Baptist World Alliance
Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Phone: +1 703 790 8980
Fax: +1 703 893 5160

July 31, 2010
For Immediate Release
John Upton is new BWA President
Honolulu (BWA) -- John Upton, executive director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) and of the Virginia Baptist Mission Board (VBMB) in the United States, has been elected president of the Baptist World Alliance during the 20th Baptist World Congress held in Honolulu, Hawaii, from July 28 to August 1.

Upton succeeds David Coffey of the United Kingdom and will serve as BWA president for the period 2010-2015.

The new president of the global Baptist organization has had a long association with the BWA. He is a member of the BWA General Council and the Executive Committee, the two governing bodies of the BWA. He has also served on the Baptist World Aid Committee, the Commission on Christian Ethics, and the Executive Committee of the North American Baptist Fellowship, one of six regional fellowships of the BWA. For the past five years, he was chair of the Congress Program Committee, which played a significant role in planning the Baptist World Congress in Honolulu.

BWA General Secretary Neville Callam gave his full endorsement of Upton's election. "God has prepared John for this role, having led Virginia Baptists since 2001, a period during which Virginia Baptists have been on the cutting edge of Christian witness and mission," Callam said. "Without a doubt, he is eminently suited to fill the position as BWA president."  

Prior to being elected as executive director of the BGAV and the VBMB in 2001, Upton served as group leader of the Mission Mobilization Group of the BGAV, beginning in 1995. Earlier, he was pastor of Urbanna Baptist Church in Urbanna, Virginia, from 1984-1986 and 1991-1995. Between 1986 and 1991 he and his wife, Deborah, served as missionaries in Taiwan through the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The new president attended the Baptist-affiliated Averett College (now Averett University) in Danville, Virginia; the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, in the USA; and the Taiwan Language Institute. He received a Doctor of Divinity degree from the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Kerrala, India.

Twelve vice presidents, two from each of the six regions of the BWA, were also elected during the morning session on Saturday, July 31. The 12 vice presidents are Daniel Carro of Argentina and Joel Sierra from Mexico; Regina Claas of Germany and Nabil Costa of Lebanon; Harry Gardner of Canada and William Epps from the United States; Olu Menjay of Liberia and Paul Msiza from South Africa; Victor Samuel Gonzalez from Cuba and Burchell Taylor from Jamaica; and John Kok of Malaysia and Ross Clifford of Australia.

Carro, an Argentinean living in the USA, will serve as first vice president.