BWA magazine wins award

Baptist World, the quarterly magazine of the Baptist World Alliance, won an award of excellence in the magazine, national category from the Religion Communicators Council (RCC).

The October/December 2014 issue of the magazine was recognized for its attractiveness, use of images and color and content.

Other Baptist-affiliated publications were recognized during the DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards ceremony, which is sponsored by the RCC. Samford University’s 2013-2014 Annual Report received Best of Class honors in the public relations materials category.

Christian Citizen - Communities of Care: The Church & Mental Illness, a publication of American Baptist Home Mission Societies and Fellowship! magazine, published by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), received awards of merit, in the magazine, national category.


The Alabama Baptist
newspaper received an award of excellence in the newspaper, local or regional category; and awards of excellence in the miscellaneous category were presented to Know It, Share It Card, published by Samford University, as well as for the 2014 General Assembly Guidebook published by CBF.

The DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards are given annually to active members of the RCC who demonstrate excellence in religious communications and public relations.

Award categories include periodicals, public relations materials, writing, graphic design, art and photography, audio and video, digital communications and social media.

Baptist World Alliance®
© April 15, 2015

Callam receives leadership award

BWA General Secretary Neville Callam receiving the Campbellsville University Leadership Award on March 25  from Joseph Owen (left), chair of Campbellsville University Board of Trustees, and John Hurtgen, dean of the School of Theology

Baptist World Alliance (BWA) General Secretary Neville Callam was presented with the Campbellsville University Leadership Award on March 25 at the university’s campus in the state of Kentucky, in the United States.

Callam was recognized “for his dedicated and extraordinary career as an educator, theologian and ecumenist, pastor and church administrator.” He was lauded for his “leadership positions with the Jamaica Baptist Union and the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship resulting in his being the first person from the Global South to be appointed as the general secretary and chief executive officer of the BWA.”

Callam, a Jamaican, was elected general secretary of the BWA in July 2007 in Accra, Ghana. He is the first person of color and the first BWA general secretary who is neither European nor American.

 

The BWA, formed in 1905, is a fellowship of 231 conventions and unions in 121 countries and territories comprising 40 million members in 177,000 churches.

Campbellsville University, with enrollment of 3,200 students, is a private liberal arts institution founded by Baptists in 1906. It offers almost 100 programs of study at the undergraduate, masters, postgraduate and pre-professional levels.

Callam was the lecturer at Campbellsville University’s Baptist Heritage Lecture Series on March 24 on the topic, World Baptists: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. He was also keynote speaker at the spring 2015 Chapel Convocation Series.

 

Baptist World Alliance®
© March 27, 2015

Baptists affected by insurgency in Nigeria

One of the many churches burned in Nigeria

At least 32 Baptist churches and just fewer than 2,000 individual Baptists have been affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in Nassarawa State  and parts of Benue State in Nigeria.

These are just the latest in a series of attacks. Previous attacks have occurred in Adamawa State, which includes the predominantly Christian city of Mubi and that of other states such as Borno, Yobe, Taraba and Bauchi‎.

The comprehensive report, submitted by Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, indicated that most of the damage was caused by vandalism and the burning of churches, residences of pastors and the homes of Baptist members.


In other instances, a number of Baptist members were killed, women were raped and farms destroyed.

Cryptic descriptions include: “Farm products destroyed, rape and scattering of members”; “Pastorium burned and church vandalized, members houses burned”; “Pastorium, church auditorium and member houses all set ablaze”; “Church invaded by insurgents, pastorium and members houses burned.”

Ayokunle asserted that the insurgency in northern Nigeria “comes most of the time through Fulani herdsmen who go about with AK-47 rifles and other sophisticated weapons to kill farmers in their villages when they are fast asleep in the night.”

He alleged that many of the insurgents are from outside of Nigeria, which makes the support of Cameroon, Chad and Niger important as Boko Haram terrorists would not have havens to hide.

The Nigerian Baptist leader told the Baptist World Alliance that the Nigerian government, with assistance from Cameroon, Chad and Niger, has had success in repelling Boko Haram in recent days.

Ayokunle expressed gratitude for prayers offered on behalf of his country.

“I must also acknowledge the effects of prayers of many saints who are joining us in prayer toward overcoming this bloodshed which the Islamic Fundamentalists embarked upon in our country. The insurgents all over the world will not prevail in the name of Jesus."

Assistance to those who have been displaced may be made online at www.bwanet.org or sent to:

Baptist World Aid
c/o Baptist World Alliance
405 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
USA

Baptist World Alliance®
© March 19, 2015

Easter Message 2015

Full freedom in utter reliance

The multiple dimensions of the church's vocation require that true humility attend the living out of our ecclesial identity.                               

Christians understand this because they know something of the power of powerlessness, the might of weakness, and the wealth of poverty. In their worship and witness, in their mission and service, they are meant to unveil the humility that selflessness breathes.

During this season of the Christian year, we celebrate the resurrection of the one who did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped. Instead, he practiced self-emptying love and so opened the doorway to eternal life for us.

From the cross, the one who calmed the winds, healed the sick and raised the dead stares down at us powerless. He faces the consequences of a travesty of justice. He is wounded for the wrong we did; crushed for our sinful action. He wears the robes of a victim who is helpless before the violence of a misguided mob.

Then comes Easter Day! We discover that the man on the cross is victor, not victim. Mercilessly nailed to a cross, he is actually lifted up to draw humankind to God. The one dressed in the rags of powerlessness at the cross actually shows us where to find true power and how to manifest true strength. Not surprisingly, on Easter morning, God raises him from the grave, his mission being accomplished.

We can now affirm that part of the vocation of the church is to model one value that lies at the very heart of our life: humble vulnerability. Jesus' followers know that the weak can say, "I am strong" and the poor can say, "I am rich." And this is the result of God's work in the death and resurrection of our Jesus the Christ.

At Easter, we remember that, where there is weakness, God's power can be powerfully shown. To believe this is to recognize that full freedom can be found only in utter reliance on the dependable one who is our Savior.

Neville Callam
General Secretary
Baptist World Alliance

Rwandan to receive international human rights award

Corneille Gato Munyamasoko, general secretary of the Association of Baptist Churches in Rwanda (AEBR), is the recipient of the 2015 Baptist World Alliance Congress Quinquennial Human Rights Award.

The award, presented every five years, will be given in July in Durban, South Africa, where the 21st Baptist World Congress, the first in Africa, will be held.

Munyamasoko, who has dedicated his life to peace and reconciliation and fighting the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS, was born in exile in what was then Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to refugee parents who fled Rwanda in 1959 when outbreaks of ethnic violence shook regions of the country.

While working as a teacher in the DRC, Munyamasoko joined other youth leaders to bring various factions together, helping to overcome national rivalries and ethnic differences between Rwandans and Congolese, restoring harmony and reducing interpersonal conflicts.


The 1994 genocide in Rwanda was a turning point for Munyamasoko and his family. The arrival of genocidaires from Rwanda (those who committed genocide in that country) led to killings of Tutsi people in the DRC.

Munyamasoko and his family returned to Rwanda to participate in the reconstruction of the country. Munyamasoko had connections with the Association of Baptist Churches of Rwanda and was appointed as a high school principal in a region that bordered the DRC.

Armed genocidaires made regular incursions across the border from DRC into Rwanda. On one occasion the entire student body of a nearby boarding school was killed. Munyamasoko and his wife, Anne-Marie, opened their home to accept genocide orphans as their own children.

Pastors of the AEBR recognized Munyamasoko’s leadership gifts and elected him deputy general secretary of the denomination. His responsibilities included pastoral duties in a congregation, regional church leadership and oversight of 51 schools.

Munyamasoko was convinced the future of Rwanda depended on building a culture of peace among young people. The majority of adolescents had witnessed acts of violence during the genocide. Some students were Tutsi survivors. Munyamasoko launched peace and reconciliation clubs in each of the secondary schools under his jurisdiction and appointed school chaplains.

He was appointed director of development ministries of the AEBR and participated in integral mission, training that combined the disciplines of community development and biblical theology. While working in this position, he developed regional initiatives that assisted Hutu and Tutsi participants to understand the causes of the genocide, to seek and to extend forgiveness, and to build relationships based on the principles of justice, mercy and faith.

With the assistance of a colleague, Laurena Zondo of Canada, Munyamasoko launched a peace camp movement in 2010. The peace camps bring young women and men together from various provinces in Rwanda. Over a period of one week, participants form an intentional community of equality, respect, creativity and dialogue. At each camp, Munyamasoko leads the group to consider the painful background of Rwanda’s ethnic divisions. Peace camp participants engage in music, drama, art and poetry that help to bring healing and reconciliation. These camps have received government recognition for their impact.

Munyamasoko’s commitment to peace has not been limited to Rwanda. He works on both sides of the DRC-Rwanda border. During times of tension between the two countries, Munyamasoko met with church leaders and congregations in the DRC. He visited and worked with Kenyan church leaders after the 2007 election violence that shook that country. Munyamasoko later returned to Kenya to assist churches to prepare to act as agents of peace and to offer places of safety in preparation for the 2013 national elections.

In his fight against stigmatization of those who suffer from HIV and AIDs, Munyamasoko said, “As a human being but also as a pastor, I have always been touched by the stigmatization of HIV/AIDS infected and affected people in our churches, and since then I initiated an anti-stigmatization campaign among pastors in AEBR.” Pastors are trained to become role models for those who are caregivers, a campaign which Munyamasoko claims to have had great success. Stigmatization, he asserted, “is no longer an issue in our congregations.”

In 2013, Munyamasoko was elected general secretary of the AEBR, a position in which he now serves.