Callam re-elected to another five-year term

Baptist World Alliance (BWA) General Secretary Neville Callam has been re-elected by the BWA General Council at its meeting in Izmir, Turkey, to another five years in office.

Callam, a Jamaican, became the first person who is neither North American nor European to lead the global Baptist organization when he was elected in 2007 at the BWA General Council meeting in Accra, Ghana. His new term runs from 2015-2020.

Callam came to the office of general secretary at a time of major constitutional and operational changes within the global organization for Baptists, many with potentially major implications on the future of the BWA.

Taking what he calls a “collaborative approach to leadership,” Callam worked closely with other BWA leaders including President John Upton; committees, including the Constitution and Bylaws Committee; and staff, to successfully implement many of the changes and negotiated those that needed review.  

Much work was done to streamline the administration of the BWA office, giving clarity to the alignment of purpose, functions and operational modalities. Callam worked with staff to employ relevant technology to improve BWA functions while minimizing cost, and put in place a conference management system to secure greater economic sustainability.

Working closely with the Budget and Finance Committee, chaired by BWA Treasurer Carolyn Fossen, who was also re-elected to another five-year term, Callam successfully shepherded the BWA through the financial crisis and global economic recession that officially began in 2007, with minimal dislocations and impact on the operations of the BWA and its staff.

A Covenant on Intra-Baptist Relations was also adopted to provide a framework for BWA response to the diversity of language, culture, opinions and perspectives in meetings and in the various operations of the international body. The document takes into account the great diversity that exists among Baptists, particularly within the BWA. It assists member organizations to understand that all equally belong in, and are needed by, the BWA.

BWA membership has grown since Callam came into office, moving from 214 to 231 member organizations in 121 countries and territories.

The divisions of Evangelism and Education and Study and Research were merged into the newly formed Division of Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection (METR). The Division of Freedom and Justice (F&J) was established under Callam’s leadership.

Other senior staff members re-elected by the General Council, which convened during the Annual Gathering in Izmir from July 6-12, were Emmett Dunn, youth director and Rothangliani  Chhangte, director of Baptist World Aid.

METR director, Brazilian Fausto Vasconcelos, gave notice of his intention to retire in 2016 and was re-affirmed until that date.  Director of F&J Raimundo Barreto, also from Brazil, resigned effective early August this year to take up the position of assistant professor of World Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary in the United States.

Baptist World Alliance®
© July 17, 2014

International Baptists weigh in on unaccompanied minor problem in the USA

Baptists meeting in the biblical city of Izmir, Turkey, last Friday, passed a resolution expressing concern for accompanied minors entering the United States from Central America “who are victimized by separation from their families, economic exploitation, lack of medical care and education, discrimination, and who are sometimes subjected to a hostile host environment.”

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), which includes leaders from countries across the globe, issued a challenge to churches “to practice hospitality and charity as they regard each minor as a neighbor and child of God.”

Baptist leaders declared “that this is not primarily an issue of unprotected borders, but a humanitarian crisis affecting the countries of origin and all of the United States as the principal receiving country and especially California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.”

The General Council, which convened during the BWA Annual Gathering, held in Izmir from July 6-12, reaffirmed an earlier resolution it passed in 2013 in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, which called on “governments of the countries involved to seek together a comprehensive approach to the underlying issues across the region that contribute to this social and human tragedy” of undocumented immigrants.

The 2014 resolution passed in Turkey endorsed an earlier resolution of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission that called on Christians and churches to offer spiritual support and pastoral services for these children.

Texans asked Baptists to create welcoming communities in the various places where these unaccompanied minors are being housed; to communicate with their Latin American networks to inform them of the dangers of the journey and the misinformation involved; and to engage in “prayer for the people of Central America, for the children who are traveling to the United States, and for all those responding to this human tragedy.”

 Baptist World Alliance®
© July 16, 2014

Human rights award presented to anti-trafficking campaigner

Ilie Coada, a Baptist pastor in Moldova who worked tirelessly against human trafficking and the sex trade in his country, has been presented with the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award for 2014.

The award is given for significant and effective activities to secure, protect, restore or preserve human rights as stated in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other declarations on human rights. The award presentation was made by the BWA General Council, which convened during the Annual Gathering of the global umbrella organization for Baptists in Izmir, Turkey, from July 6-12.

Coada established the Bethania Christian Relief Association to manage and run his various projects, opened a shelter for vulnerable girls, many fresh out of orphanages, to reside and to continue their education, and founded a community and children's center that offers after-school and summer programs, including tutoring, to more than 500 children.

He began an elder-care program on the compound of the children's center so elders can share meals and fellowship with children as adopted grandparents, instituted scholarships that enable girls at risk to attend vocational school and university, and developed greenhouses and other small businesses that offer employment to girls and women.

"We know that our entire ministry belongs to God," Coada said upon receiving the award. "I only knew that I wanted to serve my Lord. He gave me a wife that supports me in what I do and a wonderful team to work with."

A citation read at the presentation described Coada as "a man of wisdom, wit, courage and transparency" and "an inspiration to other human rights advocates, workers and activists." He was lauded for his "exemplary pioneering and sacrificial ministry securing and protecting the rights and freedom of children in Moldova."

He "risked everything to follow the voice of the One who loves and saved him" and "saved countless children from the worst kinds of sex slavery," the BWA citation read. He engaged in his various ministries "despite threats on his life and person from sex traffickers."

In addition to his advocacy and programmatic activities against human trafficking and the sex trade, Coada is a pastor who has planted a number of Baptist churches. He "preaches and lives the Word authentically," according to the BWA.

Moldova is a former republic of the Soviet Union and gained its independence in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet state. During the communist era, prior to becoming a pastor, Coada "surrendered career and other opportunities ... to retain authentic Christian commitment, refusing to renounce his faith," the BWA observed.

Baptist World Alliance®
© July 9, 2014

South African to become president of global Baptist body in 2015

Paul Msiza, BWA president elect

Ngwedla Paul Msiza of South Africa has been elected president of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA). Msiza and 12 vice presidents were elected by the BWA General Council, which convened during the Annual Gathering being held in Izmir, Turkey, From July 6-12.

Msiza, 53, will take office at the conclusion of the 21st Baptist World Congress in Durban in July next year, succeeding John Upton of the United States. He is the second African elected to the BWA presidency. William Tolbert of Liberia was BWA president from 1965-1970. Tolbert served as president of his country from 1971 until his assassination during a military coup in 1980.

A BWA vice president, Msiza has been actively involved in the BWA since 2000. He sits on the General Council, the Executive Committee, the Nominations Committee, the Congress Committee, the Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection Advisory Committee and the Promotion and Development Advisory Committee.

Previously, he served on the BWA Membership Committee, the Commission on Doctrine and Interchurch Cooperation and the Academic and Theological Education Workgroup.

Msiza was president of the All Africa Baptist Fellowship, one of six regional fellowships of the BWA, from 2006-2011 and general secretary of the Baptist Convention of South Africa (BCSA) from 2001-2010.

He is chair of the Local Arrangements Committee for next year’s Baptist World Congress. The congress, the first of which was held in 1905, is normally held every five years and is the largest international gathering for Baptists. It marks the transition of the BWA presidency. The 21st congress in Durban will be the first in Africa.

Msiza was trained at the Hebron Teacher Training College and worked bi-vocationally as a pastor and school teacher from 1988 until he became founding principal of the Baptist Convention College in 1995, from where he left to become BCSA general secretary.

He holds diplomas and degrees from the University of Witwatersrand, the University of South Africa, the Baptist Theological Seminary of Southern Africa and the Baptist Bible Institute.

He pastors Peniel-Salem Baptist Church in Pretoria beginning in 2011.

He has been married to Sanna Mapula since 1986 and they have three sons.

The twelve vice presidents-elect are Michael Okwakol, Uganda, Ernest Adu-Gyamfi, Ghana, Tapan Chowdhury, Bangladesh, Miyon Chung, South Korea, Anslem Warrick, Trinidad and Tobago, Jules Casseus, Haiti, Dimitrina Oprenova, Bulgaria, Jan Saethre, Norway, Naomi Tyler-Lloyd and Jerry Carlisle of the United States, Jorge Quinteros, Chile, and Luiz Roberto Silvado, Brazil.

Saethre of Norway will serve as first vice president.

Baptist World Alliance®
© July 11, 2014

Mission opportunities during global Baptist meeting in South Africa

Baptists attending the 21st Baptist World Congress in South Africa in July 2015 will have the opportunity to participate in mission projects in South Africa and other countries in Southern Africa.

The Baptist World Alliance does not organize or arrange mission projects. These are made between partners. However, the BWA may facilitate such partnerships through the provision of contact information.

There are four broad options available.

The first option is in evangelism and outreach  such as personal evangelism, door to door outreach, literature distribution, open air preaching, evangelistic crusades, prayer walking, showing the Jesus Film, Vacation Bible Schools and sports outreach.

Persons may contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The second option is compassionate ministry that includes visits to orphanages of children affected by HIV and Aids, children's homes, shelters for battered women, night Shelters, hospitals and schools; talks on substance abuse and counseling in drug and alcohol abuse; as well as involvement in feeding schemes, soup kitchens, etc.

Contact may be made with This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

A third option is in theological education to conduct special lectures or seminars at theological institutions and bible schools. Resumes need to be submitted at least six months before the appointed dates. Lecture time may vary from one day to three days.

Enquiries may be sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The fourth option is in building and artisanal activities such as construction, plumbing, painting and decorating.

Information may be sought from This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Several projects are listed on the BWA website at www.bwanet.org/congress where contact may be made directly with the project location.

The BWA also lists mission projects that groups plan independently. Mission project information may be sent to, or received, by writing to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The BWA encourages groups participating in mission projects to share this information with the BWA.

Baptist World Alliance®
© July 3, 2014