|From the General Secretary |
Challenge and Opportunity
By Neville Callam
Christians everywhere should analyze carefully the study on "The Global Religious Landscape" recently released by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The report is available at:
The study is based on data from censuses and other demographic sources, collected from 232 countries and territories and reflecting people's self-identification. It reveals that eight in 10 people in the world identify themselves with a religious group -- a sign that people are still engaged in the search for meaning in life.
The 2.2 billion people who self-identify as Christians comprise 31.5 percent of the world's population. Christianity continues to be the faith group with the largest number of adherents, with Muslims at 23.2 percent.
According to the study, in 2010, 26 percent of Christians lived in Europe, down from 66 percent in 1910, with 24 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 24 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, 13 percent in Asia and the Pacific, and 12 percent in North America. It is noteworthy that almost one in four Christians alive today resides in sub-Saharan Africa, where the 21st Baptist World Congress will be held in 2015.
The 1.1 billion Catholics make up 48 percent of those who self-identify as Christians -- up from an estimated 291 million in 1910. Thirty-seven percent of the Christian population is Protestant and 12 percent comprise people of Greek and Russian Orthodox persuasion. Christians, the report states, have a median age of 30 years.
Significantly, 16 percent of the population -- 1.1 billion people -- declare themselves unaffiliated with any religion and they make up the third largest group, coming behind Christians and Muslims. Seventy five per cent of these persons reside in Asia -- 700 million in China and 72 million in Japan -- and 50 million are United States residents.
The large number of the so-called "nones" suggests that believers in Christ have a major challenge, but also a great opportunity. We need to share our faith with those who have not yet been incorporated into Christ's body, the church. Notably, some of the 1.1 billion who claim no religious affiliation say that they believe in God or in a higher power. The percentage of unaffiliated groups holding belief in God is, for example, seven percent among Chinese adults, 30 percent among French adults and 68 percent among U.S. adults.
While the Pew study does not examine trends, a comparison of its findings with other available data shows the continuing decline in the number of Christians residing in the Middle East, the birthplace of the faith. What might we do to help change this sad situation?
From the welter of data provided by the Pew Study on "The Global Religious Landscape," there is much to challenge Christians who are deeply committed to fulfilling the mission God has assigned the church. As we are reminded of the many people who have not yet discovered their true identity in Christ, let us make use of every opportunity we have to know Christ Jesus and to make Christ known.
|What BWA Member Bodies are Doing|
|Antigua Baptist Association
The first Baptist church on the Caribbean island of Antigua was founded in 1960 in the capital St. John's by missionaries associated with the Baptist Missionary Association of America. In the late 1960s, the Southern Baptist Convention started work on the island as an outgrowth of work in Trinidad, another Caribbean island.
The Antigua Baptist Association was formed in 1980 and comprises four churches.. The association went dormant for a number of years over differences in theology and administration. Through efforts of the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship (CBF), the group was revived and hosted the Mid Term Assembly of the CBF in August 2012.
Antiguan Baptists are anxious to be more fully integrated into the Caribbean and international Baptist communities.
The island of 80,000 residents is roughly 75 percent Christian.
|First Baptist Church of Greensboro
North Carolina, USA
First Baptist Church (FBC) of Greensboro in North Carolina in the United States expresses the belief that "every believer is a minister." As such the church has various ministries that touches or involves all age groups. Mission is at the core of the church's life. "First Baptist is a church that emphasizes worship, spiritual development, fellowship and ministry to our city and our world."
In the community, FBC Greensboro serves meals to the homeless, plan food drives for the needy, hosts a homeless shelter for women during the winter, builds affordable housing in association with Habitat for Humanity, and sponsors refugees.
Internationally, the Baptist World Alliance® Global Impact Church has helped in church construction in Chile, participated in a Habitat for Humanity trip to Jordan, helped to construct Village of Hope, a ministry to street children in Ukraine, went on evangelism trips to Peru and Honduras, and worked among the Romani people in Hungary.
"First Baptist Greensboro affirms the freedoms and confessions of our Baptist heritage.... We believe that Christian goals are only accomplished through the methods of Jesus."
|In Memoriam: Zachariah 'Zac' Patnaik|
Zachariah 'Zac' Patnaik of Kolkata, India, a vice president of the Baptist World Alliance® from 2000-2005, died on February 2 in the state of California in the United States after a long illness. He was 72 years old.
Patnaik served the BWA in a number of capacities, including as a member of the General Council, the Executive Committee, the Budget and Finance Committee, the Officers Search Committee, the Membership Committee, the Promotion and Development Committee, and the Commission on Baptist Heritage and Identity.
Patnaik represented the BWA on a number of occasions, including touring disaster zones in the state of Gujarat after an earthquake affected India in January 2001, killing approximately 20,000 persons.
He owned and operated Automatic Controls, a manufacturing business and Evangelical Literature Depot, a publishing and printing operation. Patnaik's printing business republished Baptist World, the quarterly magazine of the BWA, making it available in India, Bhutan, Nepal and other countries in South Asia.
He was honorary pastor of the Howrah Baptist Church in Kolkata for more than 20 years. More than 30 years ago, he founded a school for children of slum dwellers in Kolkata.
Patnaik is a former member of the Board of Trustees of California Baptist University in the US. He was actively involved with Gideons International and other organizations.
Memorial services were held on February 18 at Carey Baptist Church in Kolkata and on February 23 at First Baptist Church in Redding, California. Burial was in Kolkata.
He is survived by wife Conica, son, Rajiv and daughter, Ritika.
|Youth Conference Highlight|
During the Baptist Youth World Conference in Singapore from July 17-21, participants will be assigned to "family groups." Each group comprises 25 persons from various countries. Each family group meets at least once daily to discuss the Bible study that was presented during the morning plenary session. It is an opportunity for persons to go deeper into the Word of God and to discern ways in which the Bible speaks to their own context.
An added benefit is the friendships that develop during these "mini international gatherings." Family group participants will experience the joy of making friends with persons from other countries and cultures other than their own, enriching their lives and experiences.
Registration for the Youth Conference can be done HERE.
|Movements and Changes|
Manuel Enrique Rivas Hernandez, elected president of the Baptist Association of El Salvador, succeeding Mauricio Salinas
Christoph Stiba, elected general secretary of the Union of Evangelical Free Churches (Baptists), succeeding Regina Claas. Stiba takes up office on August 1.
Suzii Paynter, elected executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, succeeding Daniel Vestal
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|Baptist World Aid|
|BWAid grants for the month of January 2013
Grants recorded in United States dollars unless otherwise noted
AfricaDemocratic Republic of the CongoIDP Resettlement 23,275.00
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Karen Refugee Student Project 25,333.00
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:
Baptist Union of Austria
Union of Baptist Churches in Switzerland
Baptists scattered throughout Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino
Myanmar Baptist Convention
Self Supporting Kayin Baptist Mission Society (Myanmar)
12th District of Church of Christ in Thailand
Thailand Baptist Convention
Thailand Karen Baptist Convention
Thailand Lahu Baptist Convention
Cambodian Baptist Union
Baptist Churches in Vietnam
Baptists scattered throughout Laos
Baptist Convention of Hong Kong
Macau Baptists Association
Baptists scattered throughout China
North American Baptist Fellowship Annual Gathering, Falls Church, Virginia, USA, March 7-8
All Africa Baptist Fellowship Christian Educators Conference, March 24-27, Burkina Faso
All Africa Baptist Fellowship Leadership Conference, April 1-5, Ivory Coast and Togo
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 firstname.lastname@example.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