Vol 9 No. 28 BWA Annual Gathering


Dear Folks,

The Baptist World Alliance meetings began at the beginning of July in Jamaica. I was supposed to attend but was unable to do so because of other ministry commitments, however I have some pieces from that set of meetings that I’d like to share with you. The first is a description of the Baptist World Alliance. Here is a paragraph taken from the homepage of their website:

Welcome to the Baptist World Alliance®, a fellowship of 228 conventions and unions in 120 countries comprising 42 million members in 177,000 churches. During the coming years, we are committed to 1) Promoting worship, fellowship and unity, 2) Nurturing the passion for mission and evangelism, 3) Responding to human need through relief and sustainable community development, 4) Defending human rights and justice, and 5) Promoting relevant theological reflection.

I am quoting from an update from Sam Chaise about his experience at these meetings and I quote:

I have been at the BWA Annual Gathering for the past six days, along with Ken Bellous.  These have been very full and rich days.  The Annual Gathering brings together key leaders from the Baptist world community – Executive Directors and General Secretaries, theological educators, leaders of women’s and men’s ministries.  In addition to the official delegates that represent their member unions, others come as guests because of their interest.  Approximately 400 people are here, 200 of which are North American.  BWA is on a continuous journey away from being an American-dominated institution to one that is more global (though, frankly, it is the USA that still funds it).

 I have had a very full set of meetings and interactions.   It’s a reminder to me of how beneficial it is to be here – in some ways it’s the global leadership equivalent of one of our denominational assemblies, where many key people gather together in one place and so you can have many conversations in a short period of time that otherwise probably wouldn’t happen.  It occurs to me that as this BWA Annual meeting moves around the world, it would develop our partners’ top leaders to invite them to attend when the meeting is happening nearby – there are few contexts that would broaden their understanding of ministry/leadership more than being exposed to the breadth of global leadership that is here.  It would be a rich learning experience.

Sam also made some comments about The Baptist Union of Great Britain: “They have 2,150 churches; approximately 500 are under 50 in membership.  Ethnic churches are where the growth is.  They’ve had to cut 1 million pounds of out of a 7 million budget, and have reduced staff count to make this happen.  Seven years ago they passed a clear resolution around same-sex blessings, prohibiting clergy from officiating, participating, or attending a same-sex blessing”.

That doesn’t prevent healthy discussion of about how we care for one another but it is interesting how the British Baptist have responded to this concern. Sam further said:

The General Council (which is the decision-making body) passed a number of Resolutions, expressing opinion on certain global issues.  Once these are published online I’ll share them with you.

  • Two significant documents were produced:
    • The outcome of a Baptist-Catholic dialogue, which will strengthen the identity and place of Baptist churches in Catholic-dominated and Catholic-background countries.  This will especially help in countries where on-the-ground-Catholicism opposes and hinders Baptist witness
    • A document to guide relationships between Baptist groups.  This will be helpful because as you know, Baptists have a propensity to separate instead of cooperate.  This document establishes some best practices and norms.


Please go to the Baptist World Alliance website and look at the article on Sam Sharpe, a Baptist deacon executed in the 1830’s for leading a slave revolt. He is considered by many to be a “prophet and martyr”.  Also take a look at the video clips, especially the one of a Baptist Pastor and Academic from Argentina, commenting on his fellow Argentinian friend, Pope Francis the 1st, plus the position papers that Sam is referring to.



In Christ,