The Baptist World Alliance is a family of churches and denominations that was founded in 1905 in England. It represents 214 denominations and associations, over 37 million members and 105 million believers. We have very able and strong leadership from our CBM General Secretary, Gary Nelson who has just completed his term as a vice president and from Harry Gardner, the former executive minister of the Atlantic Baptists. Western Canada has been represented well by three former CBM Presidents who later became BWA vice presents; Roy Bell, Shirley Bentall and Bruce Milne.
As you know from previous Newsletters the BWA met in Amsterdam this summer to celebrate 400 years of Baptist witness beginning with British religious refugees meeting in Holland to experience their faith in Christ.
These events will be marked in the next two newsletters. They are divided into two themes. Commentary and visionary reporting from three perspectives: David Coffey (British) President of the BWA 2005-2010; Neville Callum (Jamaican) General Secretary BWA; and Gary Nelson, our own CBM General Secretary.
The next section which is for the week following Thanksgiving is a series of services that we experienced in Holland; first, a sampling of the daily worship times amongst delegates and secondly, the 400th Anniversary Service in a Mennonite Church in Amsterdam.
Permission to publish these reports has been given to us by the BWA. These are part of the documents distributed at the Annual Gathering in Ede, Netherlands, July 27-August 1, 2009
President David Coffey’s Report
General Council of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA)
Ede, Netherlands, 26 July – 1 August 2009
During this year’s BWA Gathering we will celebrate in a variety of ways the courage and vision of our forbears and exploring the lasting significance of their achievements. In preparation for our meetings in Amsterdam and Ede, I have looked again at our ancient story and suggest some abiding lessons from the historic events of 1609.
1. God uses a breadth of networks to launch a movement. John Smyth and Thomas Helwys were shaped by the reforming zeal of the Puritans and Separatists of England and influenced by the formative ideas of the Anabaptist, Mennonite and Arminian movements of mainland Europe. The first lesson is to meet with a broad range of people in whom God is working and to listen to the prophetic voices through whom God is speaking. We need to be alert to the imperilled weakness of the attitude “you in your small corner and me in mine.” The greatest strength of the Christian family is the bringing together of breadth and diversity. Those who are constantly narrowing down the boundaries in the interest of maintaining the purity of the Church fail to see the losses which are incurred by this closing of the doors to wider fellowship.
2. God blesses “communities of conviction.” I borrow this phrase from the title of the newly published book by Ian Randall. Read his Communities of Conviction and you will be inspired by the recounting of the earliest beginnings of the Baptist movement in all parts of Europe. The community that met in Bakkerstraat, Amsterdam, was turning its back on the formalities of state religion and seeking to restore the pattern of the believers’ church of the New Testament. What they dared to attempt was outstanding in its spiritual boldness. The contemporary challenges for Baptists in their church state relationships call for similar courageous daring. In a climate where Baptists are intoxicated by pragmatic “how to” church programmes, the restoration of communities of conviction with meaningful covenant membership and healthy accountable relationships are essential values to a recovery of true Baptist identity.
3. God works in spite of our failures. The early pages of Baptist history are a mixed story which, according to Barry White, show something of how past polices and insights were often shaped “by accident, ignorance and sometimes selfishness as well as by prudence, wisdom and costly sacrifice.” Like Paul and Barnabas, there came a sad parting of the ways for Smyth and Helwys prompting the latter to believe his friend had made wrong decisions and leaving him with a sense of personal betrayal. We need to walk humbly with God during a time of radical reform and hold lightly to our strongest convictions recognising that our best theological insights are only partial. The lubricating oil of sweet reasonableness is never more required than in a time of abrasive progress.
I am confident our celebrations in Amsterdam will not be an indulgence in nostalgia, but I am expecting moments when we can pause and wisely reflect on our Baptist beginnings. As C. S. Lewis reminds us, it is not the remembered past but the forgotten past that enslaves us.
The major global event since we met in Prague last summer is the worldwide credit crunch and the corresponding financial meltdown of the financial markets of the world with billions wiped off shares and thousands losing their jobs.
It has been sobering to visit different parts of the world and listen to the perspective of Baptists on how the global credit crunch is affecting their ministries. In the past twelve months we have witnessed a frightening deterioration in the leading western economies and even the burgeoning economy of China saw its exports register the biggest decline in a decade. We have encountered previously unthinkable figures like $700 billion rescue funds and the International Labour Organization reporting that as many as 51 million jobs worldwide could be lost in 2009 because of the global economic crisis.
The temptation in the current crisis is to succumb to a mood that the world of macro- economics is too complex to grasp and we ought to leave it to the experts. The problem is, some of the “experts” are culpable for the financial crisis and as Christians we should be calling for a closer relationship between morality and the free market. Many Christians support a free-market system (where goods and services are traded on an open market with little interference from central government) but the current crisis underlines the need for some major reforms.
Many Christian observers from a range of political backgrounds believe the current unfettered free market system is flawed because-
1. It is destroying planet earth
2. It is sustaining global poverty
3. It is undermining peoples’ lives by making them work too hard
4. It permits a tiny minority of wealthy individuals to control vast sums of capital
5. It is a profoundly unjust system where the poor are exploited
The Living Water Conference held in Cairns, Australia, in May 2009 brought together indigenous and non-indigenous people from Indonesia, Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Australia and New Zealand. At the conclusion of the conference, the delegates affirmed a magnificent statement on the mission of the churches which I hope will be widely circulated. Among the clauses of the Cairns statement was the following:
We affirm that Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom calls churches into domains they may previously not have entered, including the pursuit of justice for the poor and oppressed and care for creation. We are encouraged that some churches are making positive contributions in these areas but believe there is also a great need for more advocacy and much stronger biblical proclamation around both justice for the poor and oppressed and care for creation.
We need to support those Baptist voices who are calling for reform of the international trade rules. Stephen Rand has been in the frontline of campaigning for greater justice for the poor of the world. He finds it obscene that the system of free market capitalism is one where a child dies every three seconds and he wants the system changed.
He tells the story of people like Nandi. She is dying and her mother does not have the food to feed her. The farmer who used to employ her has gone out of business because cheap imports of grain from a wealthy first world country have undercut his prices and made it impossible for him to compete. Those imports were so competitively priced because international trade rules imposed on Nandi’s country prevented it from subsidizing local farmers while at the same time allowing wealthy first world countries to do just that.
The global credit crunch will have profound effects on members of the Baptist family in many parts of the developing world as the commitment of rich countries to meet their aid targets come under pressure because of a failing domestic economy. During my visit to Egypt in January, I made a visit to the Zabbaleen community, the garbage people of Cairo, who are employed to collect and dispose of much of the city’s waste. The Zabbaleen generally perform this service very cheaply or for free, making a living by sorting the waste materials for reuse or recycling. Their income is little more than $1 per day. Every year is a credit crunch for the Zabbaleen people and their plight reminds us of the millions of people who live in permanent poverty.
The BWA has addressed complex issues in recent years drawing on the expertise of gifted practitioners. This is the season when we need to bend our minds to consider what a global
“Kingdom Economics” might look like. The challenging task of debating the strengths and weaknesses of a capitalist system needs to be supported by some careful self examination of personal lifestyle.
Christian disciples should accept the fresh challenge of adopting a personal lifestyle of simplicity, contentment and generosity. Thirty years ago Dr. Ron Sider wrote his Lausanne paper on “Living more simply for Evangelism and Justice” where he outlined a number of important distinctions about personal lifestyle:
We accept the distinction between necessities and luxuries, creative hobbies and empty status symbols, modesty and vanity, occasional celebrations and normal routine; and between the service of God and slavery to fashion.
During the meetings of the General Council we will receive reports on the current state of the BWA finances. I commend our General Secretary and the staff for the careful stewardship they have brought to the challenging position the BWA has faced in the last twelve months. The BWA staff also deserves our appreciation for sharing personally in the sacrificial responsibility of being good stewards of our funds. The absence of the majority of the Falls Church staff from this Ede Gathering in order to save on expenditure is a clear sign of the serious challenges facing the BWA. The burden of releasing more funds to support the work of the Alliance is a responsibility in which all member bodies of the BWA must play their part.
I extend a word of appreciation to Paul Fiddes and Regina Claas and the General Secretary for sharing in the excellent work of drafting, refining and producing the BWA response to the Muslim letter, “A Common Word between Us and You.” In late 2007, the BWA sought written responses from Baptist theologians, pastors and leaders from the various regions. These responses to the Muslim letter were incorporated into a document which served as a source of discussion during the Annual Gathering in Prague last July. A draft response was produced and many of you sent in your comments and observations before the final edition was finished in November. The response is available from the BWA website and I encourage member bodies to publicize this important document among their membership.
A report on the Muslim letter conversations will be given in the General Secretary’s report and in the meetings of the Doctrine and Interchurch Commission which will recognise other important initiatives that have taken place in the past year, not least the first national Baptist-Muslim dialogue at Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts in the USA.
It was a privilege to be part of the Baptist delegation that held informal conversations in Amman, Jordan, with a representative group of Muslim scholars. The BWA response to “A Common Word” has been widely praised for its theological depth and evangelical integrity. The best method for disseminating the excellent material in the document is to have a number of parallel initiatives which enable Baptists to engage in conversations with Muslims. I share the conviction of the BWA response that “the ongoing work is best done by encouraging regional unions and conventions of churches to engage in joint conversations and practical projects for aid and development with their Muslim neighbours, in ways that are appropriate for their own area.”
Whoever undertakes this new journey will be aware it is fraught with pitfalls, but I know many of you share my conviction that it is timely to build bridges of respect and understanding with moderate Islam. I also believe it is possible to humbly make our confession in the uniqueness of
Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation and to express our freedom as Baptists to openly share our faith in the Gospel. In the words of the Cairns Living Water statement:
We affirm the uniqueness of Christ and believe we need to find ways to express this that are not demeaning of other peoples beliefs.
The Dedication of the Baptism Centre in Jordan was one of the highlights of my ministry travels this year. The most remarkable feature of the story is that neither the Baptists of Jordan nor the BWA/EBF were seeking this Baptism Centre project. It was the generous gift of the Muslim King Abdullah II of Jordan and was facilitated with remarkable partnership by the cousin of the King, Prince Ghazi, a devout Muslim and the main architect behind the Muslim letter “A Common Word.”
The Baptist Convention in Jordan has just 20 churches with around 2,000 members. If you add to this the other evangelical denominations in Jordan (such as Christian Brethren; Independent Evangelicals; Assembles of God), you are still considering a small minority of Baptist/Evangelical believers in a majority-Muslim country. The media profile given to the Dedication of the Baptism Centre gave these believers front page coverage in national newspapers and on TV and radio news programmes. As an elderly Jordanian Baptist commented to me on the day of dedication, “This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes.”
A young Jordanian business couple told me they thought of the verse from Revelation 3:8: “Behold the Lord has set before you an open door and no one can shut it.” Their prayer is that now that a door of Gospel opportunity has opened in Jordan, the Baptists and evangelical community will have the courage to step out into whatever God has prepared for them. The major prayer goal is still full recognition and liberty by the Jordan Government for the Baptists and Evangelicals. This was the purpose of the BWA visit to King Abdullah in September 2007 and it remains a prayer burden for these believers in Jordan. Nevertheless, 20 March 2009 was a landmark occasion and it was inspiring to share in the celebrations of this day when 120 candidates confessed their faith in Jesus their Lord as they were baptised in a very cold and muddy River Jordan!
Finally, I want to express my deep appreciation to the many friends who have served as my hosts during my travels in recent months. I am personally grateful to those conventions and unions that contribute generously toward the costs of my travel and accommodation when I am ministering in their churches. In every place I have visited, there have been spiritual encouragements for celebration and pastoral concerns for prayer; but the greatest joy is that Baptists are taking seriously the responsibility to share in the task of mission and evangelism.
This prime commitment to evangelism takes us back to our Baptist roots in Amsterdam where the 1609 community laid emphasis on every person being involved in the task of spreading the good news of the Gospel. This passion for Baptist mission was later captured in the memorable phrase of the German Baptist J.G. Oncken – “Every member a missionary.” I am grateful for all that has been accomplished through the BWA Living Water initiative, and as we enter the final year of this programme which was launched at the Birmingham Congress in 2005, we will need to be vigilant in ensuring the mission and evangelism heartbeat continues to flourish. Never let the heartbeat of mission become a headache for the BWA.
I am working through what I consider one of the books of the decade – Chris Wright’s The Mission of God (IVP 2006). His main thesis is that the missionary mandate of the Church does not simply rest on the Great Commission passage of Matthew 28, but the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation is a revelation of a God who is on mission so that in Paul’s wonderful phrase, we are identified as “co-workers with God” (1 Cor. 3:9).
With this mission perspective, the focus of mission is turned on its head.
We may wonder what kind of mission God has in mind for me.
When the real question is what kind of me does God want for His mission.
General Secretary Neville Callam’s Report
General Council of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA)
Ede, Netherlands, 26 July – 1 August 2009
“…we celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the Baptist
congregation developed out of the English separatist congregation of John Smyth and
Thomas Helwys, meeting in rooms in a bakery owned by a member of the Dutch Mennonite community in Amsterdam…”
In our Gathering this year, we mark the 400th anniversary of the historic Baptist movement. The focus of our celebration here in Ede is commemorative, rather than forward-looking. We hope that Baptist bodies whose representatives participate in this Gathering will build on the reflections shared during these days to do the necessary work of projecting into the future a vision of what God might be calling Baptists to be and to do in the years ahead.
We are deeply grateful to the Dutch Baptists for the enormous help they have given as our hosts in the Netherlands. Partnership with them in preparing for these meetings has been an exercise in joyful Christian service. We thank God for the opportunity to see Christ in our Baptist sisters and brothers in the Netherlands.
Our meetings take place in the context of corporate worship in which we celebrate what God has enabled through the four centuries of our life as a diverse body in an interesting world. We are grateful to the communications specialists who have helped spread the story of God’s doings among world Baptists and, as a sign of this, we have representative communicators leading some of our morning services of worship. These, together with presentations and discussions especially in forums, commissions and workgroups, and also our Special Quadricetennial Service in Amsterdam will give expression both to our thankfulness to God for past blessings and offer perspectives on our analysis of the path the Baptist movement has trod.
The World in Economic Distress
“This is unquestionably the worst economic crisis since the 1930’s”
The current financial crisis in the US is likely to be judged in retrospect as the most wrenching since the end of the second world war.
We meet at a time when the world is still seeking to come to terms with a significant downturn in economic fortunes. Greed, self-seeking and reliance on acquisitive instincts, which are not sufficiently trained for the maintenance of social harmony, have led us down a very rough road. People everywhere, including those who some deem immune to the severe effects of the financial meltdown, have been hard hit by the global financial tsunami. In this context, vast financial challenges face translocal ecclesial bodies that rely on voluntary giving. Over the years, the BWA has benefited from people’s faithful response to the Spirit’s leading to offer financial support to a movement pledged to fulfill the mandate that God in grace has given. During these challenging days, we have rediscovered the need to rely utterly on the Spirit for the gifts needed to do ministry. We have set our sights squarely on discerning how God would have us respond to the distressing financial situation, and have sought to employ strategies that do not compromise our witness as people of God. God has been faithful and we offer praise and thanks for the level of sacrifice that has been manifested by our member bodies and other partners in BWA’s ministry. Their loyalty is but a sign of their commitment to the mission of God through the church.
While we make this acknowledgement with deep gratitude, we also record the fact that our work was made challenging by the severe losses the BWA recorded in our investment portfolio. Our investment procedures are guided by the BWA’s fiscal policy and resourced by our Investment Committee, a sub-committee of the BWA Budget and Finance Committee. The loss has negatively impacted our work and raises questions about the wisdom of our traditional reliance on uncertain proceeds of financial investments for carrying out our work.
At the meeting of the BWA Executive in March 2009, decision was taken to reduce the BWA 2009 budget by 29%. This has led to significant reductions in personnel costs, but has not significantly affected the BWA’s program of work in a negative way. The staff at the BWA Center in Falls Church, Virginia, is to be complemented for the commitment to the work of God through the Alliance and for the enviable depth of concern for each other that yielded readiness to personally suffer compensation loss rather than deprive gifted team members of an opportunity to contribute to a ministry to which they are deeply committed. In this way, I believe, the staff has honored God and provided a noble example of the kind of solidarity needed for ecclesial bodies to serve effectively and in the spirit of Christian love.
Reflections upon several aspects of our work and experience since our last Annual Gathering have motivated me to raise four issues for our reflections and to unveil plans for a vast opportunity that our current celebration suggests.
“We cannot effect any turning point in the crisis we experience if the spirituality we profess
debars us from involvement in the social, economic and political affairs of the [world].”
“The proper freedom of the Church is inseparable from its obligation to declare the
sovereignty of Christ over every sphere of human life without exception.”
I wish to invite my Baptist sisters and brothers to reaffirm our calling to engage in prophetic ministry. We applaud the work being done by many of our member bodies in addressing pressing situations in our world that call for prophetic engagement. Surely, our priestly functions are properly complemented by a calling to intelligent advocacy in faithfulness to God’s will for justice to reign in the earth. We rejoice in the opportunity provided during this past year to speak a clear collective word in the service of faithful Christian ministry in the service of justice. We wish it were easy to increase the exercise of this ministry at the global level in a way that does not put weak bonds of unity at risk.
Our involvement in the Dedication of the Baptism site on the Jordanian side of the historic Jordan River was meant to signal our unending commitment to religious freedom for all. Partly because of this witness, we hope that Baptists in Jordan who believe in religious freedom for all will have their right to religious freedom more securely embraced in their own country.
Yet, the action of the BWA needs to be seen, and the voice of the BWA needs to be heard, more decisively on vital issues affecting our world today. In faithfulness to our commitment to justice in the name of God, we must devise ways of collectively bearing witness to Christ. We must do this not because we believe we know all the answers and we have a God-given responsibility to instruct politicians, for example, so they may take appropriate actions – not at all! We need to bear prophetic witness because the church is called to be a “learning church calling others and itself to a new humility of learning before God.”
“The Church must declare with conviction that genuine love is possible between
human beings regardless of ethnic characteristics, religion, nationality or economic standing.”
“Only an authentic witness and ministry, immersed in a community of social action
and reflection alert to shared responsibility, establishes the right of Christians to be
heard or even the possibility of Christians uttering a renewing word.”
As a follow up to the BWA’s response to the Muslim scholars’ letter, the question arises concerning whether the BWA does not need to address what seems to be the compelling case for Christian-Muslim dialogue on an ongoing and worldwide basis. Of course, we expect that dialogue between Baptist Christians and Muslims will take place at the local level in member bodies and countries spread across the world. However, is there not the need to supplement these dialogues with a discussion among Baptists at the global level that would seek to lend coherence to the various dialogues taking place locally? We are not making a case for local dialogues needing to depend on a dialogue at the global scale. The days for such an approach are long past. What we are calling for is the establishment of a Commission on Christian-Muslim dialogue at the global level in which Baptists share. This Commission could receive contributions from ongoing dialogues taking place around the world. It would also provide space for shared reflection and resource sharing that may be deemed appropriate and useful.
It is possible that some would prefer to extend this suggestion in the direction of an all-embracing Commission that extends conversation between Baptist Christians and people of other faiths, not just Muslims alone. Whether the time for this has arrived is unclear. But this is a matter that the General Council may want to consider as well.
Freedom and Justice
“[J]ustice and peace issues are not merely “social” or “political” issues.
They are first and foremost “spiritual” issues.”
“Moving beyond parochialism and provincialism in lives of worship,
forgiveness, proclamation, service, and justice making, we are called
to risk ourselves for the sake of God’s reconciled creation.”
No longer can the Baptist World Alliance afford to delay in appointing a Director of Freedom and Justice. It was in 1949 that the BWA Executive Committee set up a “special Commission on Religious Freedom.” The scope of this Commission’s work was widened in 1961 when it was agreed that the “Commission on Religious Liberty and Human Rights” would “give attention to religious liberty, world peace, racial issues and public morality.” BWA General Secretary Denton Lotz’s call for the establishment of a new Division was supported by the BWA Twenty-First Century Committee. The General Council meeting in Prague in 2008, voted to establish the Division as of September 1, 2009. Since that start-up date, the BWA General Secretary has collaborated with Julie Justus to carry out the work of the Division. With help from others, we will present to this General Council a proposed profile on the structure and operation of the Division, including its Commissions.
Let this BWA General Council take action to fully staff the Freedom and Justice Division of its work. We must avoid cowardly wavering or faith-lacking inaction and dare bold action in the confident knowledge of the divine enabling of the work God in Christ has assigned us to do in the power of the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile, we take responsible steps that are consistent with the reasonable exercise of our faith.
Christian multi-cultural hermeneutic for the BWA
“All discussion begins with vocabulary… Terms mean different things to different audiences, even when they speak the same language… We cannot compare two interpretations without without some appreciation of other obvious differences that might exist between the two sources”
“It is only when this process [of discerning a Baptist genealogy] is undertaken by people
from various contexts that the real challenge will appear, namely how to discern an international, intercultural, inter-contextual hermeneutic that will render an account of the rich texture of early Baptist self understanding thrown up by the discernment in context of what the divine disclosure unveils to Baptist eyes and minds.”
Has the time come for discussion in the BWA on the subject of a Christian multi-cultural hermeneutic for international intra-Baptist relations? In reflecting on the experiences of the past year and a half, I have come to the conclusion that we need to undertake a serious examination of the ways in which we understand each other in the BWA.
I believe there is need for us to clarify the images we have of the other in our worldwide movement. We also have an obligation to investigate the methodology by which we develop norms in this worldwide movement in which members of each cultural group rightly understand the incarnation as an event that takes place in, and is understood through the lenses of, their own cultural and historical context. We need to examine the ways in which we understand the various cultures of participants in the BWA.
For the maintenance of the needed mutuality of respect by and for diverse participants in the BWA movement, let the relevant BWA set up a Special Commission to engage in the consideration of a Christian multi-cultural hermeneutic that is admissible among us. This hermeneutic speaks to both how we understand each other and how we communicate with each other. Let us share information on the findings of our discussion and set up systems to monitor adherence to the spirit of the affirmations that might arise from our systematic reflections on an admissible intra-Baptist hermeneutic.
The discussion of a Christian multi-cultural hermeneutic for the BWA should provide a bulwark against any unique ad privileged sense of cultural superiority that might attach itself to traditional ways of doing things in the BWA. The discussion should also clarify whether, over the years, as certain cultural norms have been employed in defining what is acceptable within the BWA, these have chained the movement in a certain cultural captivity. We should also receive help in ascertaining whether and how changes need to me made. It may also contribute to the reduction of tension among believers from various cultures when we gather in settings to seek consensus on difficult issues of concern to us in the worldwide Baptist movement.
In most cases, capital … campaigns will take the organization to the next level.
Seeing volunteers solicit and receive large gifts is exciting. So, too, is the
accomplishment of a successful campaign that literally builds for the future
through realizing capital needs or establishing the future solidarity of an endowment.”
… our greatest power to change the world is released when we come together in
collective action to organize and focus the resources of the whole body of Christ.”
During this Annual Gathering in the quadricentennial year of Baptist witness, we take the opportunity to acknowledge the goodness of God to the people called Baptists. We also celebrate the unique gift that the BWA has been to Baptists around the world.
Many have been the Baptist groups – unions, conventions, associations and institutions – and individuals that God has led to generously contribute to enable the BWA to undertake its ministry. We give thanks for all whose obedient stewardship has helped make possible what the BWA has done and we pray that God will raise up more persons and institutions to preserve and perpetuate the legacy that we proudly acknowledge
During the recent past, when all movements and institutions have traversed the minefield of economic collapse, the BWA has suffered enormous loss in our investments portfolio. The BWA General Fund absorbed the losses from both unrestricted and restricted funds in order to comply with US accounting rules. The net loss, during 2008 alone stands at $1.6 million dollars! Instead of simply lamenting this catastrophe, we must dare new steps to invest in the future of a movement that should never be allowed to die.
Shall we not establish a BWA 400 Legacy Society comprising all Baptist members, churches, unions/conventions and institutions that present a thank offering, a gift of 4, 40, 400, or 4,000 units in the currency of their home nation? These special contributions, given over the period August 1, 2009 to July 31, 2015, are placed in a Reserve Fund providing the means to secure the ongoing ministry of the BWA in times of economic insecurity and supplying seed money for new initiatives.
Other special contributions to the BWA 400 Legacy Fund will come from those Baptists who designate the BWA as the beneficiary of their planned or future gifts, such as bequests. We gratefully acknowledge those who have already done this; we urge more Baptists to follow suit.
Playing a vital role in the success of the BWA 400 Legacy Society will be the members of the Baptist World Emeritus/Emerita Club. These are persons who are former holders of Executive positions in the BWA or its member bodies and whose support for the BWA is well known. These gifted persons will help raise awareness of the ministry of the BWA and garner financial support for its work.
BWA Ambassadors will also help share knowledge of the importance of the mission of the BWA and the reason why Baptists should support it. These ambassadors are volunteer Baptist leaders from around the world persons who are chosen for their commitment to the BWA mission and message and for their giftedness and willingness to encourage support for the BWA in Baptist churches and organizations and with individual Baptist believers.
With the prayers of all Baptists and the leadership of those who serve in a range of capacities to help galvanize support for the BWA Legacy Society, we expect that, over time, great results will attend this venture.
“No matter how well we understand the times we are in, it is impossible to be effective
as a church without crossing boundaries of comfort, culture and convenience… Visionary
leaders assist others to understand what they should be involved with and why what they
do is important.”
As we go forward, we remember the oft-quoted words of William Carey: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” It is to the extent that we go forward with commitment, courage and dedication to BWA’s faithfulness to the mission God has assigned it that we will secure, under God, the future of the worldwide Baptist movement. Let each and all of us decide to get involved because of our gratitude to God for what the Holy Spirit may yet accomplish through the ministry of the BWA.