Washington (BWA)--Worship materials for Baptist World Alliance Day are now available for download on the BWA website, www.bwanet.org, to help churches unite in celebrating the worldwide Baptist family on April 30 or May 1.
Baptist World Alliance Day was originally called Baptist World Alliance Sunday. It was begun in the mid-1920s, and was to be a day of "World-wide Fellowship in Praise and Prayer." The Baptist Times first reported on the event in England on February 7, 1926. Quickly becoming an important tradition, BWA Day is now observed on either Saturday or Sunday worship days, and provides an opportunity for people around the world to join in prayer for the wider Baptist family and especially to remember those Baptists who are suffering persecution and deprivation. This is also the one day each year when churches are encouraged to collect an offering for the global work of the Baptist World Alliance.
In 2007, BWA Day moved from the first Sunday in February to the first worship day in May to provide a mid-year emphasis for the Baptist world family among the churches. The celebration now includes the Saturday prior to the first Sunday, for the Seventh Day Baptists in our global family.
2011 BWA Day worship materials have been composed by Myra Blyth, Tutorial Fellow in Worship and Pastoral Studies at Regents Park College, Oxford, England, contemplating our quinquennial emphasis, "In Step with the Spirit." Blyth has been a deputy general secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and was a featured speaker at the BWA's 2005 Baptist World Congress in Birmingham, England. She is a well known Baptist author, songwriter, and minister involved in ecumenical work.
Blyth joins the ranks of other respected liturgists who have contributed to Baptist World Alliance Day resources in recent years. Chris Ellis, pastor and author of a published book on worship, provided 2010 BWA Day resources. Ellis currently serves on the BWA Commission on Baptist Worship and Spirituality, and has also published a number of hymns and prayers. His latest book, Approaching God: A Guide for Worship Leaders and Worshippers, was released in 2009.
Blyth and Ellis together co-edited a 2005 publication, Gathering for Worship: Patterns and Prayers for the Community of Disciples, released by Canterbury Press.
In 2009, liturgist and author, Nathan Nettleton, created resources for BWA Day. Nettleton is the author of Eucharistic Celebration: A Baptist Perspective, and lecturer in liturgical studies at Whitley College and the Catholic Institute, both in Australia. He continues to create for churches daily liturgical resources following the Revised Common Lectionary, and freely makes those available to churches everywhere on his website at www.laughingbird.net. Laughing Bird is Nettleton's reference to Australia's national bird, the kookaburra, a bird he feels is a natural symbol for the Holy Spirit.
As the Baptist World Alliance ministers "In Step with the Spirit," we invite every Baptist church to exemplify our unity in Christ this May by sharing these prayers and worshipping together, remembering all of the Baptist family on BWA Day.