Elijah Brown, general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), announced this week that leaders will celebrate Pentecost amid the pandemic by hosting a “virtual global BWA worship service” on Friday and Saturday, May 29 and 30.
Both services will feature a short message from BWA president Paul Msiza and updates from general secretary Brown on BWAid ministries, but will otherwise include different content. Participants from all of the BWA’s six global regions will echo the Pentecost theme, contributing songs, prayers, and other worship activities in diverse languages and styles. The services are expected to last about an hour.
Merritt Johnson, BWA’s director of communications and media, noted that wide-ranging global time zones and potential technical problems would make a completely live service prohibitive, so the services are being prerecorded but broadcast in two “live premieres” on the BWA’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Johnson is encouraging interested persons to follow the BWA Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/baptistworld and subscribe to its YouTube channel at https://youtube.com/baptistworldalliance so they’ll be ready to join in at the appropriate time.
With the pandemic striking hard at poor areas around the world, Johnson reported “the BWA has sent more aid grants than any other comparable time span in the 100-year history of the BWA.” Under what is being called the “Standing Together Global Response Plan,” BWA has provided 129 emergency grants to Baptist conventions and unions in 80 countries, Johnson said, impacting more than 130,000 people.
The virtual service will include updates from several regional secretaries regarding ministries in their area, as well as an opportunity for viewers to contribute to BWA’s global ministry efforts.
The Friday May 29 service will stream at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, and the Saturday May 30 service at 2:00 p.m. EDT. BWA has provided a time converter to help people in other zones to learn the start time in their area.
Earlier this year, in response to the pandemic, the BWA postponed its planned 22nd Baptist World Congress, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, until July 7-10, 2021. Brown said the upcoming virtual service will offer a taste of the Baptist World Congress, so “we do not have to wait that long to worship together.”
Participants from more than 34 countries have already registered for the event, and others are encouraged to register at BaptistWorld.org/Pentecost.
For those who haven’t heard worshippers speaking and praising God in other tongues, this could be a truly pentecostal — and hopefully, unifying — experience.
Professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and the Contributing Editor and Curriculum Writer at Good Faith Media.