The Baptist General Convention of Missouri was approved as a member of the Baptist World Alliance at the BWA annual gathering and General Council meeting, held July 3-8 in Mexico City. The membership committee recommended the BGCM’s acceptance and the General Council unanimously voted to approve the BGCM’s application for membership in the BWA.
“I was grateful for the privilege of being a part of the world-wide Baptist family,” stated BGCM Executive Director Jim Hill, who attended the meeting. “I am grateful the Baptist General Convention of Missouri is a part of the Baptist World Alliance. I look forward to the opportunities we will have to build relationships and minister with Baptists around the world.”
The BWA unites more than 200 Baptist bodies representing more than 80 million worshippers around the world for fellowship, ministry, worship and the defense of human rights and religious freedom. More than 400 Baptists from over 50 countries gathered at last week’s meeting in Mexico.
“The BWA’s acceptance of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri as a member is an important step in the maturing of our young convention,” said Harlan Spurgeon, BGCM president. “It speaks eloquently of our commitment to fellowship and partner with fellow Baptists at home and abroad as opportunity allows. We are proud to be a member of this historic Baptist body.”
The BGCM’s membership in the BWA follows increasing cooperation between the two organizations over the past few years. In January the BGCM was unanimously approved as a member of the North American Baptist Fellowship, a regional body of the BWA.
North American Baptist Fellowship General Secretary Alan Stanford spoke at the 2006 BGCM annual meeting in March, and BWA General Secretary Denton Lotz spoke at the 2005 BGCM annual meeting. Hill and others from the BGCM attended the 100th anniversary meeting of the BWA in July of 2005.
“There is much benefit, much fellowship and much mutual learning to be gained by our involvement with world-wide Baptists,” said Perry, BGCM team leader for congregational health.
Perry, who formerly served on the budget and finance committee of the BWA, added that he has seen “the great world mission impact and influence of the millions of Baptists around the world as they speak with one voice on important issues and focus their prayers and gifts on solving international problems.”
The BGCM financially supports the work of the BWA and the NABF through its Missouri World Missions Initiative. Additionally, the BGCM’s Easter offering supports the NABF and its Christmas offering supports the BWA.
“I’m grateful to be part of a worldwide organization of Baptists that is committed to historic Baptist principles and which reflects the scriptural principle of unity in the midst of diversity,” said Gary Snowden, missions mobilization team leader.
The BWA General Council and other interested Baptists gather each year for worship, fellowship and dialogue. The committees, commissions and General Council all meet to conduct the work and ministry of the BWA. At this year’s meeting, Hill served as a panelist for a NABF session.
“The entire week was a time of learning and an opportunity to build relationships with our Baptist brothers and sisters from around the world,” Hill stated. “It was remarkable how much we share in spite of the great diversity of our cultures and languages. I was reminded again how God’s Spirit is able to make us one. Truly, we have ‘One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.'”
The Missouri convention is the third southern Baptist state convention to join the BWA since the Southern Baptist Convention withdrew two years ago. The Baptist General Convention of Texas and Baptist General Association of Virginia still send funds to the SBC, as do conservative alternative conventions that organized within their states.
The Baptist General Convention of Missouri, however, doesn’t directly support the SBC. The SBC Executive Committee refused to accept funds offered by the new moderate group that broke away after years of battles with fundamentalists over the direction of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
Brian Kaylor is communications specialist with the Baptist General Convention of Missouri.