Unity and Strength

March 04, 2014

Today I attended part of the Executive Committee meeting of the Baptist World Alliance so I could meet with the Communications Advisory Committee. I joined six other communicators representing various Baptist denominations to talk about BWA's past and future communication efforts. This is my fourth year on the committee. For the first three years of my tenure, the March meeting was held at the BWA's offices in Falls Church, Virginia (part of the Washington, D.C. metro area). This year, however, we met at the American Baptist Churches Mission Center in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

The building houses various ministry organizations of the American Baptist Churches, USA, as well as Palmer Theological Seminary. The building's unique design is fascinating. A large circle with lots of windows, the doughnut-shaped building communicates openness, unity, and connectedness to the environment. In fact, the first floor is open for part of the circle and enclosed like the other floors for the rest. Walking that floor moves one in and out of the building. The simple design of a circle fits Baptists well as it removes the skyscraper design that communicates hierarchy and the disunity of several smaller buildings. Thus, the building's architect, Vincent G. Kling, argued the building offered a statement of unity and strength.

The day started with a worship service led by Baptists from three different countries. Later, BWA President John Upton and BWA General Secretary Neville Callam offered reports on the work of the BWA. Upton noted in his report that he met last September with Baptists in Ukraine (and the now-ousted former president of the nation). He praised Baptists in that nation for not taking sides in the recent disputes but instead working to serve and witness. Callam noted in his report his recent visits with Baptists in Estonia, Myanmar, and England, offering exciting updates from those communities. It all made for a great day to peer in at how Baptists are working together around the world.