The president of the Baptist World Alliance, David Coffey, encouraged Baptists to continue to move forward with the movement that started last year with the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. A British Baptist leader, Coffey spoke April 3 during the third plenary session of the Baptist Border Crossing at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in the Kansas City area.
The Baptist Border Crossing is the second regional meeting modeled after last year’s Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant in Atlanta. The first regional gathering was in Birmingham, Ala.
“The great thing about this gathering is that you are Baptists who do cooperate,” Coffey said about the Baptist Border Crossing and the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. “I think that what you’re doing has lessons for the whole world, for the whole world family of Baptists. Things that you are doing, they need to be done elsewhere. Thank you for taking seriously the prayer of Jesus, his prayer that his people might be one.”
Coffey offered several reminders that Baptists need to remember if the New Baptist Covenant movement is to be successful. He based his advice on the passage in Acts 8, where Philip teaches and baptizes the eunuch. He explained that the book of Acts “is all about border crossings” like the one in the eighth chapter.
“The point of the story in the Acts of the Apostles is all those barriers that might have remained up came down because the Spirit of the Lord was upon this,” Coffey added. “The Lord gave power to overcome racial and social and prejudicial barriers.”
First, Coffey argued, Baptists must “be sensitive to God’s leading.” Coffey’s second point was encouragement to “be prepared to make sacrifices.” He noted the sacrifices of believers during the time recorded in Acts and by Baptists in other nations today.
“Don’t be judgmental,” Coffey urged Baptists, lamenting that Christians sometimes use some of the same strategies of misinformation and attacks that despotic leaders often use to discriminate against Baptists and other Christians.
Coffey then encouraged Baptists to “be creative.” He also said it was important to “know how to apply the Bible” and “trust the providence of God.” Coffey told the story of God working in Jordan to bring about a baptism center for Baptists and showed a video from the recent ceremony for the first time.
Jimmy Allen, one of the main organizers of last year’s Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant, brought greetings and encouragement during the session. Coffey noted that Allen first articulated the hope that the Celebration would not be merely a “moment” but would spark a “movement.” During the Baptist Border Crossing, Allen expressed his excitement that the movement was developing and growing.
“God is creating movements here, there, here, there.” Allen stated. “As we reach out to each other, what we have to do is find out what we have in common.”
“What we need to do is to ask God to keep on doing it,” Allen added. “What we need to do is reach out and say, ‘Hey, let’s work together.'”
Coffey has been an ordained Baptist minister with the Baptist Union of Great Britain since 1967. He was president of the Baptist Union of Great Britain from 1986-87. During that time, Coffey published a book “Build That Bridge,” which is a study in conflict and reconciliation in church life. He served as president of the European Baptist Federation (1997-99). In 2003, he was elected to serve until 2007 as the moderator of the Free Churches Group to represent the 19 free church denominations in England. Last year, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
Last year, Coffey was named by EthicsDaily.com as the “Baptist of the Year.” Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, wrote that Coffey was chosen because he “has pushed for constructive engagement between Baptists and Muslims, sought to advance religious liberty in predominantly Muslim countries and spoken up in Israel for Palestinian pastors. Through his tireless initiatives and frequent conversations, he has kept the eye of global Baptists on the Middle East and the role of people of faith as peacemakers.”
Visit www.baptistbordercrossing.org to learn more.
Brian Kaylor is a contributing editor for EthicsDaily.com and an editorial assistant for the Baptist General Convention of Missouri.
Brian Kaylor is editor and president of Word&Way, associate director of Churchnet, and a contributing editor for EthicsDaily.com.