BWA among global gathering on peace and justice in Italy

BWA Vice President Dimitrina Oprenova being greeted by Pope Francis in Assisi, ItalyDimitrina Oprenova of Bulgaria, a vice president of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), was among a global gathering of 450 religious leaders of various Christian and faith traditions at the "THIRST FOR PEACE: Religions and Cultures in dialogue" in Assisi, Italy, from September 18-20.

Hosted by Pope Francis I, the event explored justice and peace issues such as economic inequality, poverty, war, terrorism, the integration of migrants and Christian-Muslim relationships.

Specific concerns, including conflicts and wars in Iraq, the horrors in Aleppo, Syria, the aftermath of the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, and the refugee challenges facing Europe, were also explored.

Oprenova, who was appointed by BWA General Secretary Neville Callam to represent him at the event, reported that “the spirit…was one of respect and value for all present.”

She said that among those invited to share in the event was “a group of refugees from countries that are experiencing tragedies of war.”

Pope Francis hosted prayers attended by Christian leaders and representatives, including Oprenova of the BWA; Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartolomew I; Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury; Ignatius Aphrem II, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East; and Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches.

“All main Orthodox, Protestant [and] Evangelical representatives sat at the very center of the podium from where the service was held, including the Baptist representative,” Oprenova confirmed.

“An Appeal for Peace was issued, read and then signed by the representatives,” Oprenova declared. “Small scrolls of the appeal were symbolically passed from the spiritual to the political leaders with the help of children. Young children were invited to come to the podium where the faith representatives gave the scroll appeals to the children who in return delivered it to the politicians and representatives sitting in the front rows.”

The 2016 gathering in Assisi was the 30th anniversary of the Day of Prayer for Peace promoted by Pope John Paul II in October 1986, where representatives of various religious traditions and cultures met for three days of dialogue and prayer.

The BWA attended prior meetings to follow the tradition of the 1986 gathering. In October 2011, General Secretary Callam and former President John Upton were among approximately 300 religious leaders who gathered in Assisi to participate in the Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World.

Baptist World Alliance®
©September 27, 2016

BWA appoints coordinator for mission and justice

Trisha Miller Manarin of Virginia, in the United States, has been appointed Baptist World Alliance (BWA) coordinator for the Division on Mission, Evangelism and Justice (MEJ).

The appointment was made by BWA General Secretary Neville Callam following a decision of the Executive Committee in Vancouver, Canada, in July that “the General Secretary will make interim staffing arrangements to continue the work of the BWA while the Executive Task Group does its work.”

The task group is to take a comprehensive look at BWA staffing and submit its recommendations not later than 2018. The general secretary can fill vacancies that arise on an interim basis.

Manarin commences duties on September 1 upon the retirement of Fausto Vasconcelos, who was director of the Division on Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection (METR) from April 2006 to August 31 this year. She will work on a part time basis.

The MEJ division is a combination of METR and the division on Freedom and Justice (F&J), which has remained vacant since 2014 after Director Raimundo Barreto resigned to take up a professorship at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey, in the US. F&J was the newest BWA division after it was formally created in 2008.

“Over the last nine years, I have gotten to know Trisha and her interest in, and commitment to, BWA and its mission,” Callam said. “Her intellectual gifts and her communications and organizational skills will prove helpful to the organization as we inaugurate the new Division on Mission, Evangelism and Justice.”

Manarin is executive coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and director of supervised ministry and an adjunct professor at the John Leland Center for Theological Studies. She is a member of the BWA Commission on Mission and was elected a vice president of the North America Baptist Fellowship (NABF) in July 2016 after previously being NABF recording secretary.

She holds a degree in music education and vocal performance from Samford University in Alabama, USA, a master’s degree from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer Seminary) in Pennsylvania and a doctoral degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, both in the United States.

Her husband, Tim, sits on the BWA Commission on Human Rights Advocacy. They are the parents of two sons and a daughter.

Baptist World Alliance®
©September 2, 2016

Donation to BWA made more secure

Over the past two weeks, the donation (Give) button on the Baptist World Alliance website did not work as intended and persons using it may have received an error message.

The glitch occurred while the BWA installed an extra layer of security on the website to ensure the continued safety of the personal information of those who make donations. The matter has now been resolved.

At no time before or after the glitch occurred, and the extra security added, was the personal information of any of our donors placed at risk. Be assured that the system is safe and indeed, has been strengthened.

We look forward to your continued support to the various ministries of the Baptist World Alliance as you make your donations at

Baptist World Alliance®
© July 27, 2016

Baptists join others in mission during Rio Summer Games

Baptists, along with other Christian traditions in Brazil, are engaged in mission outreach to the city of Rio de Janeiro and its visitors during the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. The Olympic Games will formally run from August 5-21 while the Paralympics will be held September 7-18.

More than 11,000 athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees are expected to participate in the Summer Olympics.

Dubbed Open Arms Movement (Movimento Braços Abertos) or MBA 2016, the mission initiative seeks to connect and coordinate “the involvement of evangelical churches and agencies in the proclamation of gospel before and during the Great Sport Events that will take place in the city of Rio de Janeiro in 2016.”

Declaring that “the Body of Christ will have a unique opportunity,” persons were encouraged to volunteer through prayer, training, giving and active witnessing.

It is a “unique opportunity to do missionary work or cross-cultural evangelism … and to proclaim the love of God by a culturally relevant way for those who are coming from other countries, including those countries considered closed to the gospel,” the planners stated.

In preparation, prayer vigils were held on the second Friday of each month. “Christians from different churches, evangelical organizations and missionary agencies [gathered] at the sanctuary of a different church denomination.” Vigils were held throughout the night, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

“We pray for Rio de Janeiro city and state, Brazil and everything else we are going to do,” the organizers stated.

Participating groups include the Carioca (City of Rio) Baptist Convention, part of the Brazilian Baptist Convention, along with the Salvation Army, the Assemblies of God, other Christian traditions, mission agencies, parachurch groups and Christian athletes’ organizations.

Baptist church groups from outside Brazil, such as the Seventh Day Baptist Missionary Society, have also planned short term mission trips to Rio to coincide with the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Baptist World Alliance®
© August 5, 2016

Baptists urge UN to raise threat designation for Nigeria

The main international organization that represents Baptists globally is telling the United Nations it needs to raise the designated threat level for Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region.

Declaring that the area is rife with conflict and dislocation, the Baptist World Alliance asserts that “violence, murder, and kidnapping [have] directly impacted more than 14 million people with between three and five million being internally displaced.”

This has resulted “in rampant malnutrition, leaving thousands of persons on the verge of starvation.”

The threat level, the BWA says, must be raised to Level 3, the “most severe large scale humanitarian crisis.”

Extremists in Nigeria, mainly the violent Islamist group, Boko Haram, and Fulani militants, have led a series of attacks in Nigeria and neighboring countries such as Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Millions lost property, home and agricultural produce, and have had to flee to elsewhere in their own nations or into other countries.

The BWA notes that “people of faith and houses of worship have been intentionally targeted, including the damage or destruction of thousands of churches and numerous mosques.”

Samson Ayokunle, president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, has castigated the international community for ignoring terrorist violence and attacks in the West African country.

He accused the world community of devaluing Nigerian lives. "Does it not matter to the rest of the world if Boko Haram continues to kill hundreds of people every week? Are these people less human than those being killed in other places where they have gone to directly intervene? My people are being killed like animals and the whole world is just watching,” Ayokunle said after a particularly brutal series of attacks in Nigeria.

The BWA invites Baptists everywhere “to stand in solidarity with Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region, to pray for the development of transformative peace throughout the country and region, and to actively work to build a context of justice, human rights, rule of law, and religious freedom for all people.”

Baptist World Alliance®
© July 8, 2016