|From the General Secretary |
The Church and Disability
By Neville Callam
How would you describe the attitude of your church toward people with disabilities?
In 2006, the United Nations passed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. To date, this convention has attracted some 157 signatories, but only 127 ratifications. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has fared worse than the convention itself, having attracted less than 100 signatories and just about 75 ratifications. For one reason or another, many countries have still not ratified the convention, which came into effect in 2008.
You may recall that, in his report to the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly in July 2010, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon put forward several important recommendations. These were intended to ameliorate the unjust situation that exists concerning the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Millennium Development Goals. There was a call for strategies to improve data collection on people with disability and for the equalization of opportunities and support for the disabled. In addition, the need was canvassed for persons with or without disabilities to enjoy equal access to social protection and programs.
Within the Christian community, the question of the church's attitude to people with disability became all the more compelling with the establishment of the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN). I regard the publications of EDAN, beginning with its interim statement, "A Church of All and for All" produced in 2003, as required reading for all Christians. But do church leaders take seriously the need to address Christian stewardship responsibility when it comes to the way we treat people with disabilities?
When churches plan to expand their buildings, to what extent do they bear in mind the obligation to make provision for the physically disabled? When funds are low and government regulations do not require certain provisions for persons with disability, do people respond negatively to those who insist that building design and construction must not only provide adequate access to people with disabilities, but the seating arrangements must be organized to reflect the respect we have for them.
Nor do matters of design and construction alone point to the challenge the church faces in dealing with people with disabilities. When we train ushers for the ministry they are to fulfill, do we prepare them to receive people with a range of disabilities? Do we make provision for people with developmental and psychiatric disabilities to receive the Good News and experience the love of God and fellowship with the people of God?
We all need to remember that "disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others," to echo the words of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
Churches have a responsibility to show respect for the dignity of all persons, including those with disabilities. They also have an obligation to advocate for these persons who form 10 percent of the world's population. As the EDAN statement states, "It is the role of the church in this new century to face the reality of humanity in the image of a disabled Jesus; the reality of people with disabilities who are rejected and abandoned." Furthermore, "The integration of disabled people within the church gives testimony to God's love as expressed by all His sons and daughters. It can also be an example and an inspiration in those societies in which disabled people suffer from humiliating marginalization."
Christians worship the risen Christ who, before the ascension, displayed impaired hands and feet and side. Surely, we do have an understanding of perfection that enables us to welcome and honor people with disabilities!
May many more churches make room for persons with disabilities and celebrate their gifts.
|What BWA Member Bodies are Doing|
|Swiss Confederation of Baptist Churches
Baptist work in Switzerland started in the 1840s with the planting of the first church in the German speaking part of the Western European country by famed Baptist pioneer, Johann Gerhard Oncken. The first Baptist church in French speaking Switzerland was planted in 1872 with the founding of the congregation in Tramelan.
The 12 churches in Switzerland comprise the Swiss Confederation of Baptist Churches, formerly known as the Union of Baptist Churches in Switzerland. "We see each community as a part of the worldwide community who acknowledge Jesus Christ," the federation of churches declares. "We believe the community to be a place where the Gospel is preached and discipleship is lived in a forthcoming manner."
Baptists in Switzerland are strong advocates of freedom of religion and conscience and the separation of church and state. "We are a free church, independent from the state." This is an important distinction for Swiss Baptists in a country where many cantons recognize official churches that are financed by official taxation of adherents.
Swiss Baptist works in close collaboration with the European Baptist Mission and have a number of missioners in the filed, including Annabeth and Mark Maag in the Central African Republic.
Youth ministry is of prime importance. "We offer counseling for teenagers and youth leaders," the federation asserts. It has established a number of youth ministry initiatives and hold special events and camps for youth.
"Our main concern is that our life and that of the community follows the scripture and acknowledges Jesus Christ, not only personally but also to others."
|Second Baptist Church Petersburg
Second Baptist Church, Petersburg, in the state of Virginia in the United States, declares its mission as glorifying "God through discipleship, evangelism, fellowship, missions, stewardship, and worship." The church, which had its inception in 1854, says its ministry "is designed to help meet the needs of contemporary Christian living."
It has proven to be highly reproductive in producing ministers of the gospel. Seven men and one female from within the congregation had gone on to serve as ordained ministers.
The congregation cooperates with other churches in surrounding communities and throughout Virginia and elsewhere to fulfill "the mission to which we feel God is calling us." It encourages its membership to support those on the margins of society, to serve the homeless, and to remember those who are alone and lonely, including those who are retired and who may be living in retirement homes.
"We are a family that worships together, prays together, ministers together and shares with others the Good News of Jesus Christ."
|In Memoriam: Justice Anderson|
Justice Anderson, noted Baptist missiologist, died on December 29, 2012, of a heart attack. He was 83 years old.
Anderson taught for 27 years at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, in the United States, including 20 years as director of the seminary's World Missions Center, which he helped to found in 1980.
Anderson and his wife were missionaries to Argentina from 1959-74, during which time he was professor of church history and homiletics at the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Buenos Aires. He also served as president of the Argentine Baptist Mission in 1965 and 1972; vice president of the Evangelical Baptist Convention of Argentina, 1962 and 1965; and interim president of the seminary from 1968-69.
After their return to the US, he served in several pastorates and interim pastorates in the states of Texas, Oklahoma and Connecticut before taking up his post at Southwestern.
After retiring from Southwestern in 1998, Anderson taught classes as an adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist University, Truett Theological Seminary and the B.H. Carroll Theological Institute.
Anderson is a former member of the Baptist World Alliance® Commission on Baptist Heritage and Identity, the World Evangelization Workgroup, and the Evangelism and Mission Workgroup.
He earned degrees from Baylor University in Texas and Southwestern seminary, and is the author of several books in English and Spanish, including An Evangelical Saga: Baptists and their Precursors in Latin America, published in 2005.
He leaves wife, Mary Ann; sons, Timothy and Brad; and daughters, Sandi and Suzie.
Funeral services were held January 2 at Agape Baptist Church in Fort Worth, with interment at New Baden Cemetery.
|In Memoriam: Fred Bullen|
Ralph Frederick Bevan Bullen, general secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Baptist Federation (CBF) for 22 years, died on January 19. He was 92 years old.
Born in Plymouth, England, Bullen migrated to Brantford in the province of Ontario, Canada, with his parents in 1924.
He was ordained to the Christian ministry in 1941 and pastored Baptist churches in Sault Ste. Marie, St. Catharines and Brantford before being elected general secretary-treasurer of the CBF. The federation merged with Canadian Baptist International Ministries to form Canadian Baptist Ministries in 1995.
Bullen served the Baptist World Alliance® in a number of capacities, including as a member of the General Council, the Executive Committee, the Committee on Relief and Development, the Commission on Evangelism and Mission, and the Commission on Christian Ethics.
Bullen was active in the Canadian Council of Churches and was awarded the Knight Great Band for the Humane Order of African Redemption in recognition of leadership in World Relief Projects.
He earned degrees from McMaster University and other institutions of higher learning.
"Fred was a long-time supporter and friend of McMaster Divinity College, and was one of those responsible for instigating our Baptist Heritage Room," said Stanley Porter, president of McMaster Divinity College.
Bullen was predeceased by his wife of 62 years, Ruth, in 2003. He leaves daughter, Jane, and son, John.
Funeral services were held at First Baptist Church, Brantford, on January 25.
|In Memoriam: Saw Tamla|
Saw Tamla, president of the Self Supporting Kayin Baptist Mission Society (SSKBMS) in Myanmar, died on January 3. He was 68 years old.
After ministerial training at the Home Mission Bible School in Yangon, the capital of Myanmar, Tamla served as pastor of the local village Baptist church in Thay Nwe Khee in a remote area in Kyaukyi Township.
From 1969 to 1979, he was assistant pastor of the Phado Self Supporting Kayin Baptist Church, becoming senior pastor in 1980.
Tamla served SSKBMS in a number of capacities, including as youth president, chairman of the Minister's Council, and president of the Phado Area Churches. He was elected SSKBMS president in 2002 and served in that position until the time of his death.
Despite failing health, he led the planning and organization of the Centennial Celebrations of SSKBMS that was hosted at the church he pastored in Phado in April 2012. Thousands gathered for the event.
Tamla was also actively involved in the Myanmar Council of Churches and hosted the 84th Annual General meeting of the ecumenical church body in Phado in June 2012.
He is survived by his wife, Thramu Naw Lah Eh, and 11 children.
|Youth Conference Highlight|
|Rachael Tan |
The main speakers for the 16th Baptist Youth World Conference have been confirmed. They are:
Edmund Chan, pastor of the Covenant Evangelical Free Church in Singapore;
Christian Rommert, head of the German Baptist Youth Department;
Lucas Leys of Argentina, director of the Hispanic Division of Youth Specialists and vice president of publishing at Vida Publishers;
|Thembelani Jentile |
Rachael Tan, former member of faculty at the Taiwan Baptist Theological Seminary and past associate dean at the Asian Baptist Graduate Theological Seminary;
Thembelani Jentile, senior pastor for the Mamelodi Baptist Church in South Africa;
Dave Overholt, founding pastor of the "Church on the Rock" in Canada;
Diana Francis, president of the Student Christian Movement of Bahamas and host of a youth television program.
Registration for the Youth Conference can be done HERE.
|Baptist World Aid|
|BWAid grants for the month of December 2012
Grants recorded in United States dollars unless otherwise noted
AfricaDemocratic Republic of the CongoIDP Relief 20,000.00Back 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:
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
February 17-23Christian Evangelical Baptist Union of Italy
Portuguese Baptist Convention
Baptist Evangelical Union of Spain
February 24-March 2
Federation of Evangelical Baptist Churches (France)
International Baptist Convention (Germany-based)
Union of Evangelical Free Churches (Baptists) in Germany
All Africa Baptist Fellowship Executive Committee, February 20-21
All Africa Baptist Fellowship General Assembly, February 22-23
North American Baptist Fellowship Annual Gathering, Falls Church, Virginia, USA, March 7-8
The BWA is currently accepting 2013 Member Body Statistics Forms. The head of each association, convention or union should have received an email with a link to instructions on how to submit these forms. Instructions and forms are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French. Those instructions can also be found HERE.
The BWA's objective is to have the most updated and accurate statistics from each member body and publish these in the BWA 2013 Yearbook. Deadline for all forms is April 20, 2013.
All forms, questions and comments may be referred to Ashley@bwanet.org.
The BWA is accepting registration for the 8th Baptist International Conference on Theological Education in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, from June 28-30. BICTE immediately precedes the Annual Gathering at the same venue from July 1-6.
BICTE registration may be done HERE.
|BWA Executive Committee, Falls Church, Virginia, USA, March 4-6 Baptist World Alliance Day, May 4/58th Baptist International Conference on Theological Education, Ocho Rios, Jamaica, June 28-30Annual Gathering, Ocho Rios, Jamaica, July 1-616th Baptist Youth World Conference, Singapore, July 17-21