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

August 2, 2010
For Immediate Release
Baptist World Congress closes on high note
Honolulu (BWA) -- The 20th Baptist World Congress closed on a celebratory note on August 1 as more than 4,000 Baptists from 105 countries ended five days of worship, study, mission and fellowship.

Keynote speaker for the final session, Lance Watson, pastor of St. Paul's Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia, in the United States, urged the delegates to go forth to their various countries and churches in the power of the Holy Spirit to "change handicaps into happy helpfulness; to change disadvantages into delightful deliverances; to change lameness into leaping love."

Stating that "it is the business and mission of the church to make a difference in the world," Watson called on Baptists to stoop down into the "deep valleys of human need, rolling up your sleeves, signing up for service, getting off your seat, standing on your feet... getting involved with hurting humans."

The Christian, however, needs to draw on the power of the Holy Spirit in order to perform such tasks, for if you "try to visit the sick or serve the poor on your strength alone, you can't do it. You can't serve God, sing to God, sacrifice to God, please God, walk with God, praise God or preach God without God."

Even though ecstatic experience of the Holy Spirit is important, Watson declared that it is practical expressions of love and compassion that let others become aware of the love of God in Christ. "The world does not know about your religious experience. The culture does not know that you have been with Jesus and saved by His amazing grace.... . The world will not know who we are until we show them our love."

Watson told the large audience that they should not believe that their abilities or resources are inadequate. "Don't ever think that what you have does not matter. You don't have to speak like Shakespeare in order to testify. You don't have to preach like Paul before you can proclaim. You don't have to sing like angels before you can offer your praise. You don't have to give millions before you make a difference." Rather, "we must use what we have."

During the week, John Upton of the United States was elected president of the BWA, succeeding David Coffey of the United Kingdom, and former BWA general secretary Denton Lotz received the BWA Human Rights Award.

The conclusion of five years of Living Water emphasis was celebrated with music, drama, testimonies and an address by BWA General Secretary Neville Callam. Beginning in 2005, Living Water conferences and other events were held in various parts of the world, focusing on evangelism and leadership training.

Delegates at the congress engaged in Bible studies in nine Asian and European languages, and reflected on and discussed various topics of theological, social and ethical significance to Baptists, including pastoral leadership, Christian worship, Christian-Muslim relationships, human trafficking, and the environment.

The 21st Baptist World Congress will be held in Durban, South Africa, in July 2015.