WASHINGTON (BP)–A statement by Richard Land, that he and fellow Southern Baptist leaders will attend a meeting in Europe “to form a new alternative to the Baptist World Alliance,” prompted the BWA general secretary to say he was “shocked.”
There should be no surprise, Land told Baptist Press Jan. 19.
The BWA general secretary, Denton Lotz, told a reporter that “the creation of a competitive organization to the Baptist World Alliance … goes against everything they’ve told us in meetings that we’ve had….”
No such organization, Land noted, is in the offing.
An “alternative to the Baptist World Alliance,” Land told Baptist Press, “does not mean another formal organization.”
Land said he and fellow SBC leaders have not changed their intention “to construct, in dialogue [with other Baptist leaders around the world] alternative ways of relating to each other and maintain mutual support, ministry and dialogue.”
“I never intended anything differently” than what he and other SBC leaders have said leading up to and since the SBC’s withdrawal from the BWA last June by a vote of messengers to the SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis.
Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, said the meeting Land had referenced in comments Jan. 18 at a faith and politics panel discussion in Washington involves an upcoming meeting with various European Baptist leaders who, like the SBC, have had theological misgivings about the BWA.
“To call the meeting with some of the European Baptist leaders an ‘organizational’ meeting would be a mischaracterization,” Chapman noted in the statement.
“Over the next several years we hope to travel to several continents meeting with likeminded Baptist leaders with the thought of developing a network or fellowship,” Chapman continued. “All along we have said that while the convention voted to withdraw its membership from the BWA, it by no means voted to withdraw our fellowship from Baptists around the world. If anything, we hope to have a closer relationship with our Baptist brethren by developing a more personal and cohesive fellowship with those whose primary goal coincides with ours, the evangelization of the masses. …
“We have no desire to compete with the BWA in its work,” Chapman said. “In fact, we hope for the BWA God’s blessings in every work they do for the Kingdom’s sake and pray for them a meaningful and fulfilling World Baptist Congress in England this summer” when the BWA will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding.