BWA welcomes change in US-Cuba relationship

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) has welcomed the announced changes in the relationship between the United States (US) and Cuba.

Both US President Barrack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced the easing of tensions and the establishment of diplomatic ties on December 17.

The BWA has long advocated for a change in US-Cuban relationships. It had its annual meeting in Havana in 2000. Most recently, in July 2013 in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, the BWA General Council passed a resolution asking the US government to lift its long standing embargo and other restrictions on Cuba.

 

 
The resolution urged "the US government to end the embargo of Cuba and re-establish formal diplomatic relations with the Cuban government" and to "lift all remaining restrictions on travel to Cuba by US citizens." It stated that both governments need to "set in place a process for negotiating legitimate bilateral grievances."

Essentially asserting that the embargo is irrelevant, the Council, which comprises Baptist leaders from around the world, said "more than two decades have passed since the end of the Cold War, and that most manifestations of that struggle have been ameliorated or abolished, except for the continuing United States embargo against Cuba begun in 1960."

The embargo, the resolution claims, serves no useful purpose. "The interests of neither nation – nor those of the international family of nations – are served by the status quo." Rather, "the lifting of the embargo will improve living conditions for Cubans and provide greater opportunities for commerce, education, and travel."

In the 2000 meeting in Havana, the BWA noted "the pain and suffering endured by innocent persons as a result of the imposition of international economic sanctions" and called upon the governments "to remove economic sanctions relating to food and medicines and so contribute to human well-being." The governments were urged "to reconsider the appropriateness of the use of economic sanctions in the effort to encourage changes in political situations."

BWA General Secretary Neville Callam said, "On behalf of the Baptist World Alliance, and in light of the position consistently taken by the BWA on the Cuban embargo throughout the years, I enthusiastically welcome the decision to begin to normalize US-Cuba relations. The people of Cuba, including the large Christian community there, stand to benefit from this development that represents a contribution to human flourishing."


Cuba has one of the fastest growing Christian communities in the Caribbean. The BWA has four member organizations on the Caribbean island with a total of more than 60,000 members in approximately 900 churches.

Baptist World Alliance®
© December 19, 2014

Baptists prepare Green Plan for South African congress

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) has prepared a Green Plan to guide its environmental practices before and during the 21st Baptist World Congress to be held in Durban, South Africa, from July 22-26, 2015.

In a July 2012 resolution passed by the BWA General Council in Santiago, Chile, the BWA was encouraged "to develop an equitable plan to offset the carbon footprint of the Annual Gathering and to recommend ways to reduce the carbon footprint of all Baptist World Alliance business meetings."

Also, the international umbrella organization for Baptists aims to adhere to the standards outlined in the Green Event Guideline: Hosting Green Events in Durban, in order to integrate sustainability practices before, during and after the congress. These include waste minimization, environmental efficiency, water conservation, social development and local economic development.

Main elements of the BWA plan include recycling, transportation and digital technology.

Name badges and lanyards (the rope or cord that comes with the name badge) issued during the congress will be collected at the end of the event and recycled. At the conclusion of the congress, receptacles will be provided for those who wish to recycle the thousands of program and report books that are being produced for the event.

Monetary and environmental costs of shipping will be reduced by the BWA by printing most of the congress materials, including the program and report books, as well as brochures, in South Africa.   Transportation such as shipping by air or sea is generally regarded as one of the biggest causes of carbon emissions.

The BWA is exploring the possibility of providing bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation for conference participants to use from the venue to their accommodations.

The chief means of registration for the South African meetings is online through the BWA website at www.bwanet.org/congress. This results in reducing the use of paper and mailing. The program and report books will be available digitally in eBook and pdf formats in an attempt to reduce the number of printed copies.

The BWA is forgoing the printing of a daily newspaper as has been the custom in past congresses and will instead rely more heavily on the use of social media and electronic press releases to provide updates and inform participants attending the meetings. There will be simultaneous updates on the BWA Twitter account using #BaptistCongress15 as well as posting to its Facebook group page.

Persons are encouraged to start following the BWA Twitter handle @TheBWA and to utilize the hashtag #BaptistCongress15 when they share their own plans for the congress.

In addition, the BWA will take advantage of opportunities offered by the convention center, such as the use of biodegradable cutlery and food containers in its dining areas; move away from using tablecloths; and using tap water-filled jugs and water dispensers instead of bottled water.

Early bird registration at discounted rates for the congress ends on November 30, 2014. To take advantage of this discount, register at www.bwanet.org/congress.

Baptist World Alliance®
© November 25, 2014

Early bird registration for Baptist congress ends November 30

The early bird discount for the 21st Baptist World Congress in Durban, South Africa, from July 22-26, 2015, ends on November 30. Standard registration fees will apply after that date.

Registration is best done on the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) website at www.bwanet.org/congress.

Persons from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States and Western Europe will pay US$200 until November 30 and US$250 after that date.

Registrants from other countries in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Central Europe and Eastern Europe, will pay US$150 until November 30 and US$200 thereafter.

 

South African residents will pay a set fee of US$100 regardless of the time of registration, as will youth ages 12-18 who will pay US$50 and children from 5-11 years old, US$25.

Online registration closes on July 10, 2015.

An invitation letter for visa purposes will be generated when online registration is complete.

All persons attending the congress must register. Registration will not take effect unless the applicable fee is paid.

Application and other information, including alternatives to online registration, is available on the BWA website.

Baptist World Alliance®
© November 19, 2014

Baptist World Alliance honored as 2014 top-rated nonprofit

GreatNonprofits.org Award based on positive online reviews

The Baptist World Alliance has been honored with a prestigious 2014 op-Rated Award by GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews about nonprofit organizations.

The Top-Rated Nonprofit award was based on the large number of positive reviews that BWA received – reviews written by volunteers, donors and clients. People posted their personal experience with the nonprofit.

One person wrote, "The Baptist World Alliance helps to keep the public informed of the tremendous needs that exist among people around the world. I've been aware of their work for some 30 plus years and I have found that their efforts to bring about unity among people so that human efforts to assist others can be more effective have been both inspiring and encouraging."

While the Top-Rated Awards run through the end of October, the BWA was part of the inaugural group to qualify for the year. In addition, the BWA has been added to GreatNonprofits #GivingTuesday Guide -- an interactive guide to top nonprofits throughout the years. This will appear during the upcoming holiday season.

"Savvy donors want to see the impact of their donations more than ever," said Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits, "People with direct experience with BWA have voted that the organization is making a real difference."

Being on the Top-Rated list gives donors and volunteers more confidence that this is a credible organization. The reviews by volunteers, clients and other donors show the on-the-ground results of this nonprofit. This award is a form of recognition by the community.

GreatNonprofits is the leading site for donors and volunteers to find reviews and ratings of nonprofits. Reviews on the site influence 30 million donation decisions a year. Visit http://bit.ly/1viasp4  to read the other reviews left for the BWA and leave a personal review.

Baptist World Alliance®
© November 21, 2014

Nominations being received for 2015 international human rights award

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) is now accepting nominations for the Congress Quinquennial Human Rights Award to be presented during the 21st Baptist World Congress in Durban, South Africa, in July 2015.

This lifetime achievement award is given to an individual who has shown significant accomplishments in global advocacy for human rights and the pursuit of social justice and peace within the local, national or the wider global community.

The nomination form and its instructions are    available on the BWA website at www.bwanet.org.

Persons shall not make nominations on their own behalf. Current employees of the BWA and participating judges shall not make nominations or be award candidates.

Past award winners were 2010, Denton Lotz, former BWA general secretary for a lifetime commitment to global human rights concerns; 2005, Lauran Bethell of American Baptist Churches USA for her work with exploited women and children in Thailand; 2000, Saw Simon from Myanmar, for work in the refugee camps in Northern Thailand; and 1995, former United States President Jimmy Carter, for commitment to human rights causes around the globe.

Deadline for submission is January 16, 2015. Applications submitted after the deadline date will not be processed.

Baptist World Alliance®
© November 5, 2014