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'Tireless in his advocacy for the neediest members of the Baptist family'

Tributes have been paid to British Baptist and 'Global Ambassador' Paul Montacute, who has died in Virginia, USA after a long illness 

Paul MontacutePaul was involved in youth work in his early ministry. He became national youth officer for the Baptist Union of Great Britain, and was one of the key organisers of the Baptist World Alliance Youth Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1988. After that he moved to the USA to head up the BWA youth work before becoming director of Baptist World Aid for many years.

David Coffey, the former BWA President and Baptist Union of Great Britain General Secretary, was a friend of Paul's, having worked closely with him over many years. He paid this tribute: 

'If anyone merited the title ‘Global Ambassador’ it was Paul Montacute. For decades he travelled the globe serving as a Baptist representative who was willing to network with any who shared his passion for justice peace and equality. 

'I was privileged to work alongside Paul in the 1980s when we were colleagues on the staff of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. Paul was the national youth officer and in 1985 he displayed his characteristic courage when he took a large group of young British Baptists to the BWA Youth Conference in Argentina. This was soon after the Falklands War when Argentina and the UK had engaged in a fierce conflict. It was uncertain what reception awaited the British group but in making the journey Paul was committed to peace and reconciliation with those who had recently been enemies.  

'But on the opening night of the conference the British Baptists received a rousing welcome from their hosts in the presence of the President of Argentina. 

'As chairman of the BWA Youth Committee Paul led the team that planned the landmark BWA Glasgow Youth Conference in 1988.  It was a groundbreaking event which in many ways shaped BWA Congress gatherings in the years that followed. 

'In the early 1990s Paul joined the staff of the BWA with responsibility for Baptist World Aid. He was a prodigious global  traveller in all the continents, tireless in his advocacy for the neediest members of the Baptist family. 

'His eye witness accounts from disaster areas challenged member bodies to give generously to Baptist World Aid and his reports from restricted countries like North Korea addressed critical issues of human rights and religious liberty. 

'His years of service with the BWA coincided with a fruitful period for the Alliance. Under the leadership of Denton Lotz, Paul was part of the  diverse team of gifted people who initiated some innovative programmes for the BWA. 

'In latter times Paul faced with courage and fortitude many years of declining health and through all these challenges he  was lovingly supported by his wife Judith.

'I give thanks to God for my friend ‘Monty’ who in every respect was a big man. He was strong in Christian faith and character; large hearted in encouraging friendship; expansive in his vision for global enterprises; fearless in his truth telling without compromise. Paul fulfilled personally the Great Commission of taking the Gospel to all nations and is now with the Lord he served so faithfully.'

European Baptist Federation (EBF) General Secretary Tony Peck spoke of his "great sadness" in learning of Paul's death.

Posting in the EBF Facebook group, he wrote, 'In his BWA role Paul worked closely with EBF and BMS World Mission to form Baptist-Response Europe, bringing much needed practical aid to eastern Europe and the Balkans in the turbulent years of the 1990s and early 2000s with its many ethnic and other violent conflicts.

'Above all, Paul was a good friend and encourager to so many in the EBF. Despite the onset of Parkinson’s disease he continued to take a keen interest in EBF life and some of us were privileged to visit him at home or meet him at the BWA offices in recent years.

'To Paul’s wife Judith, their two sons and their families, we extend our condolences and our prayers for God’s love to surround them at this time.

'We give God thanks for all that Paul Montacute meant to so many of us. May he rest in peace and rise in glory!'

In a statement on its Facebook page, the Baptist World Alliance said, 'Today we mourn the passing of a faithful servant of God, our brother Paul Montacute. He is pictured here at his retirement celebration after more than two decades of ministry service at the Baptist World Alliance. 

'Through his leadership of Baptist World Aid, the BWA was able to respond to people in need around the world with timely disaster relief, valuable aid in the fight against hunger and poverty, and long-term community development initiatives.'

BWA General Secretary Elijah Brown has called upon the global Baptist family to lift up the Montacutes in prayer.

He said, 'I am deeply grateful for the partnership Paul immediately offered when I first started attending BWA meetings 15 years ago. Since then he and Judith have been consistent encouragers.

'As I visited with Judith earlier today she noted how much the prayers from friends around the world meant to her and the family during this time. The Baptist world has lost a true champion of the faith.'

Image | Baptist World Alliance

Baptist Times, 22/02/2020
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