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Recent blog posts
01
Nov
1

The call to evangelism

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
The church should not delegate its evangelistic mandate to gifted individuals in its ranks. Nor should it assign this responsibility to agencies established by, but separated from, the church. Evangelism is the responsibility of the whole church whose members the Holy Spirit gifts and calls for the work of evangelism.This was one of the declarations of the Fifth Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The theme of that assembly, which... Continue reading
Hits: 303
17
Oct
6

Commemorating the Reformation

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
The church, which is the creation of God’s Word and God’s Spirit, belongs to God. It is holy, and the holiness of the church stands in contrast to individual and communal sin. Historically, sin, which runs counter to the church’s nature and vocation, has disfigured the church’s witness. God the Holy Spirit enables reform and renewal in the life of the people of God who have the vocation to serve God’s mission... Continue reading
Hits: 1529
01
Oct
1

Of Sin and Grace

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
In his widely read book, The Cost of Discipleship, German theologian and Christian martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, praised Martin Luther for rediscovering the gospel of pure grace. For his part, however, Bonhoeffer warned of the danger of cheap grace. Cheap grace, he said, is “preaching ... forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living... Continue reading
Hits: 470
15
Sep
6

Worship and Mystery

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
Our experience of the God who chooses us, searches for us and finds us makes our life an exciting adventure. The worship we offer in response is a whole-life engagement by every follower of Christ. Organized corporate worship events are a vital part of the life of the Christian community. At least once per week, do we not assemble in God's presence in response to the experience of God's faithfulness? And when... Continue reading
Hits: 741
01
Sep
0

Appeal to Baptists in USA

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
In 1911, the Northern Baptist Convention and the Free Will Baptist General Conference forged a church union. This was perhaps the first example of organic church unity in the 20th century. Since that time, the resulting group has led the way, among Baptists in the USA, in developing and manifesting a positive ecumenical commitment and outlook. In 1950, Northern Baptist Convention changed its name to American Baptist Convention and invited other Baptist... Continue reading
Hits: 933
27
Jun
1

A New Publication

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
When, in 2016, BWA gave me a seven-week sabbatical, the hope was that I could use this time to help me make significant progress in completing a manuscript, just published by Judson Press, with the title, From Fragmentation to Wholeness: Race, Ethnicity, and Communion. The book, which can be acquired from Judson Press (www.judsonpress.com), focuses on one of the central motifs of my decade of service as BWA General Secretary. I am... Continue reading
Hits: 1208
01
Jun
0

BWA – Adults, Youth and Children Together

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
I remember with joy visiting with Bruce Milne during the 2016 BWA Annual Gathering in Vancouver, Canada. During my college days, I used Dr. Milne’s commentary on the Gospel according to John. In later years, I became aware of ways in which this saintly man has contributed to the ministry of BWA. It was good to see him again, after we last met at the Baptist World Congress in Melbourne, Australia, in... Continue reading
Hits: 1069
01
May
2

Strengthening Christian world mission

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
Many religious groups have been severely affected by the Great Recession of 2008. Since the onset of the financial meltdown that precipitated that recession, many religious institutions are still trying to recover from the undesired harmful effects of that experience. Around the world, thousands of churches are closing their doors each year for reasons including   their inability to service their mortgage and noteworthy decline in church attendance. These developments remind us that... Continue reading
Hits: 1136
01
Apr
0

Facts and judgments

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
William Thomas and Florian Znaniecki’s sociological classic, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, is a study of the conditions of Polish immigrants in America. This exhaustive work illustrates how important it is to develop an accurate “definition of the situation” if we are to properly understand social reality. The same principle applies to responsible decision-making. Persons examining a situation with a view to passing an ethical judgment need to ensure that... Continue reading
Hits: 1329
01
Mar
5

A Study in Resilience

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
If you grew up in circumstances where adversity thrives, your confidence in the future can be undermined. Living perpetually in dire situations can lead to insulation from positive expectations. Something tells you nothing will ever change; nothing good will ever happen to you. Yet, extended exposure to painful experience can elicit another response. It can fuel your courage, reinforce your determination and fire your zeal to overcome. You manage to dispel the... Continue reading
Hits: 1471
01
Feb
3

Loving the Stranger

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
Even a cursory examination of the Holy Bible will fill the mind of an enquirer with a panorama of virtues that can transform the landscape of human experience if they are practiced. One of these virtues is hospitality to strangers. The "Old Testament" contains many stories that reveal both the wonder and the joy of welcoming strangers. Remember, for example, how at Mamre, Abraham and Sarah received three men whom they did... Continue reading
Hits: 1813
01
Jan
3

Celebrating Women in Leadership

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
Jamaica, the land of my birth, is a place whose people are proud of their country. Among the many reasons they cite are the following two minor ones: Jamaica is the first country outside of Europe to introduce a train system offering passenger service, and residents of the Jamaica north coast town named Falmouth had piped water available in their homes before the people of New York City did. Other sources of... Continue reading
Hits: 1467
01
Dec
1

Thinking about love

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
The church is blessed to have a fair number of truly outstanding New Testament scholars and Craig Keener is one of them. I first met Craig nine years ago when he was a professor at Palmer Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States. He amazed me with the gift of a number of his books, to which I have returned again and again since 2007.Keener's voluminous works include the popular IVP... Continue reading
Hits: 1782
01
Nov
1

Toward Closer Communion

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
October 31, 2017, will be a significant date in the calendar of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). Declared by the German parliament a nationwide public holiday, the day will bring to a close the EKD’s celebration of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The German celebration is dubbed “a festival of Christ that seeks to send the... Continue reading
Hits: 1896
01
Oct
1

Voicing the Message

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
I miss that bell. Its voice fell silent when, the national elections ended and the votes counted, the political party that used a bell as its symbol was declared the winner. Overjoyed at the taste of victory at the polls, after years in opposition, a handful of partisan enthusiasts appropriated the instrument that summoned people to community worship and made it a clanging symbol of political success. They beat the bell with... Continue reading
Hits: 1808
01
Jun
0

On Baptism

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
Recently, I was at the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky to deliver the E. Glenn Hinson Lectures for 2016. Introduced in 2009 with celebrated church historian Hinson as the presenter, this series of lectures has attracted such scholars as Loyd Allen, McAfee School of Theology, 2010; Stephanie Paulsell, Harvard Divinity School, 2011; Don Saliers, Emory University, 2012; Robin Jensen, Vanderbilt University, 2013; Willie Jennings, Duke University Divinity School, 2014; and Molly Marshall, Central... Continue reading
Hits: 2284
01
May
1

Celebrating Creation

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
Australian church historian, Kerri Handasyde, had an illuminating essay on “Harvest Thanksgiving and the Photography of Grace” in a recent issue of the Australian Journal of Liturgy. Arguing that harvest thanksgiving “rests at the junction of liturgy, nature and memory,” Handasyde presents an artful analysis of the harvest thanksgiving tradition in Nonconformist churches in Australia in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She offers reflections on the traditions of the Salvation Army,... Continue reading
Hits: 2245
01
Apr
2

Wholesome Formation

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
Easter is the crowning celebration of the Christian year and Easter Day is a time of great rejoicing. How tragic is it that on such a day children playing in a park in Lahore, Pakistan became the target of an act of terrorism.The attack in Lahore, the terrorist attacks in Beirut, Lebanon; Paris, France; Maiduguri, Nigeria; Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Ankara and Istanbul in Turkey; Damascus, Syria; Brussels, Belgium and Baghdad, Iraq, are... Continue reading
Hits: 4149
01
Mar
0

When the churches present inconsistent moral teachings

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
I continue to be intrigued by a report that emerged in the wake of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, October 4-25, 2015.The report alleges that, on October 12, 2015, near the start of the synod, 13 cardinals, including New York's Timothy Dolan, delivered a letter to Pope Francis expressing their concern about aspects of the procedures and emphases of the synod. Among the... Continue reading
Hits: 2017
23
Dec
1

Good news from Paris, France

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
In December, after almost two weeks of negotiations, representatives of 195 countries agreed on steps to be taken to counteract the causes of climate change. The world breathed a sigh of relief at the great leap forward in the expression of unselfish concern for the earth and for future generations that will live here. Christians who take seriously the vocation to care for God’s creation celebrate the outcome of the Paris Climate... Continue reading
Hits: 3767
30
Nov
5

Fractured but ripe

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
As we enter a season of new beginnings, we may recall significant events that remind us of God's delight in making things new. One such event led me, last month, to visit the Richmond Hill Prison in the Caribbean’s “spice island” of Grenada. The prison, constructed as a hospital by the French in 1860, was converted into a prison after fire destroyed the original buildings. It attracted world attention when, after gaining... Continue reading
Hits: 2939
29
Oct
3

Dialogue

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
On October 31, 2017, Christians will mark the 500th anniversary of the posting of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses on the Castle Door at Wittenberg, Germany, that pivotal opening event of the Protestant Reformation. The Lutheran Catholic Commission on Unity has made a case for an ecumenical commemoration of this significant anniversary. The commission’s report, From Conflict to Communion, proposes a common remembrance of the Reformation by Christian World Communions. The commission’s proposal comes... Continue reading
Hits: 7837
30
Sep
0

Refugees

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
Lord, you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat. When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm, the noise of aliens like heat in a dry place, you subdued the heat with shade of clouds; the song of the ruthless was stilled (Isaiah 25:4-5 NRSV). You see their faces stained... Continue reading
Hits: 4178
31
Aug
3

“Can any good thing come” from Africa?

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
“Can any good thing come from Africa?” Read the news reports and op-eds, and you may be led to believe a negative answer is inevitable. Yet, how incorrect this conclusion is! Consider, for example, the stewardship of one African theologian whose contribution many Baptists worldwide greatly admire. Osadolor Imasogie was born in Benin City in southwest Nigeria in 1928. After serving as a teacher in the Nigerian primary school system, he set... Continue reading
Hits: 4587
01
Jul
2

A Festival of Giving

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
In a matter of days, several thousand Baptists will converge on Durban, South Africa, for the 21st Baptist World Congress. Participants will experience the joy of giving and receiving as we encounter each other with the riches of our unique experiences that are filtered through the lenses of our common commitment to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus. From the experience of sharing with each other, we expect to develop... Continue reading
Hits: 5272
01
Jun
0

A Journey Well Worth Taking

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
Representatives from the churches in Southern Africa were in attendance when the inaugural congress of what became the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) took place in 1905. Rev. and Mrs. F. G. West from Pietermaritzburg (umGungundlovu in Zulu), Natal, and Mr. T. Burnham King from Kingwilliamstown in the Cape were among the “delegates” attending the London meetings. In his brief address at the congress, Burnham King called the meeting “epoch-making,” and spoke of... Continue reading
Hits: 5466
01
May
0

It is OK to Dream

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
The 4th Baptist International Conference on Theological Education (BICTE) was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 31 to August 3, 1993. I was among those who had the opportunity to participate in this conference that preceded the 12th Baptist Youth World Conference in Harare, Zimbabwe, in August 11-15. While in South Africa, I received fresh insights into the sad effects of the injustice that influenced the World Council of Churches (WCC) to... Continue reading
Hits: 5644
31
Mar
1

When Baptists Meet: A Feast of Diversity

Posted by on in General Secretary's Blog
Some people say that part of the genius of being Baptist is the admissibility of a wide diversity of viewpoints contending with each other, sometimes within a single congregation. Sometimes, each purveyor of these divergent expressions insists that theirs is the truly responsible position. They posit interesting arguments to support their conclusion. In his recently published book, Contesting Catholicity: Theology for Other Baptists (Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2014) Baptist scholar Curtis... Continue reading
Hits: 5348