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‘Decade of Racial Justice’ among proposed BWA congress resolutions

MELBOURNE, Australia (BP)–A “Decade of Racial Justice” is being proposed in a resolution to be acted on during the 18th Baptist World Congress in Melbourne, Australia.

The eight-paragraph resolution, which calls for the special thrust during the first 10 years of the new century, 2000-2010, envisions Baptist World Alliance member bodies as “actively pursuing inter-racial and inter-ethnic harmony designed to achieve authentic justice for all persons without regard to race.”

The resolution will be voted on Jan. 8 by delegates attending the
BWA-sponsored congress Jan. 5-9 in the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. It is one of five resolutions being proposed by a 15-member resolutions committee chaired by Mark Wyatt, editor of the California Baptist newsjournal.

Baptists would “promote justice consistent with the claims of scripture by opposing racism and ethnic conflict through education, fellowship, and prophetic action,” according to the proposed resolution.

The resolution is the latest in a series of steps by the BWA to address global racism and ethnic conflict. The BWA created a Special Commission on Baptists Against Racism and Ethnic Conflict, and BWA-sponsored meetings, such as one in Atlanta in January 1999, have produced two key documents addressing the issue, known as the Harare Declaration and the Atlanta Covenant.

In proclaiming the Decade of Racial Justice, the proposed resolution at the Melbourne congress affirms that “all human beings are created in the image of God and are called to full participation in the human community; acknowledges that the sin of racism and ethnic conflict rooted in the sinfulness of humankind is an affront to the divine instruction to ‘love one another;’and declares that Jesus Christ, who calls all people to be one people, equal before God, is the true source of genuine hope for forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Among other proposed resolutions are declarations titled “Human Rights and Social Justice;” “Renewal, Growth, Evangelism and Mission;” and “Faith and Hope in the New Millennium.”

The six-paragraph resolution on “the twin causes of human rights and social justice for oppressed persons throughout the world” reiterates previous BWA stances that “human rights are God-given and that violations of human rights are violations of the laws of God.”

The proposed resolution laments:

— “that widespread acts of social and political subversion and repression continue to result in the deprivation of human rights,” particularly “the displacement and deaths of countless persons in many nations.

— “that persecution and martyrdom of Christian minorities continues to increase at an alarming rate in much of the world.”

BWA member bodies, according to the proposed resolution, urge “governments at every level to move swiftly and purposefully to affirm actively and to respect unconditionally the human rights of all persons,” including “the right to worship God without fear of harassment or intrusion.”

Efforts by Christians “to eradicate social injustice and eliminate human rights violations wherever these deplorable and intolerable conditions exist” are appropriate for “a people instructed by biblical exhortation to be ‘salt and light’ in the world,” the proposed resolution states.
On evangelism and missions, a six-paragraph proposed resolution “reaffirms the priority given by the BWA to proclaiming good news in Jesus Christ” and “acknowledges the many initiatives in mission and evangelism which Baptist unions and conventions undertook during the closing years of the last century.”

The resolution calls on the BWA organization and its member bodies nevertheless “to focus their resources and attention on redoubling efforts to proclaim and demonstrate the Gospel in the twenty-first century.”

A five-paragraph proposed resolution on the new millennium, meanwhile, notes that the congress’ theme, “Jesus Christ Forever. Yes!” evidences that “the center of all our life as Baptists is Jesus Christ who is the eternal Son of God, Lord and Savior; we affirm the new century in the strong hope of Christ and his future for all humanity.”

The resolution additionally “anticipates eagerly the return of Jesus Christ as a divine promise of the Word of God; holds fast to the promises contained in the Bible and upon which our faith is securely founded; and renews our commitment to continue to labor diligently in the work of evangelism, discipleship and service … under the authority of Christ, the teaching of Scripture, and the empowering of the Holy Spirit.”