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Drawing a Diverse Family Together

 "A lot of American Baptists think that BWA is a new airline," joked Baptist World Alliance General Secretary Denton Lotz as he spoke to a group at the CBF General Assembly in Birmingham. He noted, "There is some confusion over who we are and what we do." He emphasized a primary focus to provide a worldwide structure to demonstrate unity on common goals such as pressing for religious liberty and strengthening networks for evangelism and relief aid. BWA also provides a forum to dialog with other faith groups around the world where Baptist beliefs about the centrality of Jesus Christ can be put forward. He gave an example, "We didn't go there (Cuba) to cozy up to Castro but to raise issues. And because we went, thousands of Bibles were allowed into the country and now thousands of house churches are meeting."

The important work of Baptist World Alliance in drawing together a world wide diverse Baptist family in united ministries is a cause worth celebrating and supporting.. Louisiana CBF has made giving to BWA an annual line item in its budget.

Further clarifying the Alliance role Lotz explained, "BWA is not a church or a denomination, we don't write doctrinal statements...that is what the 211 conventions and unions [around the world] do." Given the diversity among Baptists, BWA does not police doctrine but builds on commonalities. He cited differences:
-       In Russian churches, believers generally don't hold to "once saved always saved."
-       The many Seventh Day Baptist groups don't worship on Sunday.
-       In China, 40% of Baptist pastors are women.
Just because not all Baptists would support these issues or others is no reason we cannot work together on the many areas we agree.

Lotz also pointed to the lessons we have to learn from our brothers and sisters in less favorable circumstances than ourselves. It is exciting that CBF has stepped up its support and cooperative work with BWA in Lotz's words, "not because Baptists in the Third World need your money, but because you can learn from them how to experience First Century Christianity."