|From the General Secretary |
An Appeal to Church Historians
By Neville Callam
Recently, I read the book, New Century/New Directions edited by James and Carole Spickelmier. The volume helpfully brings together insights from a number of carefully chosen persons who are committed to the effectiveness of Converge Worldwide, the organization under review. The result is a very useful product! We commend the authors and the Baptist organization they serve for supporting a publication of this kind. They reflect the maturity and openness that are required of all church leaders who affirm their role as servants of Christ.
While reading New Century/New Directions, I remembered something that Socrates said many years ago. Not everything that Socrates said is worth repeating, but perhaps few persons would challenge one of the sayings attributed to him at his trial for heresy - An unexamined life is not worth living.
This maxim is as applicable to the life of individuals as it is to that of organizations. However much we try to dodge the language of institutions, substituting for it the language of movements, as Hugo Heclo has so expertly explained in his book, Thinking Institutionally, there is no escaping the significant role that institutions play in our lives. We may seriously distrust institutions, but institutions fulfill community-building and community-supporting roles that connect us to purposes that are larger than ourselves.
To retain vitality in an organization - which, of course, is not identical with an institution, but which is closely related to it - one indispensable requirement is the periodic subjection of the organization's aims and modus operandi to rigorous evaluation. If done fairly and thoroughly, this is likely to help governors, managers and all "stake holders" associated with a particular organization to be aware of the tendency to depart from the lofty, and still reasonable, goals espoused when the organization was born. It will also alert those concerned of the inclination to resort to strategies, methods and approaches that are no longer effective.
The analysis of what an ecclesial organization does may be undertaken by persons from several fields of study. From the work they do, much can be learned and needed changes may result. In many cases, however, those who are called upon to undertake the task are handicapped by many personal factors that impinge upon their work. Sometimes, personal agendas mar clear vision. Especially when dealing with worldwide organizations, too often, evaluators work with templates from their own residential geographical sphere, believing that these offer great clues that enable them to provide answers to the peculiar challenges that face multi- and cross-cultural organizations with a global reach.
Competent historians, and especially gifted church historians, are among those on whom we depend as we seek clarity on how our church-related organizations are pursuing their mission. These men and women have an important vocation to assist the church and its related organizations in the critical evaluation of their life. Part of the reason for this is the penchant for good historians to take context seriously. The capacity to understand the relationship between context and process enables historians to interpret trends and offer insights that can help advance positive developments and reverse negative trends.
Ecclesial organizations need church historians who focus on happenings of yesteryear; this is a function the church needs them to perform. We also need historians who are willing to risk analysis of more recent, and also contemporary, situations and to make available to the church community the benefit of their carefully honed research and analytical skills. This is part of the responsible stewardship of church historians.
If the unexamined life is not worth living, the unexamined life of organizations may cause them to be banished to the scrap heap of history. This may be prevented if those whom God has gifted for the task put their hands to the plough and produce material that can help guide those who must make decisions that affect the future of vital organizations. The findings of gifted church historians may not cause accolades to be heaped on their heads. Nevertheless, their contribution could potentially help church organizations, like the Baptist World Alliance, to be more faithful in the way they fulfill the mandate the triune God has given them.
|What BWA Member Bodies are Doing|
Singapore Baptist Convention
The Singapore Baptist Convention (SBC) was established in 1974 and now comprises a little more than 2,100 members in 36 congregations across five associations.
With mission at the core of its ministry, SBC declares that "it is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations." In fulfillment of this core belief, SBC has, among other things, engaged in a number of local and overseas mission endeavors. Its EnGuang Outreach focuses on Chinese migrant workers in Singapore. SBC's Mission Base in the Riau Archipelago, a group of islands within the Riau Islands Province in Indonesia and located south of Singapore, is engaged in outreach to children and youth and home visits to the islanders. Baptist Medical Mission mobilizes doctors, nurses and other health professionals to respond to disasters and organizes medical mission trips to other countries.
Baptists in Singapore are currently engaged in two major projects: construction work on a new Baptist Center, which includes renovation of four levels housing the Baptist Theological Seminary, and the hosting of the 16th Baptist Youth World Conference, planned by the Baptist World Alliance, in July 2013, where it is expected that some 6,000 youth from approximately 100 countries will attend.
SBC continues its mission to encourage the spreading of the Christian gospel, promote Christian fellowship and cooperation, plant churches and develop church work, and to advance Christian education.
Calvary Baptist Church
White Plains, New York City, USA
Calvary Baptist Church in White Plains, New York City, in the United States, lives up to its unofficial motto, "The church in the heart of the community."
The congregation, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2010, engages in ministries to the wider community. Of importance to the congregation are justice issues, and it has offered support, including participation in public marches, where it believes public and security authorities violated the civil rights of citizens.
Reaching out to the weak, the sick, the incarcerated and dispossessed are among the mission initiatives undertaken by the church, such as visits to nursing homes, hospitals and to shut-ins, including by the church's choir which ministers to residents who are in institutional care. The congregation's ministerial staff goes to the Sing Sing Correctional Facility to hold worship services as well as to offer counseling to inmates.
The Baptist World Alliance Global Impact Church participates in programs to feed the homeless through a soup kitchen and a food pantry, done in collaboration with other congregations, and works with Habitat for Humanity in the construction of homes for persons in the community. It operates a Haiti relief fund to assist families in Haiti, particularly those still suffering the effects of the earthquake that devastated the capital Port-au-Prince in January 2010.
Ministry to youth and young adults are a priority, done through the Sunday School, where more than 200 persons attend each Sunday, and the Festus Webb Scholarship for college students.
Members at Calvary see themselves as "a people of prayer, praise and worship."
|In Memoriam: Andre Thobois|
Andre Thobois, former president of the Federation of Evangelical Baptist Churches of France, died on March 26. He was 88 years old.
Born in 1924 in Ardin (Deux-Sevres), Thobois was ordained to the Christian ministry in 1949 after studying at the Faculty of Protestant Theology in Paris.
He was president of the French Baptist union from 1963 to 1987 after serving as vice president from 1957-1963. An ecumenist, Thobois was vice president of the Protestant Federation of France between 1968 and 1992, and was head of the French Bible Society from 1975 to 1997. He also co-chaired the first Baptist-Catholic Joint Committee in France between 1981 and 1987 and was a member of the Council of Christian Churches in France.
Thobois was pastor of the Avenue du Maine Baptist Church in Paris from 1950 to 1990. A teacher and well known speaker, he was chairman of the Free Faculty of Evangelical Theology in Vaux-sur-Seine from 1984-1994. He authored several books and was a frequent contributor to the magazine, Baptist Believe and Serve.
He served the Baptist World Alliance in a number of capacities, including as a member of the General Council and Executive Committee. Thobois was also a member, at various times, of the Commission on Baptist Doctrine and Interchurch Cooperation, the Commission on Evangelism and Mission, the Commission on Christian Teaching and Training, and the National Evangelism Workgroup.
A service of thanksgiving was held on March 31 at the Avenue du Maine Baptist Church.
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|In Memoriam: H.S. Luaia|
H.S. Luaia, former general secretary and mission secretary of the Baptist Church of Mizoram (BCM), died on April 8, Easter Sunday, in Serkawn, Mizoram state, India. He was 104 years old.
Luaia, who was general secretary of BCM for 25 years, from 1946-1971, and mission secretary from 1971-1977, played a key role in the peacemaking process in Mizoram when insurgency swept throughout the state, helping to negotiate peace between Mizo nationalists and the Indian government.
He presented a number of papers at conferences, and had articles published in leading journals. He published a memoir, My Life Journey, when he was in his 90s, that details much of the history of Baptists in Mizoram, one of India's northeastern states.
In recognition of his life's work and service, Luaia was conferred with the Doctor of Divinity degree by the Senate of Serampore, a theological accreditation body in India.
He is survived by his youngest son and other family members.
Funeral services were held on the afternoon of April 8 at the Serkawn Local Church at the the BCM headquarters.
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|Movements and Changes|
|Union of Baptists in Latin America
|Parrish Jácome of Ecuador, elected general secretary, succeeding Alberto Prokopchuk of Argentina, of the Union of Baptists in Latin America CubaJuan Carlos Rojas, elected president, succeeding Victor Gonzalez; and Alberto Gonzalez, elected general secretary, succeeding Juan Carlos Rojas, of the Baptist Convention of Western CubaBack to top
To Jeannette Marzen for gift in memory of Norma L. Pugh
Baptist World Aid
|BWAid grants for the months of March and April 2012|
Grants recorded in United States dollars unless otherwise noted
Central African Republic
Psycho-Social Care 9,000.00
Self Help Groups 12,000.00
Development Consultation 15,000.00
Integrated Social Development Program 5,000.00
Community Development & Disaster Risk Reduction 25,326.00
Disaster Recovery 46,666.00
Refugee Assistance 5,000.00
Furnishing of School and Orphanage 10,000.00Back 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 May we will remember the following:
April 29-May 5Baptist Evangelical Association of Ethiopia
Ethiopia Addis Kidan Baptist Church
Sudan Interior ChurchBaptist Convention of South Sudan
Baptist Union of Uganda
Uganda Baptist Convention
Baptist Convention of Tanzania
Baptist Convention of Kenya
African Baptist Assembly, Malawi, Inc.
Baptist Convention of Malawi
Evangelical Baptist Church of Malawi
Baptist Convention of Zambia
Baptist Union of Zambia
Baptist Fellowship of Zambia
May 27-Jun 2
Baptist Convention of Botswana
Baptist Convention of Zimbabwe
Baptist Union of Zimbabwe
National Baptist Convention of Zimbabwe
United Baptist Church of Zimbabwe
All Africa Baptist Fellowship
All Africa Baptist Fellowship West Africa Sub-Region Leadership Conference, Ibadan, Nigeria, May 25-27