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IMPORTANT DECISIONS Made at Annual Gathering

By Eron Henry

During the Baptist World Alliance Annual Gathering in Ocho Rios, both the General Council and Executive Committee made

signifi cant decisions and accepted important recommendations. Constitutional Changes

A number of important constitutional changes were adopted

by the General Council. The provision that restricted membership on the Executive Committee to 25 persons has been removed. In the previous constitutional changes that took effect in 2009, vice presidents were excluded from the Executive Committee but that has been reversed. Vice presidents will now be included on the Executive.

The Executive Committee now has a more direct role in

the appointment of senior BWA staff. In the case of the general secretary, that body shall name a search committee for the position, with the search committee’s recommendation taken to the General Council. For elected staff directors, the Executive Committee shall consider the recommendations made by a search committee consultatively named by the general secretary and the chair of the Human Resources Committee. The election of president, fi rst vice president, vice presidents and treasurer is now vested in the General Council, rather than the Baptist World Congress, as previously applied. The Nominations Committee may make its nominations for voting to the General Council in the year preceding the congress. The next Baptist World Congress, which is normally held every fi ve years, will be in Durban, South Africa, in July 2015. The offi cers, which are expected to be elected by the General Council in July 2014, will be presented to that congress. The General Council is now authorized to make appointments

of offi cers if unexpected vacancies occur. These persons shall serve until the conclusion of the next Baptist World Congress. The Executive Committee has been empowered to make emergency acting appointments of offi cers “if the time delay before the next General Council is deemed to be too long.” The president-elect, who is now likely to be chosen one

year before the Congress, shall sit as an ex-offi cio offi cer on the Nominations Committee, along with the president and general secretary. Article VII of the bylaws has been amended to exclude specifi c

reference to “the clusters of commitment” and instead refers to “main divisions of work adopted from time to time by the General Council.” A notice of motion that BWA regional secretaries be named to and seated as members of the General Council was passed for consideration at the 2014 General Council.

Documents Ratifi ed Baptist

A covenant document, Principles and Guidelines for Intra- Relationships, which aims to provide a framework

for BWA response to the diversity of language, culture, opinions and perspectives in meetings and in the various operations of the international body, was ratifi ed by the General Council after it was endorsed by the BWA Executive Committee in March of this year. The report of the second round of Baptist-Catholic theological


BWA President John Upton (right) welcomes the Convention of Independent Baptist Churches of Brazil into BWA membership

conversations, which took place from 2006-2010, was endorsed. Published as a paperback book, it can be purchased from Amazon and other online bookstores.

New Member Organizations

Five organizations were accepted as members of the BWA by the General Council. Two groups from Haiti were accepted into membership. The Baptist Mission of South Haiti was formed in 1936 and has 50,000 members in 488 churches. The Connection of Haitian Baptist Churches for Integral Mission comprises 15,000 members in 58 churches and was established in 2004. Both groups join the Haiti Baptist Convention and Baptist Haiti Mission as BWA members in the Caribbean nation. Another Caribbean applicant, the Turks and Caicos Islands

Baptist Union is an association of 500 members in 13 churches and was established in the 1830s. The Baptist Church of Congo was formed in 1996 and has 2,850 members in 26 churches in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It becomes the eleventh BWA member in the DRC, a vast country with greater land area than Western Europe. A third Brazilian group has gained BWA membership, the Convention of Independent Baptist Churches. It has 67,908 members in 437 churches, and joins

the Resolutions

Sixteen resolutions were passed by the General Council. Baptists around the world were encouraged to pray for Nelson Mandela, his family, and the people of South Africa and “to follow Mandela’s example of courage, grace, truth and reconciliation in our dealings with others.” The government of the United States was asked to lift its long

standing embargo on Cuba. Declaring “that more than two decades have passed since the end of the Cold War, and that most negative manifestations of that struggle have been ameliorated, except for the continuing USA embargo against Cuba begun in 1960,” the BWA encouraged “the governments of USA and Cuba to set in place a process for negotiating legitimate bilateral grievances.” Baptists, the BWA stated, should “stand in solidarity with Cuban Baptists who have been negatively impacted by this embargo.” The BWA expressed concern about situations in the Middle East and North Africa, noting “that attacks by Islamic extremists have victimized men, women and children in more than one location,” and that “Christians have been targeted and persecuted in contexts where they have been perceived to be loyal to specifi c regimes in several countries.”

Brazilian Baptist

Convention and the National Baptist Convention in the largest country in South America.

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