NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Billy Kim voiced his appeal to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee.
“Stay with us. Pray with us. Evangelize with us,” the Baptist pastor from South Korea and president of the Baptist World Alliance said Sept. 22.
Kim, a longtime friend of many Southern Baptist leaders, said he had “invited myself” to travel from Korea to present a five-minute BWA report regularly provided during the Executive Committee’s two-day meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
Kim did not directly reference the circumstances prompting his appeal. Earlier in the session, however, Morris H. Chapman, president of the Executive Committee, had welcomed Kim and the BWA’s general secretary, Denton Lotz, to the meeting and briefly noted that a BWA study committee formed several years ago by the Executive Committee has been reactivated.
Chapman said the SBC “is reviewing and evaluating the affiliation of the convention with the Baptist World Alliance. … As we all know, objectives, priorities and purposes change over time within all of our organizations and periodic evaluations become necessary.”
Prompting the reexamination, but not directly mentioned by Chapman or Kim, are unresolved questions about the BWA’s processes in granting BWA membership to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a breakaway organization of Baptists opposed to SBC theological convictions such as biblical inerrancy.
At the SBC annual meeting in June, the convention’s $425,000 allocation to the BWA was reduced by $125,000 for the coming year to initiate global relationships in keeping with the SBC’s emerging Empowering Kingdom Growth emphasis.
Kim, in his appeal, thanked Southern Baptists for their part in creating the BWA in 1904 and for their support over the years.
“I beg you, stay with us in the Baptist World Alliance,” he urged Executive Committee members.
When he assumed the BWA presidency in 2000, Kim said, “… I emphasized the unity of the Baptist body. My heart still cries for the unity of Baptists around the world, so we can do more for the Kingdom of God.”
Kim continued, “… All of us know what John 17 teaches us in that great intercessory prayer of our Lord Jesus,” in which He prayed to the Father that His followers “may be one as we are one.”
“The closer we grow to Christ,” Kim said, “the closer we grow to one another. Christian unity is supernatural because it comes from God’s nature. It is only experienced in fullness as we draw close to Him.
“The unity, though, does not mean uniformity in everything. In the Trinity there exists a unity in diversity – three distinct Persons yet they are one.
“Jesus’ prayer for unity does not mean that we all should be the same, though many Christians mistakenly assume that,” Kim said. “Too many think other believers should be just like themselves … read the same books, promote the same style, educate their children in the same way, have the same likes and dislikes.”
Kim acknowledged that “there are a lot of differences. I don’t like all the unions and conventions that belong to the Baptist World Alliance …. But we come together as a unity, as a force. … May God help us. In a Kingdom with empowered growth, we need everybody together who believes that Jesus is the only Savior to go out in the highways and hedges, and help them come to know Christ and baptize them in order that we will meet them in ‘Hallelujah Square’ in heaven.”