Former BWA President Duke McCall has died

Duke McCall, president of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) from 1980-1985, died on April 2 in the state of Florida in the United States. He was 98 years old.

McCall attended his first BWA event as a 16 year old in 1931, the Baptist Youth World Conference in Prague, Czechoslovakia (Now in the Czech Republic). After his election to the BWA Executive Committee in 1947, he held a number of other positions within the international body over the next several decades. He served as a member of the General Council, the Commission on Freedom, Justice and Peace and co-chaired the Commission on Baptist Doctrine. McCall participated in nomination committees and committees charged with reviewing the BWA constitution.

BWA President John Upton said "Dr. McCall was a big influence on my life as a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary while he was president. He was a true Baptist statesman, a world leader and a scholar.  His influence will be long lasting.  We are grateful for his leadership and friendship in the BWA."

 

"I was among those who elected Duke McCall as BWA president at the 15th Baptist World Congress in Los Angeles in 1980," said BWA General Secretary Neville Callam. "Soon after my election as BWA general secretary, I had the rich fortune of a memorable meeting with him during BWA celebrations in Atlanta, Georgia, in October 2007."

Callam stated that "as BWA general secretary, I have had good reason, again and again, to review McCall's addresses to the BWA Executive Committee and General Council. I have benefited from the expansiveness of his vision of the BWA mission, the depth of his appreciation for the extensiveness of BWA's potential reach, and the deep commitment that marked his engagement to help BWA secure the physical infrastructure to support its ongoing ministry."

Several significant developments occurred during McCall's BWA presidency. He supported the internationalization of the organization, which had started in earnest in the 1970s. He endorsed the formation of and inclusion of regional bodies within the global organization, including the All Africa Baptist Fellowship and the Union of Baptists in Latin America, which gained formal recognition during McCall's tenure.

McCall strongly advocated that the BWA provide travel scholarships to facilitate the attendance and participation of Baptist leaders from around the world at its gatherings and meetings. The decision to create such a fund was formalized in 1985.

The first Baptist International Conference on Theological Education, which is normally held every five years, was convened in the state of North Carolina in the United States in 1982.

It was during McCall's presidency that a search began for more suitable offices for the BWA. A new headquarters building was purchased in McLean, Virginia, and dedicated in 1985, moving from its location in the heart of Washington, DC. The BWA moved to its present location in Falls Church, Virginia, in 2001.

McCall was a major figure of note among Baptists in the United States. He was president of the Baptist Bible Institute of New Orleans, now known as New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 1943 and became executive secretary-treasurer of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1946.

He served as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the state of Kentucky from 1951 to 1982, during which time the student body grew from 800 to more than 2,000 students. Soon after becoming president, McCall integrated the seminary's classrooms in defiance of Kentucky's segregationist state law. At the height of the civil rights movement, McCall invited Martin Luther King Jr. to speak on campus.

He holds degrees from Furman University in South Carolina and Southern Seminary and is the recipient of several honorary doctoral degrees.

Callam said the BWA had plans to honor McCall. "What was intended as a surprise event is actually being planned for the upcoming BWA Annual Gathering in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, in July. It is a Joint Session being organized by the BWA Commission on Theological Education and Leadership Formation and the Commission on Ministry, where we are planning to celebrate the outstanding contribution of Duke Kimbrough McCall."

Despite McCall's passing, the BWA leader indicated that "the Joint Session will still be held, but in circumstances not as auspicious as earlier anticipated. Baptists around the world have lost a wonderful brother, a valiant witness and a disciple of Christ who was faithful to the end."

McCall is survived by wife, Winona, and sons Duke Jr., Douglas, John, and Michael. He was predeceased by his first wife, Marguerite, in 1983.

Easter Message 2013

Thanks be to God!

In the land of the living, the night of encircling gloom comes; it comes to everyone. No depth of commitment, no height of obedience can prevent the onset of that night in human experience.

And when that night comes, feeling afraid, we may draw near places of despair. This happens when we allow ourselves to dwell only in that moment, to live as captives of that moment, and we fail to scale the horizons of the dark to see the promise of the emerging dawn of God's deliverance.

Thick darkness can never remove the gracious hand of God. It may threaten to hide that hand, to remove it entirely from sight; but it can never obliterate it. And even while we dwell in the realm of darkness, the promise of God's liberating light can fill our hearts with the nearness of the day of victory.

Let us be careful to appreciate that the Cross of Jesus is not merely a sign of pain and suffering occasioned by sin because in it is the guarantee of victory. Because Jesus is lifted up, he draws all humankind to himself. In the arc of history, the Cross does not exist apart from the resurrection. Joy is possible in the midst of pain because Jesus is our joy. The sadness of Good Friday can subsist only where the joy of Easter is forgotten.

Soon, Easter morning comes. Full-orbed light displaces the darkness of Good Friday.  What was only partly visible in the dark night of pain and disappointment now glows at the dawn of renewal. Hope springs anew; courage rises from bowels of fear for Jesus is risen! The solemn purposes of God come into fuller view. "Death is crushed to death" in order that we might enjoy the risen life of the Son of God!

This Easter day, Christians are not deceived by the darkness that threatens to trap us in a web of negativity and hopelessness. We see the power of evil even where people desperately search for signs of the victory of the good and the right.  Swarming doubt and unbelief are taking hold of the human heart, filling us with a sense of the futility of life. Yet, while darkness hovers, we are not overwhelmed because, by the grace of God, we are able to escape the crippling numbness despairing times produce.

On Easter day, we affirm that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. Thanks be to God!

Neville Callam
General Secretary

Baptist World Alliance®
© March 26, 2013

BWA congratulates Pope Francis; will attend inauguration

Leaders of the Baptist World Alliance® (BWA), representing  42 million Baptists in 227 member organizations in 121 countries, offered congratulations to Pope Francis who was elected the 266th head of the Catholic Church on March 13.

The election of Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, by the Papal conclave, came after the resignation of Benedict XVI in February. He is the first Latin American and first Jesuit to be elected pope.

BWA President John Upton said, "The BWA celebrates with the Catholic Church the announcement of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis.  The prayerful discernment process of the Catholic Church in selecting the pope has been a comfort to us all," Upton stated. "Pope Francis will have our prayers as he begins his responsibilities."

General Secretary Neville Callam said, "The Baptist World Alliance welcomes the election of Cardinal Bergoglio as Pope Francis. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, the former cardinal's commitment to the proclamation of the Gospel, his record of solidarity with victims of social injustice, his affirmation of the value of a simple lifestyle and his exemplary humility has provided much encouragement to the community of believers in Christ."

Callam indicated that the new pope "will be accompanied by the prayers of the members of the world Baptist family, who also anticipate the pope's positive contribution to the realization of the vision of the church reflected in the High Priestly prayer of our Lord."

Upton will represent the BWA at the inauguration of Pope Francis on March 19 at the Vatican. Callam, who has a prior engagement in India, is unable to take up the official invitation from the Vatican to attend.

Baptist World Alliance®
© March 14, 2013

A mission-focused youth conference

Youth attending the 16th Baptist Youth World Conference in Singapore from July 17-21 will have a number of mission opportunities.

Participants at the conference are being asked to make monetary or in-kind donations toward school kits for refugee children in Thailand. There are an estimated 31,000 school children from Myanmar living in seven refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border.

People living inside the refugee camps are prohibited by the government of Thailand from seeking employment outside the camps and are dependent on donations for their daily necessities.  The kits will be used to help meet the educational needs of refugee children, most displaced by wars, conflicts and disasters.

Youth can make a monetary donation of US$10 to purchase a hand woven, environmentally friendly school bag made by women in the refugee camps, plus school materials such as pencils, sharpeners, crayons and rulers; US$15 to purchase one school kit filled with school supplies, US$75 to purchase five school kits, or US$150 for 10 school kits.

Youth groups traveling to Singapore are asked to indicate how many kits each group can contribute.  The overall goal is to donate a minimum of 1,000 school kits.

The school kit project is sponsored by Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the Baptist World Alliance® (BWA). Additional information on the school kit project can be obtained by writing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Youth have other opportunities for mission during the conference. The BWA has partnered with Stop Hunger Now to fill two 20ft containers of pre-packaged meals for distribution in Asia.

Stop Hunger Now is an international hunger relief organization that coordinates the distribution of food and other life-saving aid around the world. Its meal packaging program provides volunteers the opportunity to package dehydrated, high protein, and highly nutritious meals that are used primarily to support development programs and to save lives in developing countries.

It is estimated that in order to fill these containers, the BWA will require 2,000 volunteers during the youth conference, working two shifts of four hours each. If successful, these containers will carry 285,120 meals. The BWA has secured US$45,000 in funding for one container with the hope that additional funds will be forthcoming to fill a second container.

Participants attending the youth conference will have other mission opportunities in Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand and other Asian countries leading up to, or following the conference.

For further information on mission opportunities, contact the BWA Youth Department at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Registration for the Baptist Youth World Conference   and other information is available at www.bwanet.org.

American professor to receive international Baptist human rights award

Glen Stassen, an American theologian, ethicist and author, is the recipient of the 2013 Baptist World Alliance® (BWA) Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award.

Stassen's nomination was confirmed at a meeting of the BWA Executive Committee on March 5 at its international offices in Falls Church, Virginia, a suburb of the United States capital of Washington, DC.

The writings of Stassen, the Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, in the United States, have influenced the international peace movement for more than three decades. He is known for his work on theological ethics, politics, social justice, and developing the Just Peacemaking theory in ethics in dealing with matters of war and conflict.

His books include Journey into Peacemaking, released in 1982; Just Peacemaking: Transforming Initiatives for Justice and Peace, published in 1992; Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War, which came out in 1998 and for which he served as editor; Peace Action: Past, Present, and Future, which he edited along with Lawrence Wittner, released in 2007; and an edited work, Just Peacemaking: The New Paradigm for the Ethics of Peace and War, published in 2008.

His and David Gushee's book, Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context was awarded Best Book of the Year in the Theology/Ethics category by Christianity Today magazine in 2004.

Stassen has worked to help found several organizations for peacemaking, operated behind the scenes to negotiate the removal of short and middle range nuclear weapons from Europe, testified at capital punishment cases, developed a strategy for defense attorneys in capital cases, and engaged in human rights advocacy for the mentally disabled.

He has assisted with nonviolent human rights and peace movements in East Germany, Kazakhstan and South Korea and in regions such as Central America, Eastern Europe and Southern Africa. He was present when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.

Secular and theological groups have used Stassen as an advisor on issues of reconciliation and peacemaking. He is currently a member of the BWA Commission on Peace, president of the Council of the Societies for the Study of Religion and is a former president of the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion. He has held a number of positions in the American Academy of Religion (AAR), including chair of the Religion and Political Science subsection and the Religious Social Ethics Group. He also co-chaired the Biblical/Contextual Ethics Group and Religion and the Social Sciences Section of the AAR.

Stassen served as the president of the Pacific Coast Section of the Society of Christian Ethics (SCE) and represented the SCE on the Council on the Study of Religion. He co-chaired the Strategy Committee of the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign in the 1980s. For almost 20 years, he co-chaired the Arms Race and International Conflict Committee of the Louisville Area Council on Peacemaking.

Since 1999, Stassen has been a member of the Board of Editorial Advisors for both Sojourners magazine and Creation Care magazine. He is a former board member of Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America and the Abbey of Gethsemane Center for Ethics; as well as a member of the Peacemaking Study Group of the National Council of Churches Apostolic Faith Commission.

Stassen was heavily influenced by his father, Harold Stassen, president of the American Baptist Convention (now American Baptist Churches USA) in the 1960s, governor of the state of Minnesota from 1939-1943 and a contender for the US presidency in the 1940s. Harold Stassen helped draft the charter establishing the United Nations in 1945 and joined the 1963 march on Washington led by Martin Luther King Jr.

Glen Stassen earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in physics from the University of Virginia, a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City and a PhD from Duke University in North Carolina. He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University, Duke University, Columbia University, and the University of Heidelberg in Germany. He is a visiting professor at the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Prague, Czech Republic, and taught for 20 years at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award will be presented during the BWA Annual Gathering in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, from July 1-6, 2013.

Baptist World Alliance®
© March 5, 2013