|From the General Secretary |
By Neville Callam
How often do we hear, during discussions of operational procedures deemed suitable in certain contexts, a call for best practice to be pursued?
One hundred and five years ago, the Yale theologian/sociologist/economist, William Graham Sumner, wrote the classic Folkways, which provided food for thought not only for sociologists and anthropologists, but for students of ethics. In Folkways, Sumner propounded the celebrated theory of social relativism. It did not take too long before the claims of social relativism applied in the field of morals were shot down by rigorous reflection by several persons, notably the German psychologist, Karl Duncker. Yet, there is something priceless about Sumner's thesis that we dare not forget in the church.
The truth is that, whereas many years ago, persons representing imperial cultures simply announced to "native peoples" what they are to believe and how they are to act - after all the speakers represented the "civilizing powers" - today, the language has changed.
It no longer appears appropriate to reveal the nakedness of haughty cultural presumptions of superiority that issue in pronouncements on legitimate belief and appropriate methodology. Today, an apparently more defensible method must be employed. It often exhibits the liberal use of the expression, "best practice" or "best practices."
Especially when there appears an inversion in power relations, some people tend to dress their cultural prejudice in the language of best practice. In some cases, the glad users of the expression are unaware of the fact that it can be interpreted as a modern robe for an ancient cultural superiority complex.
Every cultural tradition has its own best practices, but the practices deemed best in each tradition are not to be regarded as best for all traditions, unless the speaker assumes normative standing for his or her own tradition. Proper Christian humility that affirms the reality of the incarnation in a variety of cultural settings and traditions leads us to be rather careful when we use the expression "best practice." Especially when we engage in discussions in global organizations, we must remember that none of the contexts from which each of the participants come ought to claim to host what ought to be best practice for all cultures. Whatever we make of the works of William Graham Sumner, we do well to tread lightly when we - all of us - are tempted to trumpet with arrogance from our own peculiar cultural assumptions.
Furthermore, since best practice is related to the application of technique for the sake of desirable outcomes, we may wish to affirm that outcomes are not all that matters when we are dealing with Christian living. Outcomes matter, but many people believe that God cares also about motives, means, and more.
The language of best practice is not always useful!
|What BWA Member Bodies are Doing|
Bahamas National Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention
Baptist work started in the Bahamas in 1790 when Prince Williams, a freed slave from South Carolina in the United States, went to Nassau, Bahamas, where he started Bethel Meeting House. In 1801 he and other blacks organized the Society of Anabaptists. Williams erected St. John's Baptist church and pastored there until he died at age 104.
The Bahamas National Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention (BNBMEC) was formed after Bahamas gained its independence from Britain in 1973, pulling together, under one umbrella, approximately 12 antecedent Baptist groups. BNBMEC now comprises 272 churches and 75,000 members.
Baptists are the largest religious group in the Bahamas. "On every island, and in every settlement in the Bahamas, there is a Baptist church," writes Donald McCartney, author of Bahamian Culture and Factors Which Impact Upon It. "The Baptist influence is, indeed, widespread." Several Baptists, including Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, have risen to prominent leadership in the country.
There are several Baptist-run educational institutions throughout the Bahamas, including the Bahamas Baptist Community College, formed by the BNBMEC in 1995, the tertiary education arm of the Baptist Educational System. The college has grown to become the nation's largest private college and the second largest tertiary institution in the country.
Other educational institutions include the Charles W. Saunders Baptist School, formerly known as the Bahamas Baptist College, but which was renamed in 1996 after its founder, a former president of BNBMEC; and the Prince William Baptist High School, founded in 1964.
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Roxboro Baptist Church
Roxboro, North Carolina, USA
Roxboro Baptist Church in Roxboro, North Carolina, in the United States, focuses on proclaiming the gospel, cultivating Christian living, and ministering to human need.
The Baptist World Alliance Global Impact Church, which has been supporting the BWA since at least 1989, is currently assisting a Pregnancy Support Center and other programs aimed at helping the needy in the community.
Last year, youth from the church participated in a field gleaning project to supply food for the hungry and in August 2010, church members went on a mission trip to Ukraine.
There will be a Crop Walk on April 10 to raise funds for the relief and development work of Church World Service, an interdenominational aid organization. The walk is aimed at raising awareness concerning hunger and poverty.
Mission trips to Red Springs, North Carolina, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, are currently being planned.
"Why do mission?"asks Dupre Sanders, pastor of the church since 1999. "Because people matter to Jesus and through our outreach ministries we do make a difference to the lives of those that we help."
|In Memoriam: John Peterson|
John Peterson, a former vice president of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), died on March 22 in Alexandria, Virginia, in the United States. He was 76 years old.
Peterson, pastor of the Alfred Street Baptist Church (ASBC) in Alexandria from 1964 until his retirement in 2006, served the BWA in various capacities, including as vice president and as member of the General Council, the Executive Committee, the Personnel Committee, the Constitution and Bylaws Committee, and the Promotion and Development Committee.
He is a former chair of the Budget and Finance Committee and was the first chair of the BWA Special Commission on Baptists Against Racism from 1990-1995. This commission helped to plan a major anti-racism summit in Atlanta, Georgia, in January 1999.
"Peterson was deeply committed to the Baptist World Alliance, with whose mission he identified wholeheartedly, in whose leadership he shared his outstanding gifts, and of whose program he led his church to be a strong supporter," said BWA General Secretary Neville Callam.
"As chair of the Budget and Finance Committee he played a significant role in helping us to negotiate the purchase of our new headquarters building in Falls Church, Virginia," said Denton Lotz, former general secretary of the BWA.
During the civil wars in Liberia that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, Peterson represented the BWA in negotiating with the rebels for the return of several Baptist properties that the rebels had confiscated, including Rick's Institute, a Baptist school in Monrovia, Liberia's capital.
Peterson was engaged in the civil rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s, and played a role in helping to integrate schools in Alexandria, a suburb in the greater Washington, DC, metropolitan area. "Schools had to be integrated forcefully. That was a terrible time. I worked very closely with the integration of schools," Peterson said in an interview following his retirement. He was deeply involved in a number of other organizations, including the Northern Virginia Urban League.
ASBC experienced significant growth during Peterson's tenure as pastor, from fewer than 200 to approximately 2,400 members. The congregation hosts an annual college fair and provides a significant number of scholarships to college-bound students. The church became mission focused, with various ministries to the wider Alexandria community, including a jail and prison ministry. Mission outreach was extended to other countries, such as to Liberia in West Africa.
Under Peterson, ASBC established or strengthened links with the Baptist General Convention of Virginia, the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention and the BWA. A number of ASBC members are on the staff of the BWA or have served on committees and commissions.
"As pastor of several BWA staff members and other persons who hold significant offices in the BWA, Peterson extended his pastoral care to cover the entire BWA staff in generous and memorable ways," Callam stated.
"We thank God for his life and witness; we celebrate his faithfulness in ministry; and we commend his example to everyone."
Peterson leaves wife, Joyce, son, John Jr., and daughter, Jewelette.
A private memorial service was held at ASBC on April 1 and a funeral service on April 2.
|In Memoriam: Gustavo Parajón|
Gustavo Parajón, recipient of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Human Rights Award in 2006, and a former vice president of the BWA, died on March 13 in Managua, Nicaragua, of a heart attack. He was 75 years old.
A medical doctor and former pastor of First Baptist Church in Managua, Nicaragua's capital, Parajón was a prominent figure in Nicaraguan evangelical and medical circles. The son of pastor and church planter Arturo Parajón, he graduated from Case Western Reserve University Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, in the United States, and earned a Masters in Public Health from Harvard University in Massachusetts.
BWA General Secretary Neville Callam stated that "Gustavo was an exemplary leader among us" who had an outstanding "record of service in defense of justice and peace." Callam said that the BWA has been "inspired by his commitment to serving the needy, healing the wounded and uniting Christians in the service of people in need."
Parajón founded two organizations. PROVADENIC (Nicaragua Vaccination and Community Development Program), formed in 1967, was started in partnership with the Baptist Convention of Nicaragua, First Baptist Church of Managua, and First Baptist Church of Cleveland in the USA. It is a primary healthcare program that serves 25 rural communities by training local health promoters to treat and prevent common illnesses.
CEPAD (Nicaraguan Council of Evangelical Churches) was created in 1972 as an interdenominational relief organization to aid victims after an earthquake severely damaged Managua and other parts of the country, killing more than 10,000. CEPAD has expanded its ministry and now serves approximately 45 member denominations and the broader population with emergency relief, development, and reconciliation programs.
During the Sandinista Revolution and the war in the 1980s, CEPAD was the intermediary between the evangelical churches and the government, and won the attention of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who appointed Parajón a member of the National Reconciliation Commission, together with Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Managua.
This appointment led to misrepresentation in some circles that CEPAD was a communist organization working in tandem with the Soviet-backed government. As a result, CEPAD's clinics became targets for attacks from Contra rebels who sought to overthrow the government, placing doctors, nurses and patients at risk. An intervention by Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer Theological Seminary) professor and author, Ron Sider, who organized visits by conservative leaders from the USA to the sites served by the organization, helped to dispel the accusation. CEPAD continues its ministry of reconciliation.
Parajón received several other awards, including the Francisco Morazán medallion in October 2006 from the Central American Parliament; the Sesquicentennial Medallion as an Outstanding Citizen of Managua during Managua's 150th anniversary in 2002; the Dahlberg Peace Award by American Baptist Churches USA in 1980; and a Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 1981 from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, from where he had previously earned his bachelor's degree in 1959.
In receiving the 2006 BWA Human Rights Award, Parajón, who served as a BWA vice president from 2005-2010, was recognized for his outstanding peace, relief and development work, as well as his contribution to the evangelical movement and Baptist witness in his country.
General Secretary Callam declared that Parajón's "dedication to reconciling people in situations of conflict has inspired us all. Gustavo has left us with a legacy of a loving and caring spirit which Baptists everywhere will seek to emulate."
Parajón leaves wife, Joan, daughters,Marta and Rebecca, and son, David.
Funeral services were held March 15 at First Baptist Church in Managua.
Baptist World Aid
|BWAid grants for the months of February and March 2011|
Grants recorded in United States dollars unless otherwise noted
Hunger and flood Relief - 10,000.00Rwanda
Farm Assistance - 5,000.00AsiaIndia
Garo-Rabha Ethnic Clash Relief - 6,000.00
Garo-Rabha Ethnic Clash Peacemaking efforts - 1,000.00Bangladesh
Integrated Social Development Program -
Mt. Merapi Volcano Eruption Relief - 10,000.00New Zealand
Earthquake Relief - 10,000.00
Construction -- School for Orphanage - 36,000.00 Jamaica
Church Rebuilding After Fire - 5,000.00 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 April we will remember the following:
Baptist Conference of the Philippines, Inc
Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches, Inc
Convention of Visayas & Mindanao of Southern Baptist Churches
General Baptists Churches of the Philippines, Inc
Luzon Convention of Southern Baptist Churches, Inc
Convention of Indonesian Baptist Churches
The Fellowship of Baptist Churches of Papua
Union of Indonesian Baptist Churches
Baptists scattered over East Timor
Japan Baptist Conference
Japan Baptist Convention
Japan Baptist Union
Okinawa Baptist Convention (Japan)
Korea Baptist Convention (South Korea)
Chinese Baptist Convention (Taiwan)
Baptists scattered throughout Djibouti & Somalia
April 24 April 30
Baptist Evangelical Association of Ethiopia
Ethiopia Addis Kidan Baptist Church
Baptists scattered throughout Eritrea
Union of Baptists in Latin America Summit of presidents and executive secretaries, Montevideo, Uruguay, April 13-15
Baptist Men's World Day of Prayer, April 23Back to top