Vol 8 No. 43 The Voice of the World | BWA Annual Meetings 2012

Dear Folks,

The Baptist World Alliance is a voluntary association of Baptist groups, denominations, faiths or
associations in 120 countries representing 42 million members, which translates into 100 million
congregants. The BWA has a major gathering every five years and an annual gathering of committees.
The next general gathering will be held in South Africa; the previous two were in Hawaii (2010) and
Birmingham, England (2005). In North America there are reputed to be 36 million Baptists. About 15
million of those are Southern Baptists. The majority of Southern Baptist Convention churches (about 10
million) have left the BWA in part because of a dispute between the Southern Baptists and the
Cooperative Baptists. These troubles are disappointing and are sometimes simply hard to fathom. I
encourage you to look at the BWA website to get a greater sense of this fascinating group. The American
and Canadian churches (the Mexicans may be returning) belong to the North American Baptist
Fellowship. That group is worthy of another conversation and newsletter. Just for today I would like to
return to the piece of the BWA annual meeting. Each year this group discusses a variety of motions. If
there is a consensus about a motion then it is put to a vote and if it passes then it is made public as a
press release.

There were three motions this year that came to my attention as topics that have had some
voice or traction in the CBWC. These motions may or may not interest or engage you but let’s remember
together something very simple; there are over 100 million Baptists in the world…if we remove from
that number the third (36 million) that reside in North America there remain a robust 60 plus million.
Whosoevers voice you hear in these motions, many in the non-North American world have not been
heard from in a long time…a long overdue time. I’m going to share two resolutions with you today, one
on “Religious Liberty” and the other on “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World”. We do not have
room this week to put in the resolution for “Climate Change and our Responsibility”, that will follow.

Religious Liberty

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance®, meeting in Santiago, Chile July 2-7, 2012:

ACKNOWLEDGING we as Baptists are now celebrating the historic occasion of the 400 th anniversary
of Thomas Helwys’ 1612 publication of the Mystery of Iniquity, the first defense of Universal Religious
Liberty for all persons to be published in the English language;

WHEREAS, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”*,

WHEREAS, Religion can be deeply rooted in the identity of a person and one’s relation to the
transcendental world expressed in acts of worship and the sharing of one’s faith;

WHEREAS, Religious Liberty for all persons has been a foundational Baptist principle for 400 years;

WHEREAS, Religious Liberty appears to be taken for granted even as religious minority groups in various
parts of the world are suffering for lack of religious liberty protection;

WHEREAS, Religious Liberty cannot be taken for granted, but must be defended by very generation;

THEREFORE CALLS on Baptist church leaders around the world to renew urgently the teaching on
Religious Liberty for all persons and to serve as advocates in their congregations and communities for
the protection of all who wish to worship as their conscience dictate.

*Article 18, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance®, meeting in Santiago, Chile July 2-7, 2012:

DECLARES that sharing the Good News in both word and deed is an imperative for Christians
commissioned by our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19);

AFFIRMS that violence, bribes, threats or force are incompatible with Christian mission;

LAMENTS increasing interreligious, political, and economic tensions in the world that result in conflicts,
bribes, threats, force, violence, war, and loss of life; and that Christians have been, and sometimes are,
implicated in these conflicts;

REJOICES that the World Evangelical Alliance, the World Council of Churches, and the Pontifical Council
for Interreligious Dialogue jointly endorsed recommendations for conduct for all Christians in Christian
Witness in a Multi-Religious World. The text proposes ethical guidelines and practices in witnessing to
faith in Christ;

URGES Baptists, all Christians, adherents of other faiths, and those of no faith tradition to live together
peaceably and with mutual respect to foster reconciling relationships with others;

COMMENDS AND ENDORSES Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World,* for study and encourages
Baptist World Alliance® member conventions, unions, and associations to incorporate and contextualize
these and similar ethical practices in relationships with other faith traditions and individuals.

(*Document Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World can be found at www.worldevangelicals.org/


In Christ,