As Turkish news reported (erroneously) that global Baptists were in Izmir to discuss “religious tourism,” the Baptist World Alliance’s General Council got down to business, and its various commissions met to discuss a variety of topics: a pattern that will continue July 9-11.
The General Council heard reports from President John Upton and General Secretary Neville Callam, who made several recommendations to the body. The Council approved an organizational shuffling of titles and responsibilities for current commission groups along with the addition of three others, to streamline the resolutions process, and to reinstitute “BWA Day,” observing it on the second Sunday of February and the preceding Saturday (for Seventh Day Baptists).
The annual Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award was presented to Ilie Coada of Moldova, a pastor who was praised for years of selfless work advocating for girls and women who are vulnerable to the sex trade, founding shelters and schools for them and for their children. Coada’s life has been threatened by human traffickers, and he has passed up opportunities for personal advancement, but he has persevered in his mission, said presenters.
The General Council approved four Baptist unions as new members of BWA: Chin Baptist Churches, USA; Baptist Community of the Faithful in Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Baptist Evangelical Community in Central Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo; and the Emmanuel Baptist Church of Ethiopia. Irish Baptist Networks was recognized as an associate member. Several other applications for membership remain pending. Approval is usually a multi-year process and requires the endorsement of neighboring Baptist bodies.
Reports on some of the many commission meetings will follow.