Baptist World Alliance Annual Gathering
Religious liberty, Baptist-Catholic dialogue and Baptist responses to the growing refugee crisis were among the topics discussed at the recent Annual Gathering of the Baptist World Alliance
More than 300 people from 50 countries met at the gathering in Vancouver, which saw the BWA pass three resolutions.
One called on the United Nations to raise the designated threat level for Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region to Level 3, the most severe large scale humanitarian crisis. Extremists in Nigeria, mainly the violent Islamist group, Boko Haram, and Fulani militants, have led a series of attacks in Nigeria and neighboring countries such as Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
The BWA noted that "people of faith and houses of worship have been intentionally targeted, including the damage or destruction of thousands of churches and numerous mosques."
Samson Ayokunle, president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, has castigated the international community for ignoring terrorist violence and attacks in the West African country.
Another resolution urged Baptists in affected countries to assist those who are displaced. Baptist groups in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, as well as in European countries such as Germany, Sweden, Croatia, Serbia and elsewhere, have provided personnel and supplies to assist those who are displaced.
However, in a statement the BWA said it was “concerned about those who have not been as engaged, or who have been less than welcoming in their remarks and actions”.
The BWA is encouraging "Christian believers to personally engage with all refugees and displaced persons, generously showing God's love and care as we demonstrate the sufficiency of God made known through Jesus Christ."
The gathering also saw the announcement of a third round of Baptist-Catholic dialogue. The first round occurred from 1984-1988 and the second round from 2006-2010. In May this year, preparatory meetings were held between Baptist representatives Frank Rees of Australia, Paul Fiddes from the United Kingdom and Timothy George of the United States and a team from the Catholic Church to consider the focus and methodology for the next phase.
General Secretary the Revd Dr Neville Callam stated, ‘This joint preparatory meeting decided that the next phase of dialogue, which could commence in June 2017, should have clear continuity with the first two phases and should focus on the subject of common witness to Jesus Chris.’
Picture: BWA general secretary Neville Callam offers his annual report during the BWA's 2016 annual gathering in Vancouver. Photo by Brian Kaylor / Ethics Daily Pinterest