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BWA Congress plans, racism summit, youth conference reviewed by leaders

WASHINGTON (BP)-Updates of plans for three key Baptist World Alliance meetings were presented to the BWA executive committee during its March 2-5 meeting in Washington. The 18th Baptist World Congress, held every five years, will help usher in the new millenium, Jan. 5-9, 2000, in Melbourne, Australia, with the theme, “Jesus Christ Forever. Yes!” A Baptist International Summit on Racism and Ethnic Conflict is planned for Jan. 8-11, 1999, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta. Evangelist Billy Graham and Coretta Scott King, wife of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., are being invited to serve as honorary co-chairs of the summit, said Denton Lotz, BWA general secretary. The 13th Baptist Youth Conference, also held every five years, will be July 22-26 of this year in Houston, with the theme, “Now Is The Time!” The BWA Congress, in Melbourne’s new Exhibition Center alongside the Yarra River, will give an opportunity for fellowship among Baptists from more than 200 countries, as well as with brothers and sisters from across Australia, said Douglas Inglis, BWA Congress director. It will be a time of building bridges that transcends nations, cultures and languages and reaffirming Baptist identity and heritage, Inglis said, with Lotz describing the theme, “Jesus Christ Forever. Yes!” as “biblical, Christological, millennial and emphatic.” Speakers currently are being confirmed to challenge the global Baptist community in the areas of evangelism, worship, social action and radical discipleship. Worship experiences will include drama, choirs and musicians from around the world.
Special sessions, including a track for pastors, will encompass a wide variety of topics to nurture both personal and church growth, as well as hands-on missions experiences in the Melbourne area. A multiethnic outdoor rally will be led by BWA President Nilson Fanini of Brazil, along with an indoor evangelistic meeting to fuel Baptist efforts to proclaim the gospel throughout the world.
Melbourne “is delighted to have the privilege of hosting the Congress,” said John Simpson, general superintendent of Baptist Union of Victoria. Baptists in the area plan to open 1,000 homes as well as schools and churches to house those who come, Simpson said, and more than 100 churches, 32 of which are non-English-speaking, will open their pulpits to visiting preachers. Information on the congress is available from the Baptist World Alliance, 6733 Curran Street, McLean, VA 22101-6005; phone, (703) 790-8980; fax, (703) 893-5160; e-mail [email protected] Of the Baptist International Summit on Racism and Ethnic Conflict, Lotz noted, “We hope to have an Atlanta Declaration to help Baptists worldwide fight against racism and ethnic conflict.” Lotz also announced that a member of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been invited to speak to the BWA Human Rights Commission when the BWA general council meets in Durban, South Africa, in July. The upcoming youth conference follows the 1993 event in Harare, Zimbabwe, and “those of us in Harare still remember its impact on our lives,” said Emmett Dunn, BWA youth department director. Among the youth conference’s leaders will be Oliver Scott, a native Texan and minister of music at Joy Tabernacle in Houston. Scott is a former member of the Gap Band of the early 1980s, which tallied several gold and platinum albums and earned a Grammy nomination. After a drug overdose in 1983, Scott realized his need for Christ and dedicated his life and talent to the Lord. He became minister of music at Joy Tabernacle in 1986 and has released three solo Christian albums. The Company, a drama group from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, will give a dramatic interpretation of each evening’s emphasis. Bible studies, interactive seminars and a global village will provide an opportunity for attendees to strengthen their relationship with Christ and interact with Baptists from around the world. More information about the conference also is available from the BWA youth department via the various BWA contacts. In other reports during the March BWA executive committee meeting: — Mercy Jeyaraja Rao, president of the BWA women’s department, announced the group is beginning its search process for a new executive director. Members of the search committee are Rao; women’s department vice presidents Jean McCallum, South West Pacific (chair), Amparo de Medina, Latin America, and Beverley Dunston-Scott, North America; and treasurer Irene Haase, Germany. — Harold C. Bennett, former president of the SBC Executive Committee and chair of the BWA constitution and bylaw review committee, reported current leaders of the men’s and women’s departments have been invited to meet with both the constitution and personnel committees to review structures and other matters. — Paul Montacute, director of Baptist World Aid, reported $4.5 million in aid was distributed around the world in 1997 through BWA channels. — Inglis, who also is BWA’s director of promotion and development, reported that part of BWA’s strategy to ensure its future will be the establishment of a foundation of at least $10 million. This will give the BWA, which currently operates on a budget of a little more than $5.5 million, another $1 million with which to do its worldwide ministries.

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  • Wendy Ryan