, “Helwys made… the first plea for universal religious freedom in the English language, and since then religious freedom for all, not just themselves, has been a core conviction of Baptists in every part of the world.”

But Stassen claimed that “Richard Overton was a member of the group of the very first Baptists” and “wrote out his confession of faith, with themes that later led him to become the father of human rights.” It is believed that Overton, who was part of the fledgling Baptist movement in Amsterdam, Netherlands, founded in 1609, had written his declarations before Helwys returned to England where he released A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity.

Stassen told Baptist leaders and theologians at the gathering that, decades later, “during the Puritan Revolution in England, Richard Overton was the best writer of the Leveller Movement, championing the human right to religious liberty.”

Overton was jailed for printing books not approved by the government, and his wife and infant child were also jailed when she continued to print his works during his imprisonment. Stassen declared that Overton published a “comprehensive doctrine of human rights” that “remarkably still fits what most church denominations have said when they have affirmed human rights.” These include the right to religious liberty and civil liberty; the right to life, including basic needs of life; and the right to dignity in community, with rights of participation for all in a church of their choice.

Stassen bemoaned that many thinkers believed that the notion of human rights came out of the secular French Enlightenment in the 18th century, what he calls the “fallacy of confusing the source of human rights.” Human rights, he claimed, was “the product of Baptists in the 17th century.”

Because Overton grounded his stance on human rights in Christian scripture and in the work and person of Jesus Christ, the root of human rights are religious rather than secular, Stassen asserted.

Stassen, who is also a research professor at the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Prague, Czech Republic, said “the justice that God cares about deeply, and that many of us care about deeply in our own contexts, requires developing congregations that care about and serve people who need justice and human rights and it requires governments that support human rights for all people.”

Baptist World Alliance Will Meet in Chile

Baptists from across the world are preparing to attend the Baptist World Alliance® (BWA) Annual Gathering in Santiago, Chile, from July 2-7. The CBWC is a member of the BWA.

The gathering includes times for worship, fellowship, theological reflection, and decision making.

The two governing bodies, the General Council and the Executive Committee, will receive reports and consider recommendations and resolutions, including on membership within the organization, program activities, and preparations for the Baptist Youth World Conference to be held in Singapore in July 2013 and the Baptist World Congress in Durban, South Africa, in 2015.

There will be two forums. The first will be on Technology and Ministry and will explore the role of technology in worship, fellowship, and social ministry such as the use and role of the Internet, mobile technologies, and social media.

A second forum will focus on response to disasters and will draw on the experience of Chileans in the aftermath of the deadly 8.8 earthquake and tsunami that affected the South American country on February 27, 2010.

The Denominational Leaders Network will convene along with other affinity groups. Affinity groups are a gathering of persons sharing similar vocations or engaging in similar ministry endeavors. These include Baptists in higher education, pastors, as well as missioners and mission leaders.

Persons from the six regions of the BWA – Africa, Asia Pacific, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and North America – will also come together for times of fellowship, sharing and planning.

Theological papers and discourses will form the bulk of the activities of the commissions of the BWA. Topics to be discussed include The History of Baptists in Chile, Evangelical Hymnody in Latin America, and Mapping a 21st Century Global Baptist Identity. There will also be a discussion titled Issues in Theological Education Around the World, and consideration of The Nature and Mission of the Church, a document produced by the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches.

BWA General Secretary Neville Callam has praised Chilean Baptist leaders for “the cooperation they have given in the preparations for the Gathering.” He anticipates that “it will be a memorable encounter of world Baptists with Latin American Baptist spirituality.”

More than 260 Baptist leaders and delegates from some 40 countries have registered for the Annual Gathering, which also includes times of worship and fellowship with Baptists in Chile.