|From the General Secretary |
An Embarrassment of Riches
By Neville Callam
When we gather each year for the BWA Annual Gathering, it is very difficult to find enough time to get to know a sufficient number of participants. This has the effect of limiting one's awareness of the vast array of gifts represented. It is virtually impossible to calculate the extent to which persons attending the Gathering contribute to the spiritual and social development of many countries.
During a short visit to Nigeria in November last year, I had fellowship with Professor Timothy Olagbemiro and Professor Bisi Adebowale, the Vice Chancellor and the Pro Chancellor respectively of Bowen University (BU). These outstanding Nigerian Baptist scholars, who are deeply committed to the development of their country, attended the Annual Gathering that took place in Ede, the Netherlands, in 2009.
A renowned physicist, Professor Olagbemiro exercises excellent leadership at BU, which is emerging as one of the leading universities in Nigeria even though it was established in November 2002. Currently, BU offers degrees in its Faculties of Agriculture, Science and Science Education, Social and Management Sciences and in its College of Health Sciences from its campus in Iwo. At its Igbomoso campus, which is adjacent to the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary (NBTS), BU operates a teaching hospital.
While in the country, I also visited the NBTS. NBTS is reputedly the oldest Baptist seminary in Africa. One of its past presidents is the acclaimed Nigerian theologian, Rev. Professor Odolodor Imasogie. The Nigerian Baptist Convention has ensured the maintenance of the standard and quality of formation offered at NBTS by installing Rev. Professor Deji Isaac Ayegboyin as the current president. A gifted yet humble scholar of note, Prof. Ayegboyin is offering leadership with vision and commitment, contributing to a great future for the evangelical churches in Nigeria and beyond. Current enrollment at NBTS is 700 and degrees are offered in Theological Studies, Church Music, and Education.
Professor Bisi Adebowale, an outstanding Nigerian educator, is a deacon in the sole congregation in which I had the privilege to share in corporate worship - Oritamefa Baptist Church in Ibadan. A large congregation that was once served by former BWA Regional Secretary for Africa, Rev. Dr. S. Ola Akande, the church is now led by Rev. Dr. D. F. Oladele, with Rev. Remi Awopegba as associate pastor. On the day I visited, Nigerian Baptists were observing their annual Thanksgiving Day. In their inimitable traditional way, the congregation of approximately 2,500 exulted in praise before God in lengthy processions marked by beautiful singing, exuberant dancing, and joyful presentations of gifts to the Lord. What a wonderful and unforgettable experience this was!
When next we assemble for our Annual Gathering in Kuala Lumpur, God willing, let us endeavor to meet and get to know at least five of the participants present. This will enable us to find even more reasons to celebrate what God is doing through the worldwide Baptist movement. When this happens, we must not forget to do what Nigerian Baptists seem always keen to add: give all the glory to God who enables the work that the church seeks to undertake in the name of her Lord.
|What BWA Member Bodies are Doing|
Baptist Union of Scotland
The Baptist Union of Scotland (BUS) "lay particular emphasis on the importance of personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and on the Bible as God's Word, guiding the conduct of individuals and the life of the church."
Baptist work started in Scotland in the middle of the 18th century by soldiers who were Baptists, and who were among Oliver Cromwell's troops. Following a short demise after the soldiers withdrew from Scotland, Baptist witness grew through the efforts of William Sinclair, Robert Carmichael, Robert and James Haldane, and others.
The union now comprises approximately 13,000 members in 169 churches. It recently launched PRISM, an innovative church planting program for "the releasing and resourcing of individuals" that would "reach a distinct group of people not presently reached by the church."
Step Out, a summer mission program of the union, organizes teams of young people to help local churches with mission activities for a week of the summer. An annual Sports Day is geared to persons under 25 and ends with a challenge about the Christian life and an awards ceremony.
Baptists throughout the union serve the homeless, disabled, aged, alcoholics, AIDS sufferers and others through local church ministries and organizations such as Bethany Trust, the Elpis Centre, the Tor, and Airlie House. The Atholl Baptist Centre provides facilities for conferences, Christian training and holidays, including for those who are disabled.Scottish Baptist College prepares persons for ministry and mission.
BUS formed a Public Issues and Social Action working group to discuss public theology and to work together on social and moral issues.
The union participates in Work Place Chaplaincy Scotland, a non-denominational Christian trust aimed at encouraging Christians to volunteer as chaplains for at least four hours per week in their local community, and which serves workplace communities across Scotland.
BUS core principles include the enabling and equipping persons for mission and ministry; expressing interdependency as a family of believing communities; and encouraging a distinctive way of being Baptist within the wider church.
Back to top
First Baptist Church
Harlingen, Texas, USA
First Baptist Church in Harlingen (FBCH), Texas, in the United States, recently celebrated its 100th anniversary under the theme, "A Celebration of His Faithfulness," which included a Celebration Service, a banquet, and recognition of families with three or more generations who have been a part of FBCH.
"FBC Harlingen seeks to fulfill our mission to make disciples in our community, nation, and around the world," says Wade Hood, pastor.
FBCH conducts Sunday morning Bible studies for all ages through L.I.F.E. Groups, and offers discipleship classes on Sunday evenings and during the week, in addition to Bible study cell groups held in homes.
The Baptist World Alliance Global Impact Church contributes generously to helping to ease world hunger, including through the Baptist World Aid Hunger Appeal. The congregation provides financial support to mission activities, mission projects and missionaries around the world.
Its ministries include EmpowHER, sponsored by Tas Philas, the church's women's ministry. EmpowHER was created to encourage bonding between mothers through fellowship, study and support.
First Place 4 Health is a weight loss and healthy living program that emphasizes putting God first place in people's lives and utilizes the support of friends to lead healthy lifestyles. The Family Life Center hosts multiple opportunities for church members, guests, and the community to fellowship through physical activity.
"At FBC Harlingen, we want to serve you on your journey of faith, wherever you are along the way," Hood states.
|In Memoriam: Andreas Kogoya|
Andreas Kogoya, general secretary of the Fellowship of Baptist Churches of Papua (FBCP) in Indonesia, died on May 6, from heart complications. He was 43 years old.
Kogoya became general secretary of FBCP and pastor of the Baptist Church in Mount Wachno Kotaraja, Jayapura, in West Papua, in 2002, and served in both positions until the time of his death.
He began his involvement in ministry from he was in his teen years, and began working with the FBCP shortly after his theological studies, eventually being appointed as assistant general secretary.
As a child, his family got caught up in the fight for self-determination in Papua. During the war between the Indonesian military and the Free Papua Movement, which began in 1977 and lasted into the 1980s, the Indonesian military and local militia backed by the military set fire to his village, from which the family escaped.
He earned degrees and diplomas from the Jayapura Baptist Theological Institute.
He leaves wife Esther Wenda and three sons, Charles (12), Endrikus (7), and Krisman (5).
|In Memoriam: Antonio Pires|
Antonio Miguel Goncalves Pires, former president of the Portuguese Baptist Convention (PBC) and president of the Evangelical Alliance of Portugal, died on May 7, shortly before his 51st birthday.
Pires was born to Portuguese missionary parents in Angola in West Africa, and later served as a missionary in Mozambique in southeastern Africa from 1993 to 1999. He had returned to Portugal as a 14 year old and, several years later, answered a call to the Christian ministry. He played an integral role in helping to integrate immigrants from Eastern European countries, such as from Ukraine and Moldova, into the PBC.
Pires was executive secretary of the PBC youth program from 1984 to 1990, and was a member of the Executive of the European Baptist Federation Youth Committee from 1988 to 1991. He was PBC president from 2002-2008, and was a former member of the General Council of the Baptist World Alliance.
He earned degrees and diplomas from the Baptist Theological Seminary in Queluz, in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area of Portugal, and was pastor of the Baptist Church in Queluz.
He is survived by wife Isabel, and children Jonathan, David and Priscilla.
Funeral services were held on May 9 in Queluz.
|In Memoriam: John Jonsson|
John Jonsson, a past president of the Baptist Union of Southern Africa and the South African Baptist Missionary Society, died on May 26, in Johannesburg, age 86 years old.
The son of Lutheran missionary parents, Jonsson was baptized in the Central Baptist Church in Durban at 18 years old. He earned degrees and diplomas from Spurgeon's College and the University of London in the United Kingdom, and at the University of Natal in South Africa. He pastored churches in Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
Jonsson, a noted theologian, was principal of the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa in Johannesburg from 1966-1971; and lecturer at Witwatersrand University from 1971-1975 and the University of Natal from 1976-1981. He co-founded Treverton College, an independent, co-educational, inter-denominational Christian school founded on a Baptist heritage.
He became active in the anti-apartheid movement and ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the South African parliament in 1977.
Jonsson moved to the United States in 1982 and filled the W.O. Carver Chair as professor of Christian Missions and World Religions at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He left for Baylor University (BU) in Texas in 1992 to become professor of religion and director of the African Studies program. He retired from this position in 2002 and returned to South Africa. An annual lecture, the John N. Jonsson Peace and Justice Lecture Series, is held in his honor at BU.
In 1985, he signed the Kairos Document, which called on all churches to demand that the government give equal rights to all South Africans. As a result, the government took away his passport, and from 1985 to 1989, he was not allowed to enter South Africa.
He is a former member of the Baptist World Alliance Commission on Christian Ethics, the Commission on Human Rights, the Commission on Baptists Against Racism, and the World Evangelization Strategy Workgroup.
His books include Exploring the Ethos of Africa, Dying God in Christian Conscience, and Gandhi Alive: Reflections on the Gandhi File in South Africa.
He leaves wife Gladys and children Lois, Sylvia, and Sven. He was predeceased by a son, David, in 1963.
Funeral services will be held on June 3 at Rosebank Union Church in Hurlingham, a suburb of Johannesburg.
|Movements and Changes|
Ashim Baroi is general secretary for the Bangladesh Baptist Church Sangha, effective May 1
Kanailal Giri is the new president of the Bengal Orissa Bihar Baptist Churches Association
Raffaele Volpe has been elected president of the Christian Evangelical Baptist Union of Italy, succeeding Anna Maffei
Trinidad and Tobago
Francis Ivan Baptiste was elected president of the Baptist Union of Trinidad and Tobago
Back to top
To Malkhaz Songulashvili, Primate of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia, who received the Order of Christ the Savior from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kievan Patriarchate, "for strengthening friendly relations between Christian churches and for his support to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church."
Back to top
Baptist World Aid
|BWAid grants for the months of April and May 2011|
Grants recorded in United States dollars unless otherwise noted
Libya and Tunisia
Medical assistance for refugees- 5,000.00Malawi
Food Aid Relief - 10,000.00AsiaPhilippines
Typhoon Rehabilitation - 15,000.11
Construction -- Delmas 19 School and Orphanage - 72,355.00Back 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 June we will remember the following:
May 29-June 4
Baptist Convention of Namibia
Baptist Association of South Africa
Baptist Convention of South Africa
Baptist Mission of South Africa
Baptist Union of Southern Africa
Baptists scattered throughout Lesotho and Swaziland
Baptist Convention of Angola
Baptist Evangelical Church in AngolaFreedom Baptist Church in Angola
Baptist Convention of Mozambique
Brazilian Baptist Convention
National Baptist Convention of Brazil
Argentina Baptist Association
Evangelical Baptist Convention of Argentina
Baptist Evangelical Convention of Paraguay
Baptist Evangelical Convention of Uruguay
June 26-July 2
Baptist Convention of Bolivia
Baptist Union of Bolivia
Convention of Baptist Churches of the Chilean Mission
Union of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Chile
Baptist Evangelical Convention of Peru
European Baptist Federation Mission Conference, Elstal, Germany, June 7-10
Baptist Youth World Day of Prayer, June 12
Caribbean Baptist Fellowship Sunday, June 19
Asia Pacific Baptist Federation Men's Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 1-2
Asia Pacific Baptist Federation General Council, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 4
BWA Youth Department International Program Committee, Singapore, July 11-13