Preparations in high gear for 2015 congress

The Baptist World Alliance® (BWA) has signed two major contracts in preparation for the 21st Baptist World Congress in South Africa in 2015.

The Congress Committee, which met as part of the BWA Annual Gathering in Santiago, Chile, received reports that contracts have been signed with the International Convention Centre in Durban and a destination manager. Most of the meetings will be held at the convention center.

The destination manager will help to coordinate housing for the thousands of Baptists that are expected to attend the world congress, and will cover all liabilities related to housing, except for persons who choose "home stays" with fellow Baptists. Home stays are being coordinated by the Local Arrangements Committee (LAC), which assists the BWA in making local preparations.

The LAC comprises nominees from the four Baptist groups in South Africa that hold membership within the BWA, the Baptist Association of South Africa, the Baptist Convention of South Africa, the Baptist Mission of South Africa, and the Baptist Union of Southern Africa.

Emmett Dunn, the BWA staff person who coordinates plans for major meetings, also touted the new conference registration system instituted by the BWA.  The registration system allows persons to do online registration and is currently in use for other meetings, including the Annual Gathering in Chile and the Baptist Youth World Conference in Singapore in July next year.  The system will be the major means by which persons will register for the congress, which will be held July 22-26, 2015.

The Congress Committee will propose a theme to the BWA Executive Committee for its approval when it meets during the Annual Gathering, which is from July 2-7 in the Chilean capital. The adoption of the theme will enable the BWA to choose congress topics, design a suitable congress logo, and assign resource persons for the congress.

BWA President John Upton highlighted the importance of the Baptist World Congress in the life of Baptists around the world. "If you want to create a mess, forget who you are," Upton told members of the Congress Committee. "Many Baptists are forgetting who we are. The World Congress enables us to remember who we are and we hear it with this global voice. The BWA has done it beautifully for 105-plus years."

A number of other events will be planned around the Baptist World Congress, including pre-congress events such as the International Women's Conference, and post-congress activities such as mission trips in South Africa and other countries on the African continent.

Baptist World Alliance®

© July 1, 2012

BWA launches interactive website

The Baptist World Alliance® has launched its second website within a month.

Bwalive.org is an interactive website where the public determines much of the content. According to the welcome page, "all persons... are encouraged to share your news, views, comments and opinions, as well as appropriate videos and photographs."

Included on the site are areas for video sharing, as well as a blog where persons may post their own views, comments and concerns.

Visitors to the site will learn about certain initiatives of the BWA, or causes or ministries supported by the BWA. Viewers will also be asked to show their support for these initiatives or ministries through various means, whether through giving, petition signing, representation to their government or other relevant actors, or through other means.

Visitors to the site may also propose initiatives that they would like the wider Baptist constituency to be aware of and support.

All videos, photos, comments and ideas that are submitted will be vetted by administrators of the website and are subject to approval.  Those that are contrary to the values and aims of the BWA, or that are plagiarizing, abusive, and in any other way deemed unsuitable or inappropriate, will not be approved.

The BWA launched its newly redesigned and reconfigured main website in the month of May (www.bwanet.org) with a new interface and added features. The international Baptist organization also launched a new mobile app that persons may download on to their Apple or Android devices.

The new interactive website can be seen at www.bwalive.org or linked directly from the main BWA website by clicking the "In Step with the Spirit" tab.

Baptist World Alliance®

© June 28, 2012

Baptists prepare for global meeting in Chile

Baptists from across the world are preparing to attend the Baptist World Alliance® (BWA) Annual Gathering in Santiago, Chile, from July 2-7.

The gathering includes times for worship, fellowship, theological reflection, and decision making.

The two governing bodies, the General Council and the Executive Committee, will receive reports and consider recommendations and resolutions, including on membership within the organization, program activities, and preparations for the Baptist Youth World Conference to be held in Singapore in July 2013 and the Baptist World Congress in Durban, South Africa, in 2015.

There will be two forums. The first will be on Technology and Ministry and will explore the role of technology in worship, fellowship, and social ministry such as the use and role of the Internet, mobile technologies, and social media.

A second forum will focus on response to disasters and will draw on the experience of Chileans in the aftermath of the deadly 8.8 earthquake and tsunami that affected the South American country on February 27, 2010.

The Denominational Leaders Network will convene along with other affinity groups. Affinity groups are a gathering of persons sharing similar vocations or engaging in similar ministry endeavors. These include Baptists in higher education, pastors, as well as missioners and mission leaders.

Persons from the six regions of the BWA – Africa, Asia Pacific, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and North America – will also come together for times of fellowship, sharing and planning.

Theological papers and discourses will form the bulk of the activities of the commissions of the BWA. Topics to be discussed include The History of Baptists in Chile, Evangelical Hymnody in Latin America, and Mapping a 21st Century Global Baptist Identity. There will also be a discussion titled Issues in Theological Education Around the World, and consideration of The Nature and Mission of the Church, a document produced by the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches.

BWA General Secretary Neville Callam has praised Chilean Baptist leaders for "the cooperation they have given in the preparations for the Gathering." He anticipates that "it will be a memorable encounter of world Baptists with Latin American Baptist spirituality."

More than 260 Baptist leaders and delegates from some 40 countries have registered for the Annual Gathering, which also includes times of worship and fellowship with Baptists in Chile.

Baptist World Alliance®

© June 21, 2012

Latin American youth conference convenes in Chile

A conference for Latin American Baptist youth leaders is being held in Santiago, Chile, from June 29 to July 1.

Sponsored by the Baptist World Alliance®, the conference will focus on resource and information sharing, leadership development, and on mission. Among issues to be explored are youth in crisis, evangelism and social media, and the goals and values of youth ministry.

The BWA will use the opportunity to urge these young leaders to encourage their peers to attend the 16th Baptist Youth World Conference that is to be held in Singapore from July 17-21, 2013.

At least 30 Baptist youth leaders from several countries are expected, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela, and elsewhere.

Presenters include BWA Youth Director Emmett Dunn, Dean Miller of the Virginia Baptist Mission Board in the United States, and Dale Stairs of the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches in Canada.

The youth conference immediately precedes the BWA Annual Gathering which is being held in Santiago from July 2-7.

Baptist World Alliance®

© June 26, 2012

BWA to participate in UN conference in Rio

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) is the lead organizer of a "side event" that takes place during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from June 20-22.

Also known as Rio+20, UNCSD is being held to mark the 20th Anniversary after the 1992 Earth Summit last held in Rio de Janeiro. The 1992 conference placed sustainable development as a priority on the agenda of the UN and the international community; whereas Rio +20 will focus on how to use sustainable development to create a long term structure for systemic changes in "economic development, social development and environmental protection."

The BWA, along with cosponsors that include the World Methodist Council, the World Council of Churches, Church World Service, and the Global Fund for Education Development, will host meetings that examine the roles of religious and educational institutions in addressing issues of sustainability; the impact of religious and educational institutions on the global agenda for sustainability; and the resources that religious and educational practices offer to an understanding of a "green society."

BWA Director of Freedom and Justice Raimundo Barreto and Mark Greenwood of BMS World Mission, the Baptist mission agency, who is currently stationed in Brazil, will address the side event.

"By discussing how religion and educational groups promote ethical values and contribute to environmental action and sustainable practices, this event will shed light on a key strategic issue for Rio+20 UN Conference," the sponsors state. The faith-based and educational sponsors see the side event as necessary because "discussions on sustainability are shifting from political, economic, and scientific discourses to social, cultural, and spiritual considerations." This shift, the organizers claimed, is "due to fundamental ethical questions that emerged at the intersection between religion and education," but which are "often disregarded in global discussions."

The BWA, which is also co-sponsoring an event that examines the roles of UN conferences in the democratization of international relations, has been preparing for Rio+20 since March 2011. The BWA participated in discussions with other NGOs that helped to generate Zero Draft, a document with the objective of providing guidance to UN member states that will draft the final document coming out of Rio+20.

Rio+20 has three broad objectives: securing renewed political commitment to sustainable development, assessing the progress and implementation gaps in meeting already agreed commitments, and addressing new and emerging challenges. Themes to be examined are a green economy within the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and an institutional framework for sustainable development.

© Baptist World Alliance
June 15, 2012