Nominations for human rights award extended

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) has extended the deadline for nominations for the 2017 Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award. Nominations will close on January 20, 2017.

Any Baptist individual, church or organization can submit a nomination, and any Baptist is eligible to receive the award.

The award is intended to recognize and give visibility to men and women who have done outstanding work in defending and promoting human rights as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Persons may not make nominations on their own behalf.

The awardee will be announced at the March 2017 BWA Executive Committee meeting and the award presented during the Annual Gathering in July 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The nominations form may be downloaded here on the BWA website.

Baptist World Alliance®
© December 16, 2016

BWA podcast focuses on the lonely

The third in a series of podcasts by the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) encourages churches to be aware of and sensitive to the needs of those for whom Christmas can be particularly lonely and difficult.

It is recognized that Christmas can be the “loneliest time of the year” in addition to being the “happiest time of the year.”

Loneliness can stem from loss, those who mourn the passing of a loved one, or it can be those who struggle alone without making meaningful connections.

The podcast, hosted by Trisha Miller Manarin, coordinator of the BWA Division on Mission, Evangelism and Justice, comprises an interview with Julie Pennington-Russell and Jerry Young, two pastors in the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Area in the United States.

Pennington-Russell and Young share how the worship experience can be a source of comfort to the lonely.

The podcast can be listened to here.

Baptist World Alliance®
© December 13, 2016

Baptists observe Human Rights Day in December

The Baptist World Alliance and its constituents will observe Human Rights Day on December 10 for Baptists who worship on Saturday, or December 11 for those worshiping on Sunday.

Human Rights Day is a commemoration of the day on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of human rights on December 10, 1948.

During this years’ celebration, Baptists are encouraged to “Stand up for someone’s rights today,” this year’s Human Rights Day theme, by being living witnesses of Proverbs 31:8-9: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

The intention is to have the greatest amount of Baptists worldwide observing Human Rights Day as part of the Advent celebration. Baptist churches and institutions are encouraged to incorporate one or more of the worship resources located on our website at There you will also find the latest podcast from the Division on Mission, Evangelism and Justice, which discusses Human Rights Day, as well as BWA’s presence and ministry at the United Nations.

Congregations are encouraged to share their Human Rights Day experiences on the BWA Facebook group page, on Twitter using the handle @TheBWA, or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Baptist World Alliance®
©December 5, 2016

Worldwide Baptist family challenged to give

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) has issued a challenge to the global Baptist community to match a gift of US$50,000 from an anonymous donor.

The challenge ends December 31.

Baptists from around the world are urged to make their own individual, personal contributions.

Your gift will go twice as far because your general gift of any size will be DOUBLED in impact!

If you write a check for $50, it will be doubled to $100. If your check is for $5,000, it will be doubled to $10,000, and so on. Every gift is needed and appreciated.

Proceeds will go to the BWA General Fund.

“We deeply appreciate the gift from our generous donor and trust this will inspire Baptists from around the world to respond together,” said Kathe Traynham, BWA associate director of Promotion and Development.

“Those who contribute to the BWA will be making an important contribution to Baptist work and ministry globally and touch the lives of many in very significant ways. As always, we thank you for your support.”

Contributions may be made online at Online donors may write “Challenge Gift” in the comment box inside the donation system.

For check donations, persons should write “Challenge Gift” on the memo line. Send check to:

Baptist World Alliance
405 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046, USA

Baptist World Alliance®
© December 6, 2016

Callam gives notice of retirement from BWA

Callam and former United States President Jimmy Carter greet each otherNeville Callam has given notice of his intention to retire as general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) on December 31, 2017.

As per policy, the general secretary, the chief executive of the international umbrella organization for Baptists, should give a minimum notice of 12 months.

Callam, a Jamaican, made history when he was elected to the position in July 2007 during the BWA Annual Gathering in Accra, Ghana, as the first Black person to hold the position. Since its founding in 1905, all previous general secretaries were American or European.

He took over the BWA just when the Great Recession occurred. Working with the Budget and Finance Committee, Callam shepherded the body through the financial crisis and global economic meltdown, with minimal dislocations and impact on the operations of the BWA and its staff.


In addition, after the Implementation Task Force completed its work in 2008, there were major constitutional and operational changes within the BWA, many with potentially disruptive implications on the future of the organization that Callam had to navigate.

Under Callam’s leadership, much work was done to streamline the administration of the BWA office, giving clarity to the alignment of purpose, function and operational modalities. He worked with staff to employ relevant technology to improve BWA functions while minimizing cost, and put in place a conference management system to secure greater economic sustainability.

The divisions on Evangelism and Education and Study and Research were merged into the newly formed Division on Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection (METR).

The Division on Freedom and Justice (F&J) was established in 2008 after years of discussion of the need for such a unit in the BWA. One consequence of the Great Recession was the 2016 merger of both METR and F&J into the Division on Mission, Evangelism and Justice when pledged donor funds failed to materialize to support a separate F&J division.

BWA membership has grown since Callam came into office, moving from 214 to 235 member organizations in 122 countries and territories, bringing new countries and territories such as Vietnam, Grenada, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, into the BWA fold. Some new groups from East and Central Africa found their beginnings in refugee camps in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and South Sudan.

Bread of Life, an evangelism training initiative, a successor to the Jesus Christ, Living Water program, played a significant role in forging Baptist cooperation among various Baptist groups in countries, including Brazil and Haiti. Callam worked tirelessly to help settle disputes among Baptists and bring about reconciliation in places such as Kenya and Liberia.

A Covenant on Intra-Baptist Relations was adopted to provide a framework for BWA response to the diversity of language, culture, opinions and perspectives in meetings and in the various operations of the international body. The document considers the great diversity that exists among Baptists, particularly within the BWA. It assists member organizations to understand that all equally belong in, and are needed by, the BWA and provides a framework for respectful trans-cultural relationships.

In his retirement notice letter, Callam said his commitment in serving the BWA was to “draw attention to the church's mission as the mission of God,” locating the ministries of relief and development, the defense of freedom and justice and a commitment to the unity of the church within that vision. He ceaselessly insisted “on the theological foundation for these values.”

“You are one of those gifts from God for the church,” BWA President Paul Msiza said in response to Callam’s announcement. “I have been touched and encouraged by your deep faith and commitment to God and to the mission of the church. Your hard work and sacrificial service describe your deep commitment and love for the BWA.”

“My first response was one of sadness. It felt I was losing something very significant and precious,” declared John Upton, former president and current chair of the Human Resources Committee, upon learning of Callam’s plans to retire from the organization. “I have been deeply grateful for the opportunity to work alongside Neville, not only while serving as president of the BWA, but in every other capacity. His deep commitment to the BWA and his tireless service to it will long be appreciated.”

Noting his scholarship and commitment to theological rigor and integrity, Upton said Callam “modeled unsurpassed excellence of service” and that “his leadership has challenged the BWA to become increasingly an authentic global Baptist community.”

Callam acknowledged God’s guiding presence and the support of his wife, Dulcie. “Serving in this position, God has never failed me and, through all the opportunities and challenges, I have benefited from the unwavering faithfulness of my wife who has helped me selflessly.”

A search committee is expected to commence work to choose Callam’s successor.

Baptist World Alliance® 
©November 21, 2016