Former BWA director honored

Tony Cupit, former director of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) divisions of Evangelism and Education and Study and Research (both now merged into the division of Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection), was conferred with an honorary doctorate by the John Leland Center for Theological Studies.

Described by Leland as "among the great international figures in Baptist life today," Cupit, an Australian, was keynote speaker at the June 9 graduation ceremony for the class of 2012. He was honored "for his extraordinary leadership in ministry over some forty plus years."

The citation praised Cupit as a pastor, missionary, Bible translator, author, church executive and international Baptist leader whose ministry exemplified the model of transformational leadership in global ministry.

Cupit was BWA director from 1991 to 2005. Prior to that, he served the  Australian and international Baptist communities in a number of capacities, including as a missionary to Papua New Guinea where, among other things, he and wife Margaret played leading roles in translating Christian scripture into the indigenous language.

In his address, Cupit recounted the sacrificial discipleship of Christians in various parts of the world, past and present, including Baptists. He told the gathering that "the church in the world, including its Baptist expression, continues to be a martyr church." Recounting past and recent episodes of martyrdom and persecution, he said "if taking up a cross is metaphorical for us, let us always remember it is a reality for our brothers and sisters in Christ in different places throughout the world."

Cupit explained that "Jesus connected his messiahship with suffering and death" which, at first, "was incomprehensible to the disciples." He encouraged the graduates to "take up Jesus' cross," asserting that "the easy way is not the way of Jesus" because Jesus offered his followers a "life of denial, hardship and sacrifice."

Twenty persons graduated from the Leland Center. The theological school traces its origins to a meeting of the General Council of the BWA in Prince Edward Island, Canada, in 2001. A group of five attendees, some invited by Cupit, agreed to the idea of setting up a theological college in the Washington Metropolitan Area.

Leland participates in the Washington Theological Consortium (WTC), a group of 17 seminaries and related institutions in the Washington, DC region that allows for inter-faculty collaboration, ecumenical dialogue, and shared resources. Students attending the Leland Center may choose from among 300 different course offerings within the consortium, while students and faculty alike have access to more than two million volumes available through WTC libraries.

Leland's main campus is located in Arlington in Northern Virginia, a suburb of Washington, DC, with satellite locations elsewhere in Virginia.

© Baptist World Alliance
June 12, 2012