|From the General Secretary|
Finding More Light and Truth
By Neville Callam
Some Baptists have claimed to be "a people of the book." Often, this self-designation is meant to highlight the value we place on the Bible. In We Baptists, published by the BWA in 1999, the priority Baptists assign to the Bible is reflected in a number of ways. Take the following affirmation, for example:
Baptists believe that the Bible is both the true record of God's revelation to our world and the supreme written guide for our faith and practice today. Because it leads us to Jesus Christ the living Word, we speak of it as "the Word of God," and believe it was inspired by God's Spirit. [Baptists regard the Bible as] totally sufficient; that is, all teaching must be in harmony with the Scriptures, and all teaching must be tested by the Scriptures only.
What spurred me to consider again the disputable tag "a people of the book" was a fresh look at one of the many books published in 2009 when Baptists were marking their quadricentennial, the 400th anniversary of Baptist witness. In the introduction to The Acts of the Apostles: Four Centuries of Baptist Interpretation (Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2009), the editors make a bold claim that should be taken seriously. This is what they say:
Baptists for the most part have shown little interest in recovering Baptist interpretation of Scripture. There are several reasons for this. For one, Baptists have historically spent more time debating the authority of Scripture than engaged in dialogue about what the Bible says, much less what our forebears said it says. For another, Baptists belong to a larger movement of Christians committed to restoring the New Testament church, an endeavor that leaves little room for sustained interest in the intervening and subsequent history of biblical interpretation.
If we believe the accusation is valid -- and it seems that way to me -- we may acknowledge that our churches need to pay more attention to the massive literary output of those who are committed to recovering interpretations of the biblical text, not least those who gave committed service as interpreters of the Bible over the past four centuries of Baptist history -- which is what the Baylor text attempts to do with respect to the Acts of the Apostles. Reading the book, we may be surprised at the wide diversity of hermeneutical approaches used by Baptists and the different conclusions they have drawn from reading a particular section of the Bible.
If we wish to extend this quest beyond Baptist boundaries and go back to the first few centuries of the church's life, much exist to aid this quest. See, for example, a brief and very accessible book, Reading the Gospels with the Early Church: A Guide (Geneva: WCC Publications, 2013), prepared by Tamara Grdzelidze and her colleagues in the Faith and Order movement of the World Council of Churches. In six short sections, passages from the New Testament are accompanied by brief comments offered respectively by John Chrysostom, Augustine of Hippo, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose of Milan, Ephrem the Syrian, Origen, Pseudo-Macarius and Hippolytus. In each section, the biblical text and commentary are followed by a brief note about the commentators, recommendations for group work and a prayer.
This new guidebook reflects how, during the first 450 years of the church's life, significant biblical interpreters shared the conviction that the biblical text is "a revelation of the truth through the Holy Spirit in the Church." This does not mean, however, that the literary output of these interpreters did not manifest diversity and creativity resulting partly from the interpretive methods employed. While taking the Bible seriously, the interpreters were free to discover horizons of meaning and to develop perspectives on the text of Scripture that provided a rich tapestry that is as diverse as it is enriching.
Perhaps the ancient interpreters of the New Testament model for us how to agree on the essential biblical message while setting forth distinct, though not inconsistent, understandings of particular texts of Scripture. We should be able to do this without having to bear the pejorative labels some contemporary believers love to use to discredit others.
We should reasonably expect that Christians reading the Bible in the context of their communities of faith will continue to search for, and find, "more light and truth" from God's Word!
|What BWA Member Bodies are Doing|
|Panama Baptist Convention
Baptist witness in Panama began in 1866 through the work of missionaries from Jamaica who ministered among English-speaking workers, including those from the Caribbean, who worked on the Panama Canal and later on, the estates of the United Fruit Company. Many of these Caribbean immigrants settled permanently in Panama.
In 1905 Baptist missionaries from the United States started work in the Central American country among North Americans who worked in the Panama Canal Zone. Some of these missionaries were employed as chaplains with the Canal Commission.
The Panama Baptist Convention, formed in 1959, is the successor of the work done by these pioneering missionaries from Jamaica and the United States. The convention includes churches planted among English speakers, Spanish peaking churches, and churches formed among indigenous populations. It now comprises 110 churches and some 8,500 members.
The convention operates a theological seminary in Arraiján; Cresta Del Mar, a camp in Santa Clara; and a bookstore in Panama City, the country's capital. Various outreach ministries are being done among university students. The women's group of the convention exercises special ministries among orphans and the elderly.
| Canberra Baptist Church
Kingston ACT, Australia
Canberra Baptist Church was formed in 1929 in the Kingston suburb of Canberra, the Australian capital. It aims to provide meaningful worship to cater to diverse needs; build a culture of care and provide mutual pastoral care and support, human and financial resources for the alleviation of need; provide a strong Christian voice on social issues; and assist individuals in their Christian formation.
Its ministries are aimed at building "a vibrant and open community which is responsive to God's love in Christ and committed to serving God and people." These ministries include the Verandah, a community center jointly operated by Canberra Baptist and two other congregations for fellowship over coffee, tea and snacks, as well as emergency food parcels and clothing.
The Kingston Organic Community Garden provides nearby residents opportunity to participate in organic gardening activities, a free space where people meet and interact. Giant Steps Playgroup is part of a network of 2,000 families in the larger metropolitan area that offers a safe, supportive environment for children to play and for parents and those who care for children to form friendships. Irene's Place hosts a regular Prayers for Peace gathering during each month.
"There are plenty of things happening at Canberra Baptist for people of all ages, of all stages of life and of all interests," the church asserts.
|In Memoriam: Sulen Bosumatari|
Sulen Bosumatari, general secretary for more than 20 years of the Boro Baptist Church Association, formerly known as the Goalpara Boro Baptist Union, died on March 28 in Assam state in India. He was 82 years old.
Bosumatari, principal of Tukrajhar Higher Secondary School from 1955-1988, was "revered by all who came in contact with him," according to a tribute paid on his passing. "In life he was an inspiration and blessing to tens of thousands of people. He touched and blessed the lives of so many. He was an inspiration not only to his own people (the Boros) but to so many Assam dwellers both past and present."
Pastor of Tukrajhar Baptist Church from 1963-1965, Bosumatari was also secretary of the Boro Christian Board, the advisory body of Boro Churches throughout Northeast India, from 1955-1984. He also served as secretary of the Boro Bible Translation Committee between 1967 and 1984. He was secretary of the Boro Baptist Church Association from 1970 until 1991, when he suffered a stroke.
"He left behind a legacy that touched the lives of many who now hold leadership positions in the Boro churches and society," the tribute reads.
He was predeceased by his wife 10 years ago and is survived by four sons and one daughter.
Funeral services were held in Assam on March 28
|Youth Conference Highlight|
|School kits for children in refugee camps |
Youth attending the 16th Baptist Youth World Conference in Singapore will have a number of mission opportunities.
Youth attending the event, which will be held from July 17-21, are encouraged to make donations toward 1,000 school kits for Myanmar children living in refugee camps in Thailand.
In addition, youth at the conference will prepare enough prepackaged meals to fill two 20 ft containers for distribution to the poor in Asia.
Youth groups can also make mission trips to Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand
and other Asian countries either before or after the conference.
Registration and other information for the Baptist Youth World Conference can be done HERE.
|Baptist World Aid|
|BWAid grants for the months of February and March 2013
Grants recorded in United States dollars unless otherwise noted
AfricaDemocratic Republic of the Congo
IDP Relief 20,800.00
Flood Relief 20,000.00Peace Building Workshop 2,000.00
Flood Relief 10,000.00
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Typhoon Relief 10,000.00
Flood Relief 10,000.00
Flood Relief 10,000.00
Syrian IDP Relief 23,000.00
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 April we will remember the following:
March 31-April 6
Malaysia Baptist Convention
Singapore Baptist Convention
Baptist Conference of the Philippines, Inc.
Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches, Inc.
Convention of Visayas & Mindanao of Southern Baptist Churches
General Baptists Churches of the Philippines, Inc.
Luzon Convention of Southern Baptist Churches, Inc
Convention of Indonesian Baptist Churches
The Fellowship of Baptist Churches of Papua
Union of Indonesian Baptist Churches
Japan Baptist Conference
Japan Baptist Convention
Japan Baptist Union
Okinawa Baptist Convention (Japan)
Korea Baptist Convention
Chinese Baptist Convention (Taiwan)
Baptists scattered throughout Brunei, East Timor, North Korea, Djibouti & Somalia
All Africa Baptist Fellowship Leadership Conference, April 1-5, Ivory Coast and Togo
European Baptist Federation Executive Committee, April 11-13, Prague, Czech Republic
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.