John Upton has been nominated to be the president-elect of the Baptist World Alliance, the largest organization of global Baptists with some 37 million baptized believers.
If elected at the BWA’s 20th Baptist World Congress in Honolulu, Upton will begin a five-year term in August 2010, replacing David Coffey, the outgoing president, who was elected in Birmingham, England, in 2005.
Upton will be the first United States citizen to serve as the BWA president since Duke McCall, former president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. McCall occupied the BWA presidency from 1980-85.
The other “Virginia” nominee is Daniel Carro, who is an Argentine citizen but on staff of the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV). If elected next year, he will be the first vice president, a new position defined as the “deputy to the president.”
The BWA officers search committee recommended Upton and Carro to the General Council, meeting in Ede, Netherlands. Both were elected unanimously.
Upton is the executive director of the BGAV, a position to which he was nominated on Sept. 11, 2001.
Upton, who joined the BGAV staff in 1995, and his wife, Deborah, served as missionaries in Taiwan from 1986-91. He was pastor of Virginia’s Urbanna Baptist Church from 1984-86 and 1991-95. He also served as an associate pastor of Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco, Texas.
Deborah Upton is the associate pastor for children and preschoolers at Bon Air Baptist Church in the Richmond-area.
When the Southern Baptist Convention began the process in 2004 to defund the BWA and withdraw from membership under false charges of liberalism and anti-Americanism, Upton was one of the Southern Baptist leaders who spoke in defense of the BWA.
Calling the SBC action “troubling and disappointing,” Upton said that after working with the BWA for years he had “found the BWA to be solid in matters of theology, Baptist principles and focus.”
“Defunding the BWA will affect the work of many smaller Baptist unions around the world,” warned Upton. “It will threaten missionary relationships with national Baptist bodies and marginalize Southern Baptist work globally.”
Later that year, he led the BGAV to seek membership in the BWA.
From 2005 through 2007, BGAV contributed more funds to the BWA budget than any other convention, union or member body, providing $154,384 in 2007.
Upton serves on the executive committee of the BWA’s General Council and chair of the program committee for the World Congress.
He contributed a lesson to one of the Baptist Center for Ethics’ undated, online curriculum units titled “Leading Churches into 21-Century Missions: 13 Lesson in Acts.”
Carro is professor of divinity at The John Leland Center for Theological Studies, in Arlington, Va., and BGAV’s Latino Kingdom Advance Ambassador.
He served as the BWA’s regional secretary for Latin America and the executive secretary for the Union of Baptists in Latin America from 1995-2001.
A columnist for EthicsDaily.com, Carro has also contributed a number of lessons to BCE’s online curriculum, including Eyeing Easter, Walking Through Lent: A Bible Study with Global Baptists, The Agenda: 8 Lessons from Luke 4 and Being Doers of the Word: 13 Lessons from James.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.