A spot just north of the equator 12 time zones from Raleigh seems an unlikely place for a meeting of the North American Baptist Fellowship (NABF), but such is life in the Baptist World Alliance.
The NABF is one of six regional groups within the BWA, and despite being the largest by far in terms of churches and contributions to BWA causes, it is somewhat less cohesive. Unlike most other regional BWA groups, Baptists from different denominational groups within North America who also participate in BWA rarely get together on their own. Thus, the annual gathering of the BWA provides an opportunity for representatives from the various organizations to get together.
On July 6, while meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, NABF General Secretary George Bullard reminded representatives of the two primary objectives of the NABF: to promote fellowship and cooperation among Baptists in North America, and to further the aims and objectives of the BWA.
Bullard invited several present and former BWA and NABF leaders to share their thoughts, but time ran out before much discussion could be held.
Chris Bolton reported on disaster relief in Haiti. He said four or five NABF member groups are working now in Haiti, mainly just south of Port au Prince. More than 2,000 volunteers have assisted in the work, he said.
Yutaka Takarada (below right), who leads an organization of ethnically Japanese Baptists in the U.S., reported on efforts to minister in the wake of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, where work is ongoing.
Previous meetings of the NABF held apart from BWA meetings have been very small affairs, involving mainly the top leaders of the member groups and organizations. In an effort to broaden participation, Bullard said the next meeting will be held March 8-9 in Falls Church, Va., immediately after the spring meeting of the BWA General Council.