BWA 21st Congress Overview 2015 by Santana Morris

    Baptist World Alliance 21st Congress
    Santana Morris

    The Baptist World Alliance 21st Congress was held at the International Convention Center in Durban, South Africa from July 22 to 26, 2015. The congress, which had as its theme: “Jesus Christ, the Door attracted 2,500 Baptist Christians from more than 80 countries. Approximately 80 Baptists from the Caribbean and Diaspora were in attendance.

    Outgoing President John Upton, declared the congress open at the opening celebration held  on Wednesday, July 22 at 7:00 pm. The opening event featured the telling of the South Africans’ liberation story against the backdrop of African rhythmic singing, chanting and drumming, instrumental music provided by the South Korean children’s choir and orchestra and congregational praise through singing and praying.

    It is often said that Baptists are people of the word. This was clearly demonstrated in the quality of the sermons preached during the congress by Baptist preachers from various countries and cultures. Among the preachers was the Rev. Dr. Anthony Carroll from Nassau, Bahamas, a former president of the Bahamas National Baptist Missionary and Education Convention. Rev. Carroll, who made an impassioned call for pastors to avoid the pitfalls of leadership claimed that pastoral leadership is distinctive. As such he presented Jesus as the “model for leadership” for the pastor.

    One of the features of Congress over the years has been the presentation of the Human Rights Award. At Congress 2015, the fifth Human Rights Award was presented to Rwandan Corneille Gato Munyamasoko, General Secretary of the Association of Baptist Churches in Rwanda (AEBR).  He was recognized for his work in peace and reconciliation after the 1994 genocide in his country.

    In his response,  Munyamasoko paid tribute to all those who helped and worked with him, including friends, colleagues and acquaintances in the DRC and Canada, as well as to his wife, Anne Marie and their seven children. The Congress Human Rights Award is presented at each Baptist World Congress, normally held every five years. The first Congress Human Rights Award was made in 1995 to former President of the United States Jimmy Carter.

    The highlight of the congress was the installation of Rev. Ngwedla Paul Msiza as the second African to be president of the Baptist World Alliance, the global organization for Baptist Churches on July 25. Rev. Msiza succeeded John Upton of the United States, and is the first African to hold the office since William Tolbert of Liberia served as president of the BWA from 1965-1970. Rev. Msiza served as BWA vice president from 2010-2015 and has been actively involved in the BWA since 2000, serving on its governing bodies and several key committees and commissions. He was president of the All Africa Baptist Fellowship, one of six regional fellowships of the BWA, from 2006-2011 and general secretary of the Baptist Convention of South Africa (BCSA) from 2001-2010.

    The presence of the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship was felt at the congress through the involvement and participation of Caribbean Baptist Christians, such as Rev. Everton Jackson, Rev. Karl Henlin, Dr. Lisa Nugent, Rev. Norva Rodney and Rev. Merlyn Hyde Riley among others. The 21st Congress of the Baptist World Alliance is now history and all eyes are set on Brazil, the venue for the 22nd Congress in 2020.  See you there!!!!!!!!

    Comments (1)

    Said this on 11-11-2015 At 06:31 pm

    Thanks for an informative overview.

    Pastor Vonnie James



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