Former BWA President Nilson Fanini Has Died
NILSON DO AMARAL FANINI,
president of the Baptist World Alliance from 1995-2000, died on Saturday, September 19, in Dallas, Texas, in the
United States. He was 77 years old.
Fanini, of Brazil, who was hospitalized with pneumonia a few days after arriving in the United States to visit
family on September 11, suffered a massive stroke on September 16, and slipped into a coma.
Prior to his election as the second BWA president from Latin America, Fanini was a BWA vice president, a
member of the BWA General Council, the Division of Evangelism and Education Executive Committee, and the
Evangelism Workgroup, among other appointments.
Fanini was a 14-time president of the Brazilian Baptist Convention; founded the Baptist Theological Seminary
of Niterói in Brazil in 1984; founded a nationwide project to print and distribute 25 million Bibles in Brazil; founded
and hosted a nationally-broadcast weekly evangelical television program; and founded Reencontro, a social
service organization that included an orphanage, a day care center, 19 medical clinics, mobile ambulances for
low- income pregnant women, a bakery for needy children, and a two-year vocational college.
The Brazilian Baptist leader pastored three churches in 54 years of ministry, including First Baptist Church
of Niterói, close to Rio de Janeiro in southeast Brazil, which grew from 740 to approximately 7,000 members
from 1964 to 2005. He founded Memorial Baptist Church in Niterói in 2005, which had attained a membership of
approximately 600 persons at the time of his death.
He received theological degrees from South Brazil Baptist Theological Seminary in Rio de Janeiro and
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and studied law at Fluminense Federal
University of Rio de Janeiro.
“I have received the news of the sudden home call of Dr. Nilson Fanini with much sadness and express my
sincere condolences and assurance of prayers to Mrs. Fanini and the family,” said BWA President David Coffey.
The BWA leader described Fanini as “a great friend and encourager to me in my own ministry,” and declared
that though Fanini “was a distinguished Brazilian Baptist pastor and evangelist who brought the wealth of his
experience to the international ministry of [the] BWA,” he was at heart “a local pastor.”
General Secretary Neville Callam, in stating that the BWA mourns the passing of Fanini, said that the former
BWA president was a committed pastor with a deep concern for people in need. He was also an outstanding
evangelist. A passionate evangelist, Fanini travelled widely to preach the Gospel, and one of his deepest concerns
was for every Christian to acknowledge the obligation to share the faith so that people would come to know the
salvation that Jesus offers,” Callam said in his tribute.
Fanini leaves Helga, his wife of 53 years, sons, Otto and Roberto, and daughter, Margareth.
Memorial services were held on Saturday, September 26, at the Iglesia Bautista Getsemani (Gethsemane Baptist
Church), in Fort Worth, Texas, and at Memorial Baptist Church in Niterói, Brazil, the following weekend.
general secretary for American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) from 1972 to 1987, died on July 27, after a
long illness. He was 85 years old.
Campbell, whose 15 years as the chief executive of ABCUSA is the longest in that organization’s history,
undertook several initiatives during his tenure, including “Grow by Caring,” a mission emphasis that aimed to plant
500 new churches, “Alive in Mission,” a special fundraising campaign, and a restructuring of the denomination.
He served the Baptist World Alliance in several important capacities, including as a member of its General
Council and Executive Committee, and also as a member of the BWA Academic and Theological Education
Workgroup, the Commission on Doctrine and Interchurch Cooperation, the Budget and Finance Committee, and
the Staff Evaluation and Search Committee, among others.
Prior to joining ABCUSA, he was instructor in biblical languages at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary
(now Palmer Theological Seminary) in Pennsylvania, beginning in 1949. He left in 1953 to take up the position
of associate professor of New Testament at the California Baptist Theological Seminary (now American Baptist
Seminary of the West), eventually becoming dean and professor of New Testament.
After his retirement as ABCUSA general secretary, Campbell became president of Eastern Baptist Theological
Seminary from 1987-1989.
Campbell earned five degrees and studied at several universities and seminaries, including at Eastern
Baptist Theological Seminary. His published works include Great Words of the Faith, Evangelistic Emphases in
Ephesians, The Gospel of Paul, and Jesus Still Has Something to Say, along with numerous journal articles and
church school curricula.
A family funeral service was held on August 21 and a memorial service took place on September 19 at First
Baptist Church of Pasadena, in California.
He is survived by son, Robin, and daughter, Cherry. He was predeceased by his wife, Lotus, in 2001.
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