BWA urges action on Nigerian crisis and climate change

The Baptist World Alliance® (BWA) has made an appeal for the crisis in Nigeria to come to an end.

In a resolution passed by the General Council, the international Baptist organization denounced the levels of violence in the West African country caused by Muslim extremists and noted "that these horrendous acts of inhumanity in Nigeria have promoted fear to freely worship and assemble."

The BWA cautions the Nigerian government that it needs "to ensure safety and security for all people in Nigeria," and urged "Baptists around the world to raise these concerns with their governments, religious leaders and persons of influence."

Boko Haram, a jihadist group that seeks to establish shariah law in Nigeria, has carried out a series of bombings against Christian churches and government facilities such as police stations. By early 2012, the group was responsible for more than 900 deaths. In the most recent incidents since June, the group claimed to be responsible for the suicide bombings of several churches in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna, killing more than 50 people.

In a specific appeal to Baptists in the most populous country in Africa, the BWA is "encouraging our Baptist sisters and brothers to continue to seek ways to promote peace and respect for all persons in Nigeria."

The Nigerian Baptist Convention is one of the largest Baptist groups in the world, comprising more than 2.5 million members in more than 9,300 churches. The Mambilla Baptist Convention has approximately 23,000 members in more than 250 churches.

In a resolution on climate change, Baptists are being encouraged to teach and model creation care, identify "simple and practical means" to incorporate an ecologically responsible lifestyle, and to support "the framework for action" that came out of the recent United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Rio conference, held June 13-22 and in which the BWA participated, issued a document, The Future We Want, which seeks to achieve certain environmental goals at the international, national, regional and local levels.

The BWA confesses that though Baptists like other Christian traditions believe and affirm that the earth is created by God and that the Bible teaches care and respect for that creation, humans "have not always been faithful stewards of God's creation owing to ignorance, neglect, arrogance and greed... and have often exploited, consumed and abused creation for selfish advantage." It notes the "lack of progress toward a global consensus on the urgent need to reduce human contribution to climate change that is having dramatic impact on God's creation," which has special impact on the poor who "are most affected by climate change and are least able to adapt."

The BWA says there is need for increasing commitment by Baptist churches, conventions and unions "to act as agents of change and reconciliation with God's creation."

The General Council forms part of the Annual Gathering that met in Santiago, Chile, from July 2-7.

Baptist World Alliance®

© July 8, 2012