|From the General Secretary |
Hear the Spirit: Proclamation 2
By Neville Callam
Last month, we noted the importance of the calling to proclaim the Gospel audibly and legibly. The church should never resile from its obligation to preach the Gospel. Yet, important as preaching is, some people do not regard preaching as encompassing the whole of the ministry of proclamation, which the Holy Spirit enables the church to execute.
Some Christians explain that an effective program of proclamation must include the service of both word and deed. They point out that, in some contexts where the need for proclamation is evident, people may best receive the Good News when it is conveyed in action rather than solely in speech. In such situations, action reflects undeniably the selflessness and love that bear salutary witness to the love of God modeled by our Lord Jesus.
Deeds of kindness and acts of mercy marked the ministry of Jesus, who "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38). He declared the Good News of the kingdom while also "healing every disease and sickness among the people" (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; Cf. Matthew 11:5 & Luke 7:22). He proclaimed the Good News (Mark 1:14), but he also fed the hungry (Mark 6.30-44; Luke 9.10-17; John 6.1-14). He emphasized that "this Gospel must be preached" (Matthew 24:14), but he also clarified some of the issues that lay behind people's suffering (e.g. Luke 12:13-21; 14:12-14; 18:22-23). Besides, as Walter Rauschenbusch showed clearly, the kingdom of love that Jesus inaugurates calls forth the social redemption of all people (Cf. Matthew 7:21; 25:33-35, etc.). According to Rauschenbusch the kingdom of God "embraces the whole of human life" and the "kingdom ideal contains the revolutionary force of Christianity."
Our Lord calls us to a ministry marked by our identifying with people in need and our engaging in action to liberate and empower them to overcome whatever represents an assault on their dignity. As Uruguayan theologian, Juan Luis Segundo, once said, "Whatever one may think about the political neutrality of Jesus himself, it seems evident that his commandment of love and his countless examples and admonitions concerning it in the Gospels must be translated to an era in which real-life love has taken on political forms." It is naive to presume that "love can be apolitical at all in a world where politics is the fundamental human dimension."
In his letter from Birmingham jail, Martin Luther King explained that, after collecting facts, engaging in negotiations and self-purification, he and those who followed him had no choice but to "prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the local and the national community." And they did this because of the conviction that "oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever." Sometimes, talk is not enough and this is the case even when there is no clear contest over what it means to be just.
Even if Ernst Troeltsch did not fully comprehend Luther's conception of the Pauline construct of the relation of the religious and the social factor, he was certainly right in pointing out that Paul was deeply committed to "the mutual service of all to each, the overcoming of evil with good, the strengthening of the good in the fight against evil... and the lifting up of the weak by the strong." Sometimes, words are not enough.
To fulfill the ministry of proclamation by deed, we need to hear the Spirit. It is the Spirit who quickens us to discern the ways in which we need to bear witness to Christ. It is the Spirit who enables us to dare take the bold steps that are required to help people in need. Because they see in our action the manifestation of the values we claim to believe, they are better able both to understand the message we preach and to take seriously the message we announce. By the grace of God, some will come to God earnestly seeking, and faithfully accepting, that precious gift that leads to eternal life.
Are we not challenged to Hear the Spirit and to proclaim in both word and deed the message of the one who is able to transfer us from the kingdom of darkness to the wonderful realm of divine grace? Word and deed become vehicles through which to communicate the life-transforming message -- the message we have received and desire others to know.
|What BWA Member Bodies are Doing|
Union of Evangelical Christian-Baptists of Russia
The Union of Evangelical Christian-Baptists (RUECB) of Russia has a tradition that goes back to the 1860s. It comprises approximately 75,000 baptized believers in 87 church districts in roughly 1,300 local congregations.
By 1912 there were an estimated 115,000 Baptists and 31,000 evangelical Christians in the Russian empire. Both Baptists and evangelicals merged to form the All Union Council of Evangelical Christians-Baptists in 1944.
Baptists and evangelicals experienced severe persecution during the Soviet era, particularly during the 1920s through to the early 1940s, with thousands killed, imprisoned, sent to labor camps, or exiled.
In the early 1960s, membership was estimated at more than 500,000. After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, which resulted in new countries such as Georgia, Ukraine and Belarus having their own Baptist conventions and unions, the RUECB became the largest representative group for Baptists in the Russian Federation.
Baptist spirituality in Russia is "a multi-dimensional fusion of Russian and Western spirituality, an organic combination of Eastern and Western Christianity."
Baptists in the largest country on earth are engaged in a range of spiritual, educational and charitable activities in healthcare, "correctional facilities" and schools.
A major mission initiative by Russian Baptists was a series of tours, the first a transcontinental bike tour which began in May 2007 and ending in September of that year. The tour started in Varel, Germany, and ended in Vladivostok, Russia, covering some 14,711 kilometers or 9,102 miles.
Another bike tour into Siberia and other areas of the Far North took place early 2008 covering some 4,000 kilometers or 2,400 miles. The tour's objectives included conducting evangelism, visiting missionaries "living in very remote and nearly inaccessible locales," and making contacts "with many non-RUECB congregations of Baptist orientation."
Russian Baptists engaged in a 10,000 kilometer motorized expedition in early 2009 from Moscow to central Siberia just north of the country of Mongolia. The team visited Baptist congregations as well as migrant workers and a number of the country's 182 language and ethnic minorities.
The union, its districts and churches are involved in a number of initiatives to combat drug addiction and alcoholism with emphases on Bible study, prayer, confession, and personal relationships, along with psychological and medical help.
The RUECB is part of the Christian Inter-confessional Council in the CIS and the Baltic which includes the Russian Orthodox Church and Roman Catholics. The organization cooperates on a number of ethical and social issues.
The Moscow Theological Seminary, which merged with the Moscow Theological Institute, is affiliated with the RUECB and is the country's main theological training institution for Baptists.
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Immanuel Baptist Church
Minot, North Dakota, United States
Immanuel Baptist Church (IBC) in Minot, North Dakota, in the United States, was established in 1954 and is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA and the American Baptist Churches of the Dakotas.
Its ministries include a soup kitchen that provides free meals for the community; Handiworks, a prayer shawl ministry composed of men and women of all ages and denominations interested in knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching or making tied fleece blankets; and a visitation and tape ministry for those that are unable to attend worship.
The American Baptist Women of IBC contribute annually to the White Cross support program with material goods and cash gifts for the support of missionary work.
Among the congregation's core beliefs are the spiritual unity of all believers, and the need for a worldwide program of mission and evangelism.
The Baptist World Alliance Global Impact Church adopts as its core mandate the "proclaiming and sharing the gospel, God's love, grace and mercy through Jesus Christ," and has covenanted to provide "for the relief of the poor and for the spread of the Gospel throughout the world."
|Movements and Changes|
Priyantha Wijegoonawardene, installed president of the Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya (Union), August 27, succeeding Kingsley Perera.
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|Anniversaries and Milestones|
200th anniversary celebration of Baptist witness in Sri Lanka, April 2012
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|New degree program|
|Palmer Theological Seminary near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States, an American Baptist Churches USA-affiliated institution, is offering a new Master of Theological Studies degree.|
The degree is a blended online program that students around the world can earn without relocating to the United States.
Further information can be obtained at www.palmerseminary.edu or email email@example.com.
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Baptist World Aid
|BWAid grants for the months of August and September 2011|
Grants recorded in United States dollars unless otherwise noted
Landslide and Flood Relief - 10,000.00KenyaReconciliation Conference for Kenya Peace
- 4,523.00Democratic Republic of the Congo
Malnutrition Relief and Farming help - 6,249.00AsiaBangladesh
Integrated Social Development Program -
Health and Education Project -
Flood Relief and Rehabilitation - 5,000.00
CambodiaRice Distribution Program
- 8,750.00MyanmarPost Cyclone Nargis recovery projects
IDP Relief - 10,000.00Thailand
Refugee Camp Flood Relief - 10,000.00CaribbeanHurricane Irene Relief
School and Orphanage Construction - 169,140.00South AmericaBrazilPost Flood Rehabilitation Relief
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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 October we will remember the following:
Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists in Kyrgyzstan
Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists of Middle Asia (Uzbekistan)
Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship
Bangladesh Baptist Church Sangha
Garo Baptist Convention of Bangladesh
Nepal Baptist Church Council
Assam Baptist Convention
Baptist Church of Mizoram
Baptist Union of North India
Bengal Baptist Union
Bengal Orissa Bihar Baptist Churches Association
Evangelical Baptist Convention of India
Convention Baptist Church of the Northern Circars
Garo Baptist Convention of India
India Association of General Baptists
India Baptist Convention
Karbi Anglong Baptist Convention
Karnataka Baptist Convention
Lairam Jesus Christ Baptist Church
Lower Assam Baptist Union
Maharashtra Baptist Society
Manipur Baptist Convention
Nagaland Baptist Church Council
North Bank Baptist Christian Association
Orissa Baptist Evangelistic Crusade
Tripura Baptist Christian Union
Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya (Union)
October 23-29 Association of Bible Baptist Churches in Madagascar
Caribbean Baptist Fellowship Officers and Executive meetings, Kingston, Jamaica, October 19 and 20.