Thursday, March 5, 2009

Photos from Wednesday's meetings

Clifford Jones, Sr., USA, gives the meditation during morning worship

Toma Magda, president of the European Baptist Federation, leads in prayer

Sandra Wagner, Germany, read scripture during morning worship

Warren Stewart, USA, leads in worship

Those gathered for worship before the start of the day's Executive Committee meeting

Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications, gives the Communications report

Emmett Dunn, Director of the Youth Department, shares about the work of the department

Emmett Dunn presents a plaque to Regina Claas, General Secretary of the Union of Evangelical Free Churches in Germany, and Christoph Haus, Chair of the Local Arrangements Committee, in appreciation of their efforts in hosting the 15th Baptist Youth World Conference held in Leipzig, Germany, last year

Forestal Lawton, President of the Men's Department, presents the department's report

Kathe Traynham, Associate Director of Promotion and Development, reports on the work of the division

Ellen Teague, Director of Finance and Administration, and Clem Gimbert, member of the Budget and Finance Committee, present the BWA financial report

Raul Scialabba, Chair, gives the report of the Officers Search Committee

Joanne Hendricks, BWA Accounting Services Manager, is honored upon her retirement

David Goatley, President of the North American Baptist Fellowship, shares about the deliberations regarding the relationship between the BWA and the Regions

Keith Jones, Chair, presents the report and recommendation of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee

John Upton, Chair, shares about the work of the Congress Program Committee in planning for the 20th Baptist World Congress to be held in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2010

John Sunquist, Chair of the Personnel Committee, presents Raimundo Barreto as the Personnel Committee's recommendation for the position of BWA Director of the Division of Freedom and Justice

Alberto Prokopchuk, General Secretary of the Union of Baptists in Latin America, presents his region's report

Peter Pinder, General Secretary of the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship, presents the report for the Caribbean region

Wood-Ping Chu, President of the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, presents the report for the Asia Pacific region

Bonny Resu, General Secretary of the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, presents the report for the Asia Pacific region

Richard Ice and Leo Thorne

Daniel Carro and Christoph Haus

Peter Pinder, Tony Cupit, and Ronald Bobo

Minnie Jackson, Linda Falimy, and Mirko Kormannshaus

Portia Tyler-Lloyd, Forestal Lawton, and Terri Page

Photos from Tuesday's meetings

General Secretary Callam with Rostyslav Semikov (left) and Pavlo Unguyran of Ukraine, who served as representatives of the European Baptist Federation at the BWA Youth Executive Committee meeting. Unguyran is a member of the Ukrainian parliament.

Committee members at the Executive Committee dinner on Tuesday evening

BWA President David Coffey presents his report to the Executive Committee

BWA General Secretary Neville Callam presents his report

Baptist World Aid Director Paul Montacute shares about the work of BWAid

Fausto Vasconcelos, Director of the Divisions of Evangelism and Education and Study and Research, reports about the work of the divisions

Vincent Wood of Barbados leads in evening worship

Tony Cupit of Australia, BWA Living Water Coordinator, leads in worship

Donna Groover, USA, Secretary/Treasurer of the
BWA Women's Department, leads in worship

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New director for Freedom and Justice to be appointed

Raimundo César Barreto Jr. of Brazil is being recommended by the Personnel Committee for the position of Director of the Division of Freedom and Justice (F&J) for the Baptist World Alliance (BWA).

The recommendation, which was shared with the Executive Committee of the BWA on March 4, will be presented for a vote at the next meeting of the General Council (GC) in Ede, Netherlands, in July.

If appointed by the GC, Barreto would be the first person to become director of the F&J Division, which was established on September 1, 2008, following the decision of the GC in July 2008 to create the newest division of the international Baptist organization.An ordained Baptist pastor since 1993, Barreto holds a doctoral degree in Christian Social Ethics from Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey in the United States, as well as degrees from the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia, also in the US, and from the North Brazil Baptist Theological Seminary in Recife. He also studied at the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Prague, Czech Republic.

He has worked extensively in academia in Brazil and in the US, including at the North Brazil Baptist Theological Seminary, the Northeast Baptist Theological Seminary in Feira de Santana, the Christian Education Seminary in Recife, Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, and at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Barreto has conducted research on Christian and social justice issues in Latin America. He has special interest in working with organizations in human rights, and in advocating for those who have special needs.

Currently the pastor of Igreja Batista Esperança (Hope Baptist Church) in Salvador, Bahia state, he worked as General Coordinator for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Social Ethics in Brazil, among several other appointments in church and community organizations.

The F&J Division addresses issues of human rights and religious freedom, and will coordinate the relationship between the BWA and the United Nations, with which the BWA holds membership in several UN agencies.

Barreto is married to Eliã, a nurse working in public health, and is the father of two sons, Caio, 14, and Cauã, 2.

Leena Lavanya to receive BWA human rights award

Leena Lavanya of India is the 2009 recipient of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award.

Lavanya, referred to by some as the “Baptist Mother Teresa,” is being recognized for her work among the poor and dispossessed of India. Her “Serve Trust” organization operates several ministries, including homes for the aged, lepers, and adults and children living with HIV/AIDS.

Serve Trust operates a school for children in one of the most depressed areas of Narasaroapet, a town of approximately 100,000 in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. In another town, Chilakaluripet, Lavanya operates training programs for female sex workers and their daughters with the hope that these women and their daughters would break the cycle of prostitution.

Chilakaluripet reportedly means “the place where prostitutes live,” and is populated by descendants of women who were once concubines of kings, who have since evolved into a caste where their role and function is prostitution. HIV/AIDS infection is high among this population, where many men depend on the earnings of the women by being pimps or part of the mafia.

In addition to operating a free HIV/AIDS counseling center, Lavanya distributes rice and lentils to female sex workers and blankets to Hindu beggars, many of whom live on the streets or in depressed communities.

Lavanya is the granddaughter of B.R. Moses, a former BWA vice president and seminary professor, who raised her until she was 18 years old, in keeping with a Telugu tradition of grandparents raising the first grandchild. The Telugus are a people group that lives in several states, mostly in Southern India, among whom Baptists have a significant presence. Her maternal uncle, Bontha Moses Sudheer, is a pastor and a member of the BWA Commission on Freedom and Justice.

Lavanya began her ministry after attending the Baptist Youth World Conference in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1993, in response to a challenge by noted speaker Tony Campolo for youth to fully surrender their lives to Christ.

The Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award will be presented during the meeting of the BWA General Council in Ede, Netherlands, in July.

BWA reduces budget in light of investment loss, but contributions hold steady

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) is to reduce its 2009 budget by 29 percent.

The decision was taken by the Executive Committee of the BWA on Wednesday, March 4, in response to the decline in investments held by the world Baptist body. The Budget and Finance Committee (B&F), in its report, indicated that the value of BWA investments fell by 36 percent over the past year, which prompted both the staff and the B&F Committee to take actions to reduce the budget.

The net effect of the loss in value of investments is the reduction of the funds that the BWA holds in reserve, which were built up over the previous five years. The B&F Committee took the measure of removing all BWA funds from equities, which had suffered the worst losses, and placed these in fixed income funds, in an attempt to stanch the loss.

Despite the reduction in reserves, overall contributions by individual donors, conventions, unions, and churches to the international organization fell by less than five percent during the past year, while contributions to restricted funds had an overall increase. Restricted funds are designated for particular purposes, such as aid, development, mission, evangelism, and training.

A report from Promotion and Development (P&D), which does fundraising for the BWA, stated that giving to the General Fund fell slightly, while “designated giving was up over 2007, which meant we actually received more funds total in 2008 than in 2007.” The P&D report stated that “Latin America and Europe increased donations over last year,” and that “104 individuals gave to the BWA for the very first time” during 2008. The P&D report indicated that 400 churches gave to the BWA in 2008, 369 within the United States alone.

The level of contribution was regarded by the Executive Committee as outstanding, in light of the experiences of other nonprofit bodies that had seen reductions of between 15 and 43 percent from contributors. This, it was felt, testifies to the commitment by Baptists toward the BWA and the ministries in which it is engaged.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

BWA weathers financial storm

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) has continued to receive support for its ministries, despite the severe downturn of the global economy.

BWA General Secretary Neville Callam, in his report to the Executive Committee of the BWA, meeting in Falls Church, Virginia, on March 3, stated that “member bodies and friends of the BWA have been faithful to God in supporting the BWA.” He reported that the BWA “ended the year (2008) in a much better position than we thought likely in late September 2008.”

Callam noted that the BWA, like other nonprofit organizations, has not “escaped the effects of this economic meltdown” as “we sustained enormous damage to our investments,” but said that “at the BWA office, we took steps to reduce spending and sought divine guidance for securing the continuance of the work to which we have all committed ourselves through the BWA.”

This, he said, is based on the conviction that “the BWA serves in response to a conviction of divine calling,” and that staff members have “sought fervently to discern God’s will for the ongoing work of the movement.”

Callam told the committee that though some contributions to the international Baptist organization registered a decline, other categories saw an increase in contributions. Contributions to the General Fund, he stated, declined by 2.5 percent, but contributions to restricted funds have increased. Simultaneously, he said, “We managed to keep expenditure at 4.6 percent below budget.”

The General Fund of the BWA covers operational costs and administrative expenses, while restricted funds are designated for particular purposes, such as aid, development, mission, evangelism, and training.

In terms of the way forward, the global Baptist leader said, “We have undertaken a detailed analysis of the pattern of financial support the BWA has been receiving over the years. On the basis of this work, we are clearer about the need to vastly increase the number of donors to the Alliance.” He declared his hope that “those who know the organization best will demonstrate their commitment to the organization by contributing to its financial wellbeing.”

Callam thanked Baptists for continuing to support the BWA with their prayers and resources. “We are deeply indebted to the members and partners of the BWA whose commitment to the global Baptist movement was severely tested. In spite of the difficulties they faced, they rose to the challenge and supported the BWA.”

Meetings continue

BWA committee members gathered at 8:30 am on Tuesday for a time of worship before the start of the day's meetings.

Worship leaders were Terry Rae, South Africa; Hector Gonzalez, USA; Eiji Osato, Japan; Christoph Haus, Germany; and Keith Jones, Czech Republic.

Terry Rae

Hector Gonzalez

Eiji Osato

Christoph Haus

Keith Jones

Committees meeting on Tuesday are the Mission Advancement (Promotion & Development and Communications) Committees, Baptist World Aid Executive Committee, Men's Department Executive Committee, Women's Department Administrative Committee, Youth Executive Committee, Evangelism & Education Executive Committee, Officers' Search Committee, Budget and Finance Committee, Membership Committee, Emerging Leaders Network Committee and the Congress Program Committee.

The BWA Executive Committee will meet Tuesday evening from 7:15-8:45 pm for its first session.