|From the General Secretary |
By Neville Callam
In a recent editorial in BWA Connect, I referred to the text of the official notice that the University of Wittenberg issued on the passing of Martin Luther in 1546. The notice prompted a reflection on "Heaven's Ambassadors" and the virtue we may cultivate of loving and respecting them.
The official notice of Luther's passing suggests another comment. The following is part of the text of the announcement: "During the funeral solemnities, let the scholars reflect on the blessings granted to the Church through this teacher, and give thanks to God for them." This is certainly something we may wish to do as we call to mind the many women and men whose example of Christian discipleship has contributed significantly to our understanding of what it means to be a Christian.
Does not the notice also remind us of an important question each of us may need to ask ourselves from time to time? Through the work we do, to what extent are we serving as channels of God's blessings to both church and world? And what kind of legacy are we likely to leave behind?
Is it likely that, at our passing, others will have cause to offer thanks to God for the life we lived, the witness we gave to Jesus Christ, and the contribution we made to the enrichment of people's lives?
Or is it more likely that, without saying a word on the subject, a good number of persons will hail our departure as an exit that will make it considerably more likely for the world to be a better and safer place?
These questions may beneficially be considered by everyone, especially those who have committed their lives to the nurture and service of people who follow Jesus. It is the same with those who contribute to the spiritual and professional formation of women and men who desire to fulfill their vocation through the institutional church. How far do people regard our lives as a genuine source of blessing?
If as Christians we are motivated by the love of the Father, the example of Christ and the enabling of the Holy Spirit, and we commit our lives to truly loving God and serving our neighbors, we will write fresh and bright pages in our biographies. By God's grace, the genuineness of our commitment to Christ Jesus and the sincerity of our zeal for faithful discipleship will encourage others in their pilgrimage of faith.
When we die, may others find it appropriate to "reflect on the blessings granted to the Church" through us. May those who come after us find us faithful!
|What BWA Member Bodies are Doing|
Union of Free Evangelical and Baptist Churches of Estonia
The Union of Free Evangelical and Baptist Churches of Estonia (UECBCE) comprises 85 churches with more than 6,000 members, 12 of which are Russian-speaking churches.
Its beginning goes back to the Estonian national reawakening in the 19th century when two Swedish schoolmasters, Thorén and Österblom, started preaching on the island of Vormsi and the peninsula of Noarootsi in Western Estonia.
The first Baptist church was formed in 1884 in Haapsalu in Western Estonia. In 1900 the Baptist churches in Estonia were recognized as an independent union. The Evangelical Christian Union of Free Churches was founded in 1937 and was joined in membership by the Pentecostal churches in that same year.
In 1945, the Baptist Union, the Free Church Union, and the Evangelical Christian Union, were combined by the communist authorities to form the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. This combined body was in turn joined with the All-Soviet Council of Evangelical Christians-Baptists.
Much of the work began by the churches either went underground or discontinued during the annexation of the country into the Soviet Union beginning in 1940. The magazine Teekäija ceased publication in 1940 and did not reappear until 1988; the Baptist Theological Seminary, opened in 1922 in Keila, was closed in 1940 and reopened in 1989 in Tallinn, the country's capital; and youth work and other ministries went underground for much of that period until political tensions began to ease in the late 1980s.
The country regained its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and, as a consequence, UECBCE became an independent church body with the dissolving of the All-Soviet Council of Evangelical Christians-Baptists.
The Centre for Youth and Children's Work is one of the important ministry endeavors of UECBCE, with the annual Bible Days and the Children's Day among the most awaited events on the union's calendar, with hundreds of youth and children gathering for these events.
Since 1993, a mission conference is held each year. Regional mission conferences have also been held, beginning in 1998. UECBCE offers training on church planting.
Throughout the years, Baptists in Estonia have distributed thousands of tons of food and goods with donations from within Estonia, as well as contributions from Germany and Scandinavian countries.
Publishing enjoys a long tradition in the union. In addition to books, often done in cooperation with Christian publishers, the union publishes two monthly magazines, Teekäija (Wayfarer), first published in 1904, and Karjase Kiri (The Shepherd's Note).
Heritage Baptist Church
Annapolis, Maryland, USA
College Avenue Baptist Church was formally organized in 1903 in Annapolis, the capital of the state of Maryland in the United States, before relocating in 1972 to another location in the city and changing its name to Heritage Baptist Church (HBC).
The congregation believes it "exists to be a beacon reflecting God's unconditional love in Annapolis and surrounding communities." A hymn, composed by two congregants, speaks to the church's ethos:
We have confidence in You, O Lord,
Through endless ages still the same.
We have confidence in You, O Lord;
Your love and mercy we proclaim.
HBC is engaged in a number of outreach activities to its own members and the wider community, including the Heritage Learning Center, a preschool founded in 1985; a food pantry in partnership with the Maryland Food Bank, which provides groceries for those in need; and the Lighthouse Shelter, in partnership with other area churches.
The Baptist World Alliance Global Impact Church also offers ESL classes, "English for Speakers of other Languages," and makes contributions and provides volunteers for the construction of houses in tandem with Habitat for Humanity.
Each year its youth participate in the "30 Hour Famine to raise money for World Hunger," youth evangelism conferences, among other activities.
HBC holds strongly to the notion of religious freedom. "We believe that everyone has the right to worship God," HBC states. "We may not always agree with others in what they believe about God, but we respect their right to believe. "
|Movements and Changes|
Olu Menjay, elected president of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Education Convention, succeeding J. Shelton Seidi
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Baptist World Aid
|BWAid grants for the months of April and May 2012|
Grants recorded in United States dollars unless otherwise noted
Education for Girls 12,000.00
Central African Republic
Training Center for Women and Girls 20,000.00
Democratic Republic of the Congo
HIV/Aids Counseling Program 5,000.00
Agricultural Project 7,000.00
Internally Displaced People Assistance 6,344.00
Horn of Africa
Drought Rehabilitation 50,000.00
Food Security Project CDN$39,000.00
Medical Clinic 5,090.00
Youth Peace Empowerment Program 10,762.00
Poultry & Vegetable Farming 12,758.00
Chicken Project 5,000.00
Goat Project 5,000.00
Orphan School 2,500.00
Nepal Refugee Program 2,500.00
Children's Home 6,500.00
Health Clinic 5,000.00
Widowed and Single Women 7,465.00
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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 June we will remember the following:
June 3-9Baptist 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 Angola
Free Baptist Church in Angola
Baptist Convention of Mozambique
Brazilian Baptist Convention
National Baptist Convention (Brazil)
June 24-30 Evangelical Baptist Convention of Argentina
Argentine Baptist Association
Baptist Convention of Bolivia
Baptist Union of Bolivia
National Baptist Convention of Chile
Union of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Chile
Baptist Evangelical Convention of Paraguay
Baptist Evangelical Convention of Peru
Baptist Evangelical Convention of Uruguay
Caribbean Baptist Women's Union Day of Prayer, June 4
European Baptist Federation
Mission Conference, June 13-17, Arad, Romania
Youth Leaders Training Conference, Santiago, Chile, June 29-July 1