Come Together

July 09, 2014

Neville Callam
(photo credit: Brian Kaylor)
Sessions during the Annual Gathering of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) today often left me inspired and moved by the work of Baptists around the world. During morning worship, Roy Medley of American Baptist Churches USA talked about the Christian call to tear down dividing walls between peoples. He noted some current socio-political conflicts today as he talked about the early church's efforts to bring together Jews and Gentiles. At one point he asked us to turn to the person next to us and declare, "We are no longer strangers." With that, he highlighted the essence of the BWA: we come together - across national boundaries and other dividing lines - to live, fellowship, and worship as brothers and sisters. After that session, BWA President John Upton and BWA General Secretary Neville Callam gave their reports on their work during the past year. Both highlighted stories from countries they visited, including Ukraine, South Korea, India, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. During the morning session, four new member bodies were voted in (one of the Chin ethnic group in the U.S., two in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and one in Ethiopia) and another group (from Ireland) received associate membership status. Additionally, a Baptist leader from Ukraine spoke about recent conflicts and struggles in that country. All of these moments were exciting stories about the Baptist world coming together.

Ilie Coada receiving the human rights award from John Upton
(photo credit: Brian Kaylor)
During the afternoon, I attended two sessions of courageous Baptists working in difficult situations. One looked at sensitive religious freedom issues. I learned a lot and was impressed by those sharing. Another session featured remarks from the 2014 Denton and Janice Lotz Human Right Award winner Ilie Coada from Moldova. My Ethics Daily article tomorrow will cover his remarkable work. Together the two sessions opened my eyes to some Baptist work in other nations and introduced me to some incredible ministers. I also managed to take a couple of walks again today along the Aegean Sea. The first time, the waves were the least choppy that I had seen them yet and the mountains were much clearer. The second time brought the best sunset I have seen here. All together it made for a great - even though convicting - day in Turkey. You can view photos from my fourth day in Izmir here.

Sun setting over Aegean Sea