(BWA) A number of Christian and religious groups were convened by the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) at the Kempinski Hotel in Amman, Jordan, on the morning of Thursday, March 19, to discuss common interests and to review plans surrounding the official opening and dedication of the Baptism Center in Bethany beyond Jordan.


Among the BWA leaders present were David Coffey, president, and Neville Callam, general secretary.


The center opened Friday, March 20, at the location closely approximate to the place where John the Baptist is believed to have baptized Jesus. Some 100 converts were baptized in the Jordan River as part of the dedication service. Several pastors shared in the baptismal service.


In addition to leaders of the BWA, leaders from the European Baptist Federation, the Jordan Baptist Convention, the Lebanese Baptist Society, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Oxford University in England, the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Lebanon, the Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation were at the meeting.


The same group participated in an afternoon meeting at the offices of Islamica magazine to discuss the BWA response to the Muslim letter of Oct. 13, 2007. The Muslim letter, titled “A Common Word,” was sent to 27 Christian leaders around the world, including BWA President David Coffey. The letter, signed by 138 Muslim scholars and leaders, called on Christian leaders to enter into dialogue with Muslims in a quest for world peace.


Muslim participants were young Islamic journalists and scholars, including Sohail Hakhooda, editor in chief of Islamica.


Paul Fiddes, professor at Oxford, and chair of the BWA Commission on Doctrine and Interchurch Cooperation, summarized the BWA response that led to a lively and cordial discussion among the Islamic journalists and scholars and the Baptist leaders and scholars.

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