The Baptist World Alliance has concluded its most diverse gathering globally on July 10, celebrating its continued growth and reach, but also remembering the deadly challenges facing Baptists internationally.
The three-day virtual World Congress drew 4,000 participants from nearly 150 countries and offered a range of Bible studies, plenary sessions and workshops covering topics ranging from sexual assault, to ministry and leadership, to Baptist identity, role of women, discipleship and programs offered. by BWA.
The closing and celebratory event included the announcement that the next World Congress would be held in Brisbane, Australia, in 2025.
In a question-and-answer session On July 8, BWA General Secretary Elijah Brown said there was a lot to celebrate for Baptists around the world, but also a lot of cause for concern.
âWe are living in a time of greater expansion of the Baptist movement,â he said. âWe are seeing incredible growth all over the world. Over the past 10 years, the Baptiste family has grown by 29%.
One of the main reasons for this growth is Africa, he said, where the number of Baptists has increased by 134% in the last decade.
But many regions are affected by poverty, hunger, war and the pandemic. Brown cited the kidnapping by gunmen of around 140 schoolchildren from Bethel Baptist School in Nigeria.
âToday, as we come together in this Congress, the students are being held captive,â he said. “So we know there are real challenges in so many places around the world.”
As a result, there is a lot of work to be done, Brown added, citing the expansion of the areas of worship, unity, missions, evangelism, leadership and theological development in all regions of BWA. .
BWA faced its own challenges as an institution in recent months. Initially scheduled for Rio de Janeiro in July 2020, the recently concluded quinquennial World Congress had to be delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was then made to switch to an online format as the coronavirus outbreak continued.
“I have learned to be a better Baptist by learning from Baptists in other parts of the world.”
And because of the delay, officials decided to omit BWA activities from the global gatherings calendar to stay focused on the celebration. Instead, meetings of the Executive Committee and General Council will be held in the fall.
âIn the midst of an ongoing global pandemic, the BWA family has come together in diversity, worship, mission and hope. At this historic moment with unprecedented registrants from 146 countries, we have once again declared that we are united in Jesus Christ and united to live the holistic gospel of God, âBrown said in a BWA press release announcing the conclusion of the gathering.
During the question-and-answer session on July 8, BWA President and Argentine Baptist TomÃ¡s Mackey said the achievements and challenges of Baptists around the world must be faced in a spirit of unity.
âWe are different, but we have to be one body,â Mackey said, adding that his own faith was enriched by meeting Baptists from different regions and perspectives.
âI have learned to be a better Baptist by learning from Baptists in other parts of the world,â he said.
But developing just one way to be a Baptist is not the goal, he added. âThe goal is to be different but to be together. It’s about being together but accepting our differences and doing both things at the same time. It is a learning experience and a very spiritual experience.
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