|From the General Secretary |
By Neville Callam
I never had the privilege of meeting the great American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr. His grandson, Reinhold Richard Niebuhr, was a professor at one of the institutions where I trained for the Christian ministry.
Many years ago I read Reinhold Niebuhr's book, An Interpretation of Christian Ethics (1935). This was when I was captive to pietism and had not yet grappled adequately with the relation of ethics and justification. What grabbed my attention was the author's claim that "[t]he ethical demands made by Jesus are incapable of fulfillment in the present existence of [humankind]." What concerned me most was my inability to find a compelling argument to refute Niebuhr's claim that "only when God transmutes the present chaos of this world into its final unity" can Jesus' ethical demands find full expression.
It does not take very long for disciples of Christ who wish to practice complete loyalty to their Lord to discover the reality of failure in their own lives and in the lives of others. Hardly can we with justification deny the impossibility of the Christian ethical ideal.
Truth is, many outstanding servants of God whom many contemporary Christians revere are found to have been people with feet of clay. As ordinary mortals, none were perfect; nor did they at any time lay claim to perfection. Consider Baptist pioneers John Smyth and Thomas Helwys, for example.
In his last literary work, which was published posthumously, The Last Book of John Smyth Called the Retraction of His Errors and the Confirmation of the Truth, John Smyth confessed that his "contention for outward matters" broke "the rules of love and charity, which is the superior law." He said his words had been "stout and mingled with gall, and therefore has the Lord repaid [him] full measure." "For my part," he added, "the Lord has taught me thereby."
Thomas Helwys was an intolerant man. He had no qualms, for example, about consigning to perdition those who served as bishops and died without renouncing their claims to such an office. He explained that those whom he termed "simple-hearted" shared their bishop's doom. Notwithstanding this, God chose to make an appeal for tolerance through an intolerant man! This intolerant man was persuaded that even those whose "errors" he felt were clearly revealed in Scripture, were entitled to respect for their consciences.
It is impossible to fulfill perfectly the demands of Christian love. Yet, thanks to God's amazing love, frail human beings pursuing Christian discipleship discover that God knows how to forgive us when we fall and to lift us up again. God chooses to work through us in spite of our weaknesses. How blest are we! Not surprisingly, we hesitate to be overly harsh in our dealings with people who do not share our faith or moral convictions.
Let us be careful about refusing to have fellowship with people whose views are not identical to ours. If we dialogue only with those who agree with us or who show a strong likelihood of being converted to our viewpoint and lifestyle, we need to wake up to the reality of our own imperfections. When we do, we will be able to affirm that all of us who are on the pilgrimage of faith have feet of clay and, indeed, we know only in part. Thankfully, when the "final fulfillment" comes - to draw upon Niebuhr again - the era of "the impossible ideal" will be past. So we pray, "Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!"
|What BWA Member Bodies are Doing|
African Baptist Assembly, Malawi
The African Baptist Assembly, Malawi, grew out of the Zambezi Industrial Mission founded by British missionary Joseph Booth and the Providence Industrial Mission (PIM) founded by Malawian Baptist pastor John Chilembwe, in 1892 and 1900, respectively.
By 1912, the PIM developed into seven schools with approximately 1,000 pupils and 800 adult students.
Malawian Baptists have had a long history of agitating for social justice. In January 1915, Chilembwe, a national hero whose image is on the country's currency, led protests against racism and exploitation of Africans by British colonialists that led to his execution in February of that year. John Chilembwe Day is observed in Malawi on January 15 each year.
The Assembly, the oldest Baptist group in Malawi and one of three that is a member body of the Baptist World Alliance, has more than 72,000 members in more than 800 churches.
Among ministries undertaken by the Assembly are several primary and secondary schools and the S. Willie Layton Memorial Hospital for Women, a maternity hospital dedicated in 1984. The church body also engages in hunger relief and HIV/AIDS ministry.
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First Baptist Church
Richmond, Virginia, United States
First Baptist Church of Richmond (FBC), located in the capital city of Virginia in the United States, seeks to minister effectively to its local community, but also recognizes its role as a member of the larger worldwide family of believers.
Mission is a strong emphasis of the church. The church, which originated in 1780 at a prayer meeting held in the midst of the Revolutionary War, and which was the first Baptist church to be established in a Virginia city, was also the first in the state to have a missionary society for women, and the first in the country to send its own members as missionaries to Africa.
In 1815, Deacon William Crane opened a school for slaves where they could learn reading, writing and arithmetic and study the Bible. As a result of this ministry of the church, two of Crane's students, Lott Cary and Collin Teague, purchased their freedom and went to Liberia in 1821 to serve as missionaries.
FBC recognizes that "our Lord has chosen local churches such as ours to fulfill His work of compassionate outreach and evangelism" and states that "our passion is to see people come to know and worship God in Jesus Christ here in Richmond and throughout the world. We do not seek to fulfill this commitment alone but in cooperation with others of like mind."
FBC has established partnerships with churches and ministries within the USA and other countries. These partnerships are "an avenue of transformation as we go not only to share our God-given gifts but to receive what God has in store for us through Spirit-filled relationships."
A partnership with the Baptist Church of Salzburg, Austria, began in 2000. Teams from FBC travel and serve at the request of the Austrian church; on several occasions teams from Salzburg have also served at FBC. Partnerships have also been established with churches and organizations in Curitiba, Brazil; Xi'an, China; the Pacific Rim; Honduras; Toronto, Canada; the Middle East; and South Africa, among others. FBC teams have taught English, conducted camps for children, engaged in HIV/AIDS ministry and medical missions, and other activities.
In addition to their international work, FBC is involved in an array of local ministries designed to meet the physical, material and spiritual needs of individuals in the Richmond community. Such ministries include a food pantry, clothes closet, and employment assistance. The urban church also provides services to the homeless. At-risk youth, single mothers, prisoners and international students attending a local college are all recipients of FBC's local ministry efforts.
FBC, a Global Impact Church that supports Baptist World Alliance, is actively involved in the mission and ministry of the BWA. A former BWA President, Theodore Adams, who served from 1955-1960, came from FBC. Steve Blanchard, associate pastor, said, "We believe in the mission of the BWA and want to align ourselves with other Baptists, as well as other Christians, to make a difference in the world in the name of Jesus Christ for the betterment of God's Kingdom."
|In Memoriam: Lewis May|
Lewis May, a former president and general secretary of the Seventh Day Baptist (SDB) General Conference, died on October 4, 2011, in Arcadia, California, in the United States. He was 82 years old.
May, a former member of the General Council of the Baptist World Alliance, was a physician who, among other appointments, was chief of staff of the Methodist Hospital in Arcadia. He previously served as a flight surgeon in the US Air Force from 1954-1956 and worked in his own private practice for more than 50 years. Active in his community, he was a member of the board of the Arcadia School District from 1971-1983.
He was elected president of the SDB General Conference in 1967 and served that body as its part time executive secretary from 1999-2003.
May earned his medical degree from the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
He leaves wife Nancy and sons Charles, Cass, Matthew, and Pete.
Funeral services were held October 22 at the Riverside SDB Church in California.
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|For bequest in memory of Beverly Dunston Scott |
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|Movements and Changes|
Keith Jobberns, elected general secretary (national leader) succeeding Brian Winslade, of Australia Baptist Ministries (Baptist Union of Australia)
Luke Shaw, elected president, succeeding Cawley Bolt, of the Jamaica Baptist Union
U Zaw Win, elected president, succeeding Saw Mar Gay Gyi, and Yam Kho Pau, elected general secretary, succeeding U Zaw Win, of the Myanmar Baptist Convention
Baptist World Aid
|BWAid grants for the months of January and February 2012|
Grants recorded in United States dollars unless otherwise noted
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Agricultural Project 7,000.00
IDP Resettlement 5,000.00
Orphan Education and Training 9,540.00
Early Childhood Development Center 10,000.00
Education for girls 6,600.00
Flood Relief 8,850.00
Rural Health Development 10,000.00
Community Development & Disaster Risk Reduction 27,825.00
Earthquake Rehabilitation 48,480.00
Silo Project Phase Two 8,120.00
School and Orphanage Construction - 29,971.75Worldwide
Micah Network 1,000.00Back 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 March we will remember the following:
March 4-10Baptist Union of Austria
Union of Baptist Churches in Switzerland
Baptists scattered throughout Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino
Myanmar Baptist Convention
Self Supporting Kayin Baptist Mission Society
12th District of Church of Christ in Thailand
Thailand Baptist Convention
Thailand Karen Baptist Convention
Thailand Lahu Baptist Convention
March 18-24Cambodia Baptist Union
Baptist Churches in VietnamBaptists scattered throughout
Baptist Convention of Hong Kong
Macau Baptists Association
Baptists scattered throughout China
North American Baptist Fellowship
Annual Gathering, Falls Church, Virginia, USA, March 8-9
European Baptist Federation
Executive Committee, March 23-25, Cairo, Egypt