|From the General Secretary |
By Neville Callam
Throughout the years, Baptists have affirmed the biblical teaching that the Holy Spirit gives gifts to the members of the church. These gifts are given for the building up of the body of Christ and for the work of ministry. Hardly is there any disagreement on this. Consensus begins to evaporate when the discussion turns on the question, "Are there ministries from which some members of the church are excluded?" For example, "Might this exclusion be based on considerations of gender?" Discussion of this question may go on long into the future. There can be no debate, however, over the question of the effectiveness of many women who are offering leadership in Baptist communities around the world. Space allows us only to mention only a few examples.
Among the visionary leaders in the Baptist Union of Austria is President Anita Ivanovits. She performs her daily work with a publishing and distribution company while serving the Union, whose general secretary is Walter Klimt, with a clear vision of a vibrant future for the Union in its local and international mission. Her passionate support of this mission is helping to make a difference among Baptists in Austria today.
In Chile, Raquel Contreras has just finished her term of service as president of the Union of Baptists in Latin America and vice president of the BWA. She has also completed eight years of service as executive president of the Evangelical Baptist Union of Chile. At the recently concluded BWA Congress, she was appointed as president of the BWA Women's Department. Raquel's extraordinary leadership gifts, her commitment to the mission of the church, and her enthusiasm for faithful Christian witness are well known around the world.
Anna Maffei is the immediate past president of the Baptist Evangelical Christian Union of Italy, a position she gave up only recently. An informed theologian, she combines a genuine spirit of compassion with a firm grasp of the social implications of the Gospel of Christ and zeal for the church to engage with issues of social justice. Her broad vision and passionate leadership have inspired many.
In Sweden, Karin Wiburn serves as general secretary of the Baptist Union. Of course, Karin is not the first woman to serve in a very senior position among Baptists in Sweden. Before her, outstanding women leaders like Birgit Karlsson blazed the trail. Karin's capacity for clear thinking on theological matters, her thoughtful and caring approach, and her giftedness as a servant leader are impressive.
Regina Class, who leads Baptists in Germany, enjoys a background that is firmly rooted in some of the best features of the Baptist tradition - informed belief, missionary vision and strong commitment to social justice. Regina manages to maintain a strong prophetic vision without sacrificing the pastoral spirit that is informed by a mature Christian spirituality.
It is easy to debate the pros and cons of religious argument and, perhaps, too many believers take delight in this. When we focus on the issues that serve as points of disagreement, let us be careful to examine God's revelation both through the sacred scriptures and in the life of the church today. When our spiritual eyes are open, it is amazing what we can see. It fills our hearts with joy! This joy could increase if Baptist historians respond to the observation in David Bebbington's most recent book, Baptists Through the Centuries, that "The role of women among Baptists has generally been neglected by historians."
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|What BWA Member Bodies are Doing|
American Baptist Churches USA
American Baptist Churches USA (ABC USA) is the successor to the Northern Baptist Convention (NBC).
Baptists were divided over the issue of slavery after the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society determined that it could not appoint missionaries who owned slaves. The conflict led to a split in the American Baptist Home Mission Society, whereupon the Southern Baptist Convention, which supported the institution of slavery, was formed in 1845.
Northern Baptists remained organized as a group of societies until 1907, when the NBC was formed. The NBC was, in turn, renamed the American Baptist Convention in 1950, and in 1972, its name was changed again to American Baptist Churches USA.
ABC USA comprises 34 regions of varying sizes, 5,500 congregations, and approximately 1.3 million members.
Its national boards include American Baptist Home Mission Societies, formed in 1824, and which focuses on ministry in the United States and Puerto Rico; International Ministries, dating back almost 200 years and focuses on mission overseas; and the Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board, founded in 1913, which offers investment, retirement and insurance benefits specifically designed to meet the needs of church workers, both ordained and lay.
There are 16 affiliated colleges and universities, and 10 affiliated seminaries and theological schools, in addition to other affiliated organizations having to do with camps and retreats, publishing, and women's ministries, among others.
There are several hundred ABC USA missionaries serving across the United States and in more than 20 other countries.
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First Baptist Church of New London
First Baptist Church of New London, New Hampshire, in the United States, was organized on October 23, 1788, the year in which the government of the United States was constituted.
Among the church's ministries is its participation in the Kearsarge Lake Sunapee (KLS) Community Food Pantry which was established by area churches and various civic groups to assist low income residents in Andover, Newbury, Springfield, and other towns in New Hampshire.
In reference to the KLS, a church report states, "literally hundreds of individuals and many groups and businesses have donated time, goods and money to establish the KLS Community Food Pantry on a solid organizational and financial basis so that we can continue to provide food and products for daily living to those in need."
First Baptist also supports the Warner Food Pantry, the Claremont Food Pantry, and New Horizons Shelter. The congregation also has membership in Kearsarge Regional Ecumenical Ministries, a church-based, nonprofit association that was established for charitable purposes by First Baptist and five other churches.
The congregation has donated funds for water purification systems in Haiti. Through the Special Friends program, regular visits are made to individuals who are limited in their ability to be out and about in the community. The Baptist Women's Fellowship of the church offers several scholarships to deserving students affiliated with the First Baptist Church.
First Baptist New London describes itself as "a community of members and friends who share a common commitment to nurture personal and spiritual growth, working together to spread joy in the love of God through inspiring worship services, glorious music and dedication to continuous Christian education. We welcome people from all backgrounds, valuing tradition yet embracing change. Through our faith in God and Jesus Christ, we are active in our focus on our neighbors, the world, and its people."
For gifts by:
Don Sewell in memory of his father Gene Sewell and brother Chuck
Mr. and Mrs. William Conway in honor of Kathe and Peter Traynham
Joan Thatcher in honor of Richard Ice
Mr. and Mrs. J. Paul Long in honor of their pastor and his wife Max and Gail Hester
Jon and Rebecca Taurisano in honor of Kathe and Peter Traynham, Lindsay Greer, and Jeffrey and Vivian Traynham
Bruce Anderson in honor of Steven Obreiter and family
Susan Ferrence in honor of Mrs. W.R.C. Brillinger
Carolyn Woitas in honor of Rev. Rodney and Keri Hovell
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|In Memoriam: Christine Gregory|
Christine Gregory, a former vice president of the Baptist World Alliance, died on January 22 in Danville, Virginia, in the United States. She was 89 years old.
Gregory was vice president of the BWA from 1985-1990 and served on the General Council and Executive Committee.
She was elected first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1981, the first woman to fill one of the SBC's top elected positions, and in 1982 became the first woman to serve as president of the Baptist General Association of Virginia.
In the 1970s, she was president of the SBC's Woman's Missionary Union (WMU) and of WMU's Virginia affiliate. She was a trustee of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and was awarded honorary doctorates by two schools with historic Baptists ties - the University of Richmond and Averett College (now University) in Danville, both in Virginia.
Gregory, whose husband died in 1994, is survived by sons Harrison, Eugene and Joel.
A memorial service was held at First Baptist Church in Danville on January 30.
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|In Memoriam: Paul Madsen|
Paul Madsen, a former executive assistant to the general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, died on November 19, 2010, in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, in the United States. He was 90 years old.
Madsen's involvement with the BWA began in the early 1970s while he was associate executive secretary of American Baptist Home Mission Societies. He was a member of the BWA General Council, the Executive Committee, the Commission on Evangelism and Missions, and chair of the Personnel Committee.
In the mid-1980s, Madsen was named executive assistant to BWA general Secretary Gerhard Claas, and helped in the planning of the 1985 Baptist World Congress in Los Angeles, California, in the USA, where he was in charge of the BWA exhibit, and the 1990 congress in Seoul, South Korea.
Madsen was the author of several books including The Small Church: Valid, Vital, Victorious; The Person Who Chairs the Meeting; and The Continuing Journey: 1832, 1878, 1974: The Mission of the Board of National Ministries, American Baptist Churches, U.S.A.
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Baptist World Aid
|BWAid grants for the months of December, 2010, and January 2011|
Grants recorded in United States dollars unless otherwise noted
School Supplies - 10,000.00
Promoting Girl-Child Education - 10,000.00
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Poverty Reduction - 9,000.00
HIV/Aids Counseling Program - 10,000.00
Goat Relief Project - 8,800.00
Emergency Relief for Mumba District - 2,000.00
Water Well Project - 6,746.70Kenya
Medical Dispensary - 5,555.00AsiaIndia
Community Health & Food Security - 20,000.00
Day Care Centers & Tailoring Center - 11,322.79Thailand
House of Love - 179.80
Delmas 19 Construction - 50,000.00
Operations Expenses - 11,700.00EuropeSerbia
Winter Hunger Project - 12,000.00Hungary
Red Sludge Relief - 20,000.00Ukraine
Gypsies Winter Hunger Project - 12,000.00North AmericaUSA
InterAction 2011 Membership Dues - 2,000.00 Back to top
Monthly Prayer Guide
Each week, the staff of the Baptist World Alliance prays for conventions and unions throughout the world.
We invite all other Baptist conventions and unions, and individual Baptists everywhere, to join us in these prayers.
For the month of February we will remember the following:
January 30-February 5
Finland Swedish Baptist Union
Finnish Baptist Union
Baptist Union of Denmark
Baptist Union of Sweden
Baptist Union of Norway
Baptist Union of Great Britain
Baptist Union of Scotland
Baptist Union of Wales
Union of Baptist Churches in the Netherlands
Union of Baptist Churches in Belgium
Baptist Evangelical Christian Union of Italy
Portuguese Baptist Convention
Baptist Evangelical Union of Spain
All Africa Baptist Fellowship Executive Committee, Arusha, Tanzania, February 9-12Back to top