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2001 BWA council meeting announced for Beirut, Lebanon

BEIRUT, Lebanon (BP)–After meetings with the president and prime minister of Lebanon, Baptist World Alliance General Secretary Denton Lotz announced that Beirut, Lebanon, will be the site of the annual BWA General Council meeting in July 2001.

Lotz and Tony Cupit, BWA director for evangelism and education, accompanied by the president of the Lebanese Baptist Convention, George Saba, and BWA representative Charles Costa, met with Lebanese President Gen. Emile Lahoud, and later with the Prime Minister Selim Al-Hoss, Nov. 29.

Lotz said President Lahoud, in inviting the BWA to Lebanon, emphasized his program of “equality under the law” for all people and reconciliation as a priority in a country that is now rebuilding its damaged infrastructure after years of Middle East and civil wars.

Lotz reported that Prime Minister Al-Hoss was very sympathetic to the BWA concern for religious freedom for all, which is guaranteed in the Lebanese constitution.

Beirut, once a battleground for war, is now considered one of the safest cities in the world, the prime minister told the BWA leaders, noting that there will be no problem for Baptist leaders to get visas to enter his country.

Lotz told the leaders that the minority Baptist community in Lebanon is grateful for the religious freedom they have. Currently there are 22 churches and 2,000 members in the Lebanese convention in a country where the religious majority is Muslim followed by Catholic and Orthodox believers. The Baptist Seminary in Lebanon currently has 55 students and draws together people from across the Middle East.

Lotz praised the new Lebanese government and the people of Lebanon for their ability to live together in harmony and peace after the war that killed almost 150,000 people. “It is our prayer that this unity and harmony in living together could be a model for other countries, avoiding the tragedy of the clash of civilization,” Lotz said.

Lotz assured both of the nation’s leaders that Baptists from around the world are praying for the peace of Lebanon.

The BWA’s 18th Baptist World Congress, meanwhile, will be Jan. 5-9, 2000, in Melbourne, Australia. Details about the congress can be seen at the BWA Internet site, www.bwanet.org.

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  • Wendy Ryan