|From the General Secretary |
Proximity to Political Power
By Neville Callam
Ever since Constantine adopted a more tolerant attitude toward the church, followers of Christ have been at risk of dancing to the music from the halls of political power and finding ways of justifying edicts coming from the political sphere. In this 400th year of the publication of Thomas Helwys' A Declaration on the Mystery of Iniquity, we reaffirm the danger of pursuing religious ends by seeking proximity to political power.
We salute Thomas Helwys for not courting political favor. Because he understood his ultimate accountability to God, rather than the state, and distanced himself sufficiently from the sources of political power, he was able to reflect responsibly on how political power ought to be exercised.
Members of the church can learn from Helwys' attitude to those who hold political power. Because he understood the exercise of political authority as part of God's ordering of creation, Helwys was prepared to respect the king. Some may argue that Helwys overstated the case for respect for political authority. They understand Helwys to be implying, in the way he described the authority and role of people in politics, a certain bifurcation of life into mutually exclusive realms with the king ruling in one and the church in the other. This reading of Helwys suggests that a wedge exists between Christian conduct in the private domain and in the public sphere. As a result, the church's role as advocate and participant in the public life of society is marginalized.
This way of reading Helwys is reminiscent of what I consider Ernst Troeltsch's error in his interpretation of Martin Luther's social doctrine. As with Luther, so with Helwys, religion is not merely an inner spiritualistic phenomenon.
I do not support the suggestion that Helwys intended a strict divide between the personal and private sphere, on the one hand, and the public and official domain, on the other. Such an interpretation is inconsistent with Helwys' support for Christians participating in politics and the king's membership in the church. What Helwys urged, I believe, was an understanding of the two realms as related and overlapping, rather than as autonomous and discrete compartments. Whatever position one takes on this controversial matter, we can agree that Helwys denounced excess in the exercise of political authority and sought to correct the ways of its purveyors.
When church leaders and members free themselves from the allurement of proximity to political power, they allow themselves space to more easily discern the promptings of the Spirit of God. Receiving vital insight into the value God places on each human being, we can affirm the inviolable dignity and inalienable rights due them - including the right of religious liberty that Helwys so admirably advanced.
|What BWA Member Bodies are Doing|
Swedish Baptist Union of Finland
Baptists in Finland are divided by language into two separate unions, the Finnish-speaking Baptist Union and the Swedish-speaking Baptist Union.
In 1856, a small group of Swedish believers were baptized secretly in Finland. The first Finnish believers were baptized in 1870. Prior to the 19th century occupation of Finland by the Russian Empire, Finland was under Swedish hegemony. The Finns gained independence after World War I.
The Swedish and Finnish Baptist unions were one union until 1902 when two separate unions were formed due to cultural differences.
The Swedish Baptist Union of Finland, which has a little more than 1,000 members in 18 churches, has had a long history of missionary engagement, beginning in the late 1800s. It conducts several overseas mission projects, supervised by its mission committee.
From the mid-1950s to the 1980s, the union sent missionaries to Africa, mainly to the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.
Working with the Christian Center for the Development of People with Disabilities in Thailand, the union participates in ministry to disabled children in Mae Sariang in northwest Thailand. An important component of this mission is the education of disabled children and to help them integrate into the regular school system.
The union also has an outreach to orphans in Luanshya, Zambia. These orphans suffer from a number of social problems caused by, among other things, the closure of copper mines in the area, leading to a severe recession in the town, and HIV infection that led to a large number of deaths among adults. There are an estimated 26,000 orphans in Luanshya alone, a town of roughly 118,000 residents.
Of significance to the Swedish Baptists in Finland is the celebration of the 120th anniversary of its magazine, first published in 1892 while preparations are being made for its annual summer conference in June.
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Tallowood Baptist Church
Houston Texas, United States
Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, in the United States, has mission at its core. It currently supports eight new church plants, including one in Niteroi, Brazil, and another in Berlin, Germany. Each year, the church participates in a number of mission trips. In 2012, trips are planned for Guinea Bissau in Africa, Moldova in Europe, as well as Brazil.
In addition, Tallowood supports several language and cultural congregations at its main campus in Texas, including congregations for Latino, Chinese, Burmese, Russian and Sudanese immigrants. Constituted in 1962, Tallowood conducts mission activities at nursing homes, apartments, and inner city churches.
Ministries of the church include the Tallowood Treasures Class for children with special needs. The Baptist World Alliance Global Impact Church also participates in several joint community initiatives with other partners, including Mission Centers of Houston where members donate their time, talents, food, and grocery bags to the centers' food bank; Open Door Mission, a faith-based recovery and rehabilitation shelter dedicated to transforming the lives of the addicted, destitute, homeless or disabled; and Criminal Justice Prison Ministries.
Tallowood describes itself as "a healthy, Christ-centered church making disciples through worship, instruction, service and evangelism." It is 'committed to being a church for the Kingdom of God growing not only through addition of disciples... but multiplication through church planting," it declares. "Over the next 30 years, we dream of planting 30 churches which will plant church-planting churches taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth."
|In Memoriam:Samson Chowdhury|
Samson Chowdhury, a vice president of the Baptist World Alliance between 1985 and 1990, died in hospital in Singapore on January 5, just short of his 86th birthday.
Chowdhury was one of Bangladesh's leading businessmen and industrialists. At the time of his death, he was chairman of Square Group, a company he cofounded in the 1950s. That company grew into one of the largest conglomerates in Bangladesh, with approximately 28,000 employees in various industries, such as cosmetics, textiles, agricultural products, information technology, health services, and media.
In addition to Square Group, Chowdhury served as chair of several other companies, including Mutual Trust Bank, Astras, Micro Industries Development and Services, and Central Depository Bangladesh. He held directorships on a number of other companies' boards.
Chowdhury was the founding president of the Bangladesh Association of Publicly Listed Companies, was president of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industries from 1996-1997, and was chairman of the Bangladesh chapter of Transparency International from 2004-2007.
He received a number of awards and recognitions. He was named Business Executive of the Year by the American Chamber in Bangladesh in 1998; was recognized by the Daily Star and DHL Worldwide Express as the Best Entrepreneur of Bangladesh for 2000-2001; received the Banker's Forum Award in 2005 for Business Ethics, Honesty and Transparency; was recognized by the National Board of Revenue as one of the top 10 tax payers of Bangladesh since 2005; and received Commercial Important Person status from the government of Bangladesh.
Chowdhury was born in 1926 and, after completing his education in India, returned to what was then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and settled at Ataikula village in Pabna district where his father worked as a medical officer. In 1952, he started a small pharmacy in Ataikula village in northwest Bangladesh. He ventured into a partnership pharmaceutical company with three friends in 1958. That partnership later became the Square Group.
In addition to being a BWA vice president, Chowdhury served in other areas of the global Baptist organization, including on the BWA General Council, the Executive Committee, the Baptist World Aid Committee, the Promotion and Development Committee, and the Memorial Committee.
Chowdhury was elected president of the Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship (BBCF) a dozen times, and was honorary general secretary for 14 years, between 1956 and 1969. He is a former president of both the National Church Council of Bangladesh and the National Evangelical Alliance.
"We remember Mr. Chowdhury's commitment to Christ, his selfless service and his exemplary deportment," BWA General Secretary Neville Callam said in tribute. "His dedication to the ministry of the BWA was evident in his generosity in supporting the BWA mission."
"Samson H. Chowdhury has made immense contributions to the development of various industrial sectors in the country," said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
"He was a rare example of honesty in business," said Anis Ud Dowla, chairman of ACI Group in Bangladesh.
He leaves wife Anita, sons Samuel, Anjan, and Tapan, who is president of the BBCF and a member of the BWA General Council, the Executive Committee and the Budget and Finance Committee, and daughter, Ratna Patra.
Funeral services were held on January 6 in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and burial on January 7 in his home district of Pabna.
|In Memoriam:William Isbell|
William Isbell, Jr., a former director of the Baptist World Alliance Men's Department, died on October 4, 2011, in Bessemer, Alabama, in the United States. He was 89 years old.
Isbell, a veterinarian, served Baptist men in various capacities over the years, including as secretary of the Baptist Brotherhood of the Alabama Baptist Convention for 13 years, during which time he developed the Royal Ambassadors Boys Camp at Shocco Springs; director of the Southern Baptist Convention's Brotherhood department from 1968-1977; and as an executive of Texas Baptist Men, where he was instrumental in building a hospitality house for prisoners' families to use during visits to Huntsville, location for the headquarters of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
He was BWA Men's Department Director from 1987-1991, a time during which a Baptist Men's Manual for Baptist men's groups around the world was published.
He is survived by his wife, Marynel; son, William III; and daughter, Marcia Faye.
Funeral services were held on October 7 at Hunter Street Baptist Church and October 8 at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Auburn, Alabama.
|In Memoriam:Bruce King|
Bruce King, former secretary of the Baptist Union of New South Wales (NSW), national director of Baptist World Aid Australia (BWAA), and a member of the Baptist World Aid Executive Committee of the Baptist World Alliance, died on November 5, 2011, in NSW, aged 85 years old.
King served as secretary of the Western Districts Baptist Association before being named secretary of the BU of NSW in January 1958, serving for 23 years, until December 1980. During his time as BU NSW secretary, he helped oversaw a number of major changes, including the relocation of both the Baptist Theological College of NSW and Baptist Church House, the headquarters for BU NSW, the largest of the state Baptist unions in Australia.
He became full time national director of BWAA in 1981, having served as honorary treasurer of its forerunner, Australian Baptist World Aid and Relief Committee, since its inception in 1959.
During 1986-1987 he was president of the BU NSW. After retiring from BWAA in 1990, King became the first general manager of Baptist Investment and Finance, since renamed Baptist Financial Services.
King served the BWA as vice chair of the Baptist World Aid Executive Committee in the 1980s and was treasurer of the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, one of six regional fellowships of the BWA, from 1994-1997.
In 1999, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the Australian and international communities and as an administrator in the Baptist church.
Predeceased by wife Lucille, he leaves sons Owen and Graeme, and daughters Helen and Roslyn.
Funeral services were held at the Forster Baptist Church in NSW on November 12.
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|In Memoriam: Lloyd Household|
Lloyd Householder, a past assistant vice president for the office of communications of the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (now LifeWay Christian Resources), and a former member of the Communications Committee of the Baptist World Alliance, died on January 30. He was 82 years old.
Householder was named director of the Sunday School Board's office of communication in 1977 before being promoted to assistant vice president in 1987.
He served as president of both the Religion Communicators Council and the Baptist Communicators Association, and held membership in the Public Relations Society of America, among other professional public relations organizations.
He earned degrees from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee, and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
In addition to being a member of the BWA Communications Committee, Householder was named to the Congress Program Committee that helped plan the 1995 Baptist World Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
He leaves wife Rose Marie, son Thom, and daughter Ashley.
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|In Memoriam: Jeffree James|
A. H. Jeffree James, president of the Baptist Union of Southern Africa from 1971-1972, has died.
Born in England in 1915, James served with the Protestant Truth Society in that country before migrating to South Africa in 1945, continuing his work with the Protestant Association of South Africa.
In addition to being president of the Baptist union, James served on its National Executive Committee for many years. He played a key role in the promotion of Baptist ministry within the Western Province Baptist Association, including the development of the Cape Town Baptist Seminary in its formative years. He helped to found Pinelands Baptist Church and other Baptist congregations.
A former chairman of the Bible Institute of South Africa, James also was instrumental in the formation of the Cornerstone Christian College, formerly known as the Cape Evangelical Bible Institute, and of George Whitfield College.
James opened a Christian bookshop in the heart of Cape Town and developed a partnership with Inter-Varsity Press which included printing locally and co-publishing several titles. He authored the book, A century of witness against racial discrimination and social injustice: resolutions of the Baptist Union of South Africa 1895-1987.
He was predeceased by wife Irene in 1989, and leaves sons Ivan, Hugh and Martin.
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|Thank You |
Gifts in memory of
To: Janet Moore for gift in memory of her father Howard Gregory
Carl Delaune in memory of mother Valentine Veit;
Don and Becky Sewell in memory of her parents Ray and Martha Graves
Reuben Pugh in memory of his father R. Quinn Pugh
Gifts in honor of
To: Jerry Smith for gift in honor of Sarah Rowland
Annette Bickers in honor of Tom and Jean Walch
Mr. and Mrs. Gene Boucher in honor of Gene and Rosalind Brymer
To Roy Medley, general secretary, American Baptist Churches USA, elected president of the National Council of Churches USA, effective January 1. He serves through to the end of December 2015.
|Movements and Changes|
Ratna Rai, elected president, succeeding Gagendra Khan Thakuri, and James Rai, elected general secretary, succeeding Ratna Rai, of the Nepal Baptist Church Council
Sören Carlsvärd, elected general secretary, succeeding Karin Wiborn, of the Baptist Union of Sweden
Mark Croston, elected president, Baptist General Association of Virgina, succeeding Robert Bass
David Hardage, elected executive director, Baptist General Convention of Texas, succeeding Randel Everett
Kendrick Curry, elected president, District of Columbia Baptist Convention, succeeding Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb
Baptist World Aid
|BWAid grants for the month of January 2012|
Grants recorded in United States dollars unless otherwise noted
Agriculture Initiative 324.00
School and Orphanage Construction - 16,000.00Back 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 February we will remember the following:
January 29-February 4
Finland Swedish Baptist Union
Finnish Baptist Union
Baptist Union of Denmark
Baptist Union of Sweden
Baptist Union of Norway,
Baptist Union of Great Britain
Baptist Union of Scotland
Baptist Union of Wales
Union of Baptist Churches in the Netherlands
Union of Baptist Churches in Belgium
Baptist Evangelical Christian Union of Italy
Portuguese Baptist Convention
Baptist Evangelical Union of Spain
February 26-March 3
International Baptist Convention (Germany)
Union of Evangelical Free Churches (Baptist) in Germany
Federation of Evangelical Baptist Churches in France
Africa Baptist Women's Day of Prayer, February 2
Asia Pacific Baptist Federation
Aid Committee, February 8; Leadership Symposium, February 9; Executive Committee, February 10-11; Auckland, New Zealand
Youth Day of Prayer, February 24