BWA Connect October2016
From the General Secretarygensec

Voicing the Message

I miss that bell. Its voice fell silent when, the national elections ended and the votes counted, the political party that used a bell as its symbol was declared the winner.

Overjoyed at the taste of victory at the polls, after years in opposition, a handful of partisan enthusiasts appropriated the instrument that summoned people to community worship and made it a clanging symbol of political success. They beat the bell with such fervency that it simply burst into two, never to issue its sweet sound again.

Member Bodies in Actionmbody

2016 is a watershed year for Baptists in Fiji. Two developments led the 14 congregations to cooperate more with each other, unlike what transpired in the past.

The Asia Pacific Baptist Federation (APBF), one of six regional fellowships of the Baptist World Alliance, held its annual Executive Committee meeting as well as a Pacific Baptist forum and leadership conference from February 1-3 in Suva, the capital city of the archipelago. The conference brought together 100 local Fiji Baptist delegates and 60 other Baptists from 16 other countries, including leaders from Hawaii of the United States. The gathering focused on mission, leadership development, women and youth ministry, Christian education and relief and development, among other topics.

Disaster and tragedy in the form of Cyclone Winston on February 20, just two weeks following the APBF gathering, provided further impetus for Fiji Baptists to collaborate.

The cyclone "got us together," explained Fine Akosita Ditoka of the Fiji Baptist Convention (FBC). "It got the whole FBC to work together in response to Cyclone Winston." Despite the loss, she described it as "a blessing that we had this because everybody came together. We put aside all our differences and we responded quickly."

The new togetherness is evidenced in efforts to reorganize the secretariat. "It was an opportunity to set up our secretariat office," stated Ditoka, who acted as a volunteer consultant in the process. "We didn't have any. We never had an office. There was never a national office." FBC leaders, including its president and general secretary, did their duties out of their respective homes or churches.

New offices for FBC were opened in early March. Ditoka identified capacity building and staff development as among the chief needs of FBC. "We want to strengthen that capacity," she said. "We're all volunteers. If you want something done then you've got to have resources."

She expressed hope. "I envision Fiji Baptist Convention coordinating big things. We've seen God's hand move, even from out of nothing. Things are coming along and we know it's going to grow."
Church Spotlightchurch

Baptist Church of the Covenant (BCOC) in Birmingham, Alabama, in the United States, describes itself as "a diverse congregation that is committed to worship, Bible study and many local ministries in the city of Birmingham."

Chartered in 1970, the Baptist World Alliance Global Impact Church sees mission engagement as integral to its life and ministry.

It established a sister relationship with the Shalom Baptist Church of Boca de Mariel in Cuba, and supports Terra Nova Academy, founded in 2013 in Kampala, Uganda, by a BCOC married couple. "The goal is to provide education that is financially accessible, academically excellent and centered on Christian principles," the church said of the academy in Uganda.

BCOC conducts a Prayer Shawl Ministry. "Members meet together to create shawls and/or blankets for members and non-members who are ill. They offer prayer for the sick and encouragement for each other."

Story Time at Southtown engages elementary age children in literacy activities by reading stories, playing games and making crafts in that community. Also in Southtown, BCOC runs a tutoring/mentoring program for youth that are in middle and high school.

In addition, "BCOC partners with Community Food Bank to pack food for students on free lunch to take home over the weekend so that they have something to eat while out of school."

The Justice Issues Forum provides "information regarding social justice issues that require advocacy," the church says. It "equips members with tools to advocate for changes that could bring about greater justice for the most vulnerable and disenfranchised in our world."

The entire membership is expected to share in mission outreach. "In response to Jesus' admonition to love and serve others, members of Baptist Church of the Covenant commit themselves to ministry." Members, it says, should "carefully consider ministries that are suited to your personal gifts, interests and abilities."
In MemoriamMemoriam

E. Edward Jones, Sr., president of the National Baptist Convention of America (NBCA) from 1985-2003, died on June 9, in Shreveport, Louisiana, in the Untied States. He was 85 years old.

Jones was actively engaged in the Civil Rights Movement after he met Martin Luther King, Jr., shortly after Jones became pastor of Galilee Baptist Church in Shreveport, in the late 1950s. King spoke at Galilee in 1959 and 1962 and inspired Jones into joining the Civil Rights Movement.

Jones spearheaded the desegregation of the Caddo Parish School District in Shreveport and envisioned ways to assist the black community through healthcare, education and housing. The relocation and rebuilding of Galilee Baptist Church on approximately 40 acres in the heart of Shreveport, the creation of what came to be known as "Galilee City," helped to revitalize the city's downtown area.

Galilee City comprises the church; offices for NBCA; a 76-unit apartment complex for low- and middle-income working residents; housing developments for the elderly and handicapped; a recreational complex for youth that includes sports facilities, a computer lab and an educational program; and a health center.

In 1996, he led NBCA to join with four other predominantly African American religious groups to start Revelation America, a company that offers African American consumers greater access to a variety of goods and services, including home mortgages, life insurance, automobile insurance, food products and durable goods.

Under Jones' leadership, NBCA expanded international mission and created its own printing service and the Christian Education Congress, which covers teaching and training. Term limits of NBCA leaders were also introduced.

He was a longstanding member of the General Council of the Baptist World Alliance and was named to the board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Governor's Commission on Race Relations and Civil Rights, the Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University and the Grambling State University Foundation.

He held degrees from Grambling State University in Louisiana and Bishop College in Texas.

Between 1986 and 2003, Jones was repeatedly named as one of the 100 most influential black Americans by Ebony Magazine and received numerous other awards and recognition.

Funeral services were held on June 16 and 17 at Galilee Baptist Church.

Jones is survived by wife, Leslie, sons, Deryl and E. Edward II, and daughters, Carolyn and Donna.

In Memoriam

Kenneth Norquist, a Baptist General Conference minister who was assigned by the Baptist World Alliance to oversee post-World War Two refugee relief in Europe, died on August 29 in Isanti, Minnesota, in the United States. He was 95 years old.

In 1950, Norquist was sent to Germany as the CRALOG (Council of Relief Agencies Licensed to Operate in Germany) representative for the BWA. CRALOG, comprising 11 relief agencies including the BWA, was a nongovernmental organization formed in the United States in 1946 to help coordinate relief efforts in Europe following the war.

Norquist worked closely with German Baptist Union leaders to setup relief and to identify refugees who may be resettled into Canada and the United States, as well as into West Germany, from Eastern Europe, that was particularly devastated by the war.

"Norquist estimated that 29,000 Baptist refugees had come to West Germany since 1945," wrote James Enns in his 2012 dissertation for St. Edmund's College of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. He "believed that by working in harmony with the [West German] government's economic resettlement incentives, the BWA would help bring a permanent solution to the ongoing relief needs of refugees and restoring a sense of dignity to their lives."

Among Norquist's responsibilities was a home the BWA had opened in Munich to care for aged and infirm Baptists who could not qualify for admittance to the US. The home was eventually transferred to the care of German Baptists.

He oversaw the construction of church buildings for refugee congregations and the rebuilding of existing churches. "Norquist argued that an important step in the resettlement process for Baptist refugees would be the provision of a church building of their own which could provide them with a sense of both stability and identity," Enns wrote. "Since the government plan involved group resettlement, it was possible to establish new Baptist centers and strengthen the fledgling ones which had recently sprung up in south-western Germany."

Norquist provided hospitality and assistance to visitors. "He would pick up the sailors from the ships and take them wherever they wanted to go, shopping, amusement parks, and if they were interested and time allowed, the German (Baptist) Immanuel Church, where the Norquists were members," said Manfred and Anita Niemetschek.

At various points in his life, he was pastor at Eastern Heights Baptist Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, in the US; was director of Amerika Haus, American Military Government in Heidelberg, Germany; taught at Bethel College and Seminary in the US; taught at College of Marine, California and Manchester College, Indiana, both in the US; and, in 1970, founded a mission for foreign speaking Merchant Marine in Long Beach, California, in the US.

"There is a special place in our hearts for those that helped refugees," Anita Niemetschek said. "My parents were helped to come to America by the BWA after WW2, from Germany. My husband's father (as a child) fled Poland, after WW1 to Argentina, also through the Baptists."

Norquist held degrees and diplomas from the University of Minnesota, Bethel Seminary in the city of St. Paul, the University of Stockholm in Sweden, and Tuebingen and Heidelberg Universities in Germany.

Funeral service was held on September 4 at Elim Baptist Church in Isanti.

Norquist leaves wife, Elisabeth, son, Vaughn, and daughter, Ramona.
In Memoriam 

Chhangte Lal Rema, former head of mission and representative to the North Bank Baptist Christian Association (NBBCA) in India, died on August 3. He was 91 years old.

In January 1969, Rema left his government position to take over much of the mission work in Assam after the Indian government expelled western missionaries from the Northeast Indian region. He had turned down a position in the government's Department of Defense in Delhi, India's political capital, to do so. That government appointment covered oversight of all military construction in India, and his acceptance of the new role in the church was regarded as a personal and family sacrifice.

The invitation to take over the mission in Assam came from the Baptist General Conference, based in the United States, which had started work in the region in 1946. Assam was one of eight major provinces in India during British colonial rule but, in the 1970s, was broken up into several Indian states, including the state that still retains the name of the province.

Rema's responsibilities included two hospitals, three clinics, several dispensaries, a nurses' training school, two high schools, a boarding school and a radio ministry. An important achievement was his ability to register church properties in Assam, a task missionaries had previously failed to accomplish.

He founded and chaired the Evangelical Fellowship of India Committee on Relief and the North East India Committee on Relief and Development, organizations that have been involved in relief and development in Northeast India and have partnered with international nongovernmental organizations.

At least twice he made personal representation to former India Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on issues related to religious freedom and the status of Christians in Assam. Christian churches were attacked and burned, Christians were threatened or treated with physical violence and overseas workers faced expulsion.

Rema galvanized the Christian community in India to protest persecution and a legislative bill in Arunachal Pradesh state, aimed at Christians, which was introduced to prohibit conversion from one's religion.

A longtime member of the Baptist World Aid Committee of the Baptist World Alliance, Rema also served on the BWA Commission on Christian Ethics, the Commission on Freedom and Justice, the World Evangelization Strategy Workgroup and the Evangelism and Mission Workgroup.

Prior to taking up his position as mission director, he was director of Panchayats (local self government) and Community Development in Assam and was later promoted to deputy development commissioner for the state. Rema was an Indian Administrative Service officer, a prestigious and selective title in India.

He held degrees and diplomas from St. Paul's Cathedral College in Calcutta and Calcutta University, both in India; and the International College in Honolulu, Hawaii and Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, both in the United States. While a university student in India, he was active in Youth for Christ Ministries and student evangelization.

Funeral services were held at the Baptist Church of Shillong in Meghalaya state in India, on August 5, and in Aizawl in Assam state, on August 6.

He leaves wife, Hrangkungi, sons, David and John, and daughters, Lalrinpuii, Lalnunthangi and Rothangliani, former director of Baptist World Aid.
In Memoriam 

Jeremiah Walker, former president of the Liberia Baptist Missionary & Educational Convention (LBMEC), died on September 11 in Raleigh, North Carolina, in the United States. He was 82 years old.

Walker was special assistant to William Tolbert in the 1960s when Tolbert served concomitantly as president of the Baptist World Alliance and vice president of Liberia. Tolbert was the president of Liberia from 1971-1980.

An important figure in Liberian Baptist life, Walker, in addition to being LBMEC president, pastored three churches and was the longest serving superintendent and principal of the Lott Carey Baptist Mission School in Brewerville, Liberia, founded and run by Baptists.

He played prominent roles in the wider Christian community in the West African country, including as president of the Liberia Council of Churches and president of the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia.

Described as "a champion for religious liberty and interreligious dialogue," the Liberian Baptist leader made significant contributions to civic life in his country, integrally involved in the peace process during the First Liberia Civil War from 1989-1997 and the second from 1999-2003. He was a member of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and received the Desmond Tutu Peace Prize for his role in helping to bring peace to the nation.

He earned degrees from Shaw University in North Carolina and Howard University in Washington, DC, both in the US, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Shaw University.

Funeral service is planned for Poplar Springs Christian Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, on October 1. Services in Liberia will be held at Zion Grove Baptist Church in Brewerville on October 7 and Mt. Galilee Baptist Church in Careysburg on October 8.

Predeceased by wife, Florence, he is survived by sons, Jeremy and Nelson; and daughters, Christie, Fahnsopia and Florence.
In Memoriam 

Adalberto Cuellar, first executive secretary of the Fraternity of Baptist Churches of Cuba (FIBAC), died on September 14 in Miami, Florida, in the United States, at 80 years old. 

Cuellar was a pastor for 45 years, from 1960 until his retirement in 2005. Churches he pastored were Taguayabon Baptist Church in Las Villas, the Baptist Church of San Antonio de los Baņos in Havana, and Emmanuel Baptist Church in Cruces, Las Villas, all located in Cuba.

He planted the Baptist Church of San Fernando de Camarones in Las Villas and Jordan Baptist Church in Reparto Maņana, Havana. The church in Reparto Maņana, which includes an educational center, was founded after 18 years of difficulties and waiting for permits from the government.

Cuellar became executive secretary of FIBAC at its formation in 1989, serving in that position until 2001. He led the way in getting the new entity legally registered and recognized and in acquiring facilities, including Camp Juan F. Naranjo, in Guanabacoa, used by various groups such as the Council of Churches of Cuba for retreats, workshops and other programs and activities.

He made it a point to make regular visits to pastors and churches affiliated with FIBAC, as well as those of other Christian traditions.

He earned diplomas and degrees from the Baptist Seminary in Havana, the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Matanzas, both in Cuba, and the Community Theological Seminary of Mexico.

Funeral was held on September 18.

Cuellar leaves wife, Ena; sons, Josue and Lemuel; and daughter, Ruth.
In Memoriam 

Sudhir Adhikari, former president of the Bangladesh Baptist Church Sangha (BBCS), died on September 21 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. 

A scientist by profession, Adhikari was a former chair of the Social Health and Education Development Board, a nongovernment organization of the BBCS.

He worked with the governments of Pakistan and Bangladesh for several years and was a prominent leader among Christians in Bangladesh. He was president of the National Council of Churches in Bangladesh and of various Christian development and service agencies in the South Asian country.

Mathews George Chunakara, general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) said, "Sudhir Adhikari was a committed Christian and an ecumenical leader who devoted his time and talents for church and society. His contributions to the ecumenical movement in Bangladesh and to the marginalized Christians in the country will be remembered and recorded in history."

He recollected that "Sudhir Adhikari coordinated a special study program initiated by the Asia Desk of WCC (World Council of Churches) during 2001-2003 to amend the Christian Marriage Act-1872, an outdated law related to the solemnization of the marriages of Christians in Bangladesh."

Adhikari contributed to, and actively participated in, CCA's special study project in the 1990s on Freedom of Religion in Asia.

He was instrumental in inviting the intervention of the WCC in Bangladesh for emergency relief and rehabilitation in war-torn Bangladesh in the 1970s. He helped call the attention of WCC's Commission of Inter-church Aid, Refugee and World Service to intervene and extend support to the victims of war in Bangladesh.

His efforts through WCC led to the creation of the Bangladesh Emergency Relief and Relief Service through the coordination of WCC, which was subsequently converted in the post war period as the Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh.

The funeral took place in his ancestral village in Barisal, on September 22.
In SympathySympathy

To Rothangliania Chhangte, former director of Baptist World Aid, on the death of her father, Lal Chhangte Rema, a past member of the Baptist World Aid Committee and two commissions of the BWA

To Bruce Milne, former BWA vice president, past member of various committees and commissions of the BWA and a preacher at Baptist World Congress in Melbourne, Australia, in 2000, on the passing of his wife, Valerie

To Kakule Molo, president of the Baptist Community in Central Africa (Democratic Republic of the Congo), vice president of the All Africa Baptist Fellowship and a member of the BWA General Council, on the passing of his father

For gifts to the BWA in memory of Kenneth Norquist by Deidra Peaslee; Manfred and Anita Niemetschek; and Eugene V. Sitzmann, Sr.

For gift in honor of Gary Morgan's retirement, by Glenda Wallace

*New BWA Publications*Book
Engaging the Jubilee
Purchase at

Baptist Faith & Witness Book 5
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Jesus Christ, the Door: The Official Report of the Twenty-first Baptist World Congress

The following are disbursements by Baptist World Aid during the month of September. Unless otherwise stated, amounts are in United States currency.

South Sudan Refugee Adult Literacy Program - 7,500.00

Adopt a Village Arsenic Mitigation Project - 4,500.00

Skills Development for Women - 6,000.00

South America
Peacebuilding and development - 6,000.00
About the Baptist World Alliance
The Baptist World Alliance, founded in 1905, is a fellowship of 235 conventions and unions in 122 countries and territories comprising 40 million members in 177,000 churches. Its priorities are nurturing the passion for mission and evangelism; promoting worship, fellowship and unity; responding to people in need; defending human rights and justice; and advancing relevant theological reflection.
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