Washington (BWA)--World Sunday for Peace will be observed on May 22.
The observance carries significance for Christians around the world, and will be especially important as the day falls during the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation that will be held in Kingston, Jamaica, from May 17-25. Burchell Taylor, a vice president of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), has been invited by BWA General Secretary Neville Callam to represent the BWA at the convocation that is expected to draw approximately 1,000 participants from around the world.
Inasmuch as the BWA has been an advocate for peace many times over many decades, the BWA views it as appropriate that Baptist conventions and unions and their churches have a general focus on peace and offer special prayers for peace on May 22, during worship.
As several countries in the Middle East and North Africa are experiencing turmoil at this time, we encourage our Baptist churches to follow up on a 1981 BWA resolution that called "on Baptists in every land to pray for peace in the Near and Middle East."
In response to the accumulation of powerful weapons that are capable of widespread destruction and devastation, the BWA, in another 1981 resolution, urged its member bodies to "take responsibility within their own nations and states to preserve and propagate peace and to effect the reduction and ultimate cessation of armaments, both conventional and nuclear."
Furthermore, in 1982, the BWA urged "that peaceful means be used by national Baptist bodies to influence national governments toward peace and disarmament" and that "The world Baptist community will accept courageously its Christian calling as peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)."
The BWA's consistent call and work for peace should be sufficient encouragement to Baptists everywhere to see peacemaking and peace building as a vocational calling.
There are a number of initiatives taken by Baptists that serve as example and inspiration and which the BWA commend to Baptists everywhere. These include the work of the All Africa Baptist Youth Fellowship in its efforts to promote peace in West Africa. The youth group, among other things, held conferences and workshops on Peace and Conflict Resolution in Africa in Ghana in October 2008 and in Sierra Leone in November 2009. The conferences drew participants from countries that have been affected by internal conflicts and civil wars and focused on the ways youth can contribution to the peace process in their countries.
A source of inspiration too are the efforts of Wati Aier, principal of the Oriental Theological Seminary in Dimapur, Nagaland state, India, who, for almost two decades, worked for peace in Nagaland. His efforts led to the formation of the Forum for Naga Reconciliation in 2008, which held more than 60 meetings, resulting in a reduction in attacks and violence following the signing of the Covenant of Reconciliation in June 2009 and a high level meeting of the leaders of the Naga factions in September 2010.
Groups and persons such as the All Africa Baptist Youth Fellowship and Wati Aier live out the 2008 BWA resolution: "encouraging dialogue between different faith and ethnic groups to promote peace and harmony in society." They "exemplify the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ and, as reconciled people, [are fulfilling] a ministry of reconciliation in the world."
We pray for peace.