2015 BWA General Council Resolutions Paper
1. The diverse worldwide Baptist family, represented through the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), is concerned about the contemporary religious, missional, social, cultural, political and economic issues that affect the global family.
2. One means of giving expression to the conclusions Baptists draw on issues of concern to them, and of bearing witness to this before the world, is through the preparation, adoption and sharing of resolutions proposed by member bodies, commissions, etc., for approval by the BWA General Council.
3. BWA’s approach to framing resolutions is informed by biblical teaching and predicated on Baptists’ trinitarian faith. The resolutions are shaped by the values and convictions generally affirmed by Baptists and are proposed by members of the Baptist family, or by the Resolutions Committee, which also considers, reviews and amends them where necessary for presentation to the General Council for consideration and possible adoption.
A. BWA Resolutions
1. Resolutions reflect an effort by the churches to interpret God’s will for all of creation in the contemporary age. They reflect the mind of Christ as it is discerned by Baptists worldwide.
2. The united position expressed in resolutions affirmed by BWA General Council members, meeting under the lordship of Jesus Christ, results from common discernment among Baptists who submit themselves to biblical teaching and serve in the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. Resolutions approved by the BWA General Council constitute a potentially effective form of witness to the world. For this reason, they need to be developed through an intentional process of prayer and discernment that may best begin prior to the Annual Gathering.
B. What justifies a resolution at the BWA General Council
- Many pressing issues call forth the attention and response of the church. Baptists working together through the BWA are aware of the wide range of issues of concern facing our world and they select, from among these issues, those that are considered particularly important and worthy of BWA advocacy.
- Issues selected, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, may be related to a number of foci:
- The theme of the quinquennium
- The location of the Annual Gathering
- Concerns emerging at meetings of the Executive Committee
- Initiatives from BWA member bodies
- Insights emerging at an Annual Gathering, for example, from the work of the BWA commissions
- The work of commissions
- Pressing concerns in the world
- BWA, discerning the leading of the Holy Spirit, addresses matters identified as important and therefore meriting attention, reflection and a resolution. In doing so, BWA remains mindful of the range of issues and themes contained within what is a significant body of thinking that reflects how, over the years, the BWA General Council has responded to issues that challenge, inhibit or enable the witness and discipleship of Baptist Christians.
- As far as possible, resolutions are drafted and circulated to members of the Resolutions Committee prior to the start of an Annual Gathering. The Committee members devote the time required for prayer, study and consideration of the proposed resolutions and arrive at the meeting ready to contribute to the process of common discernment in which the Committee participates.
- Given the limited time available for consideration of proposed resolutions during the General Council meeting, the Resolutions Committee chooses wisely what merits a resolution, taking also into account the limited time available to the Committee members during the Annual Gathering at which sessions are set aside for meetings of the Committee. Committee members will also make use of other opportunities for consultation with each other. If a resolution is considered important, but the Committee is unable to complete work on it, consideration of that resolution may be deferred to another year.
- The Resolutions Committee should resist issuing resolutions dealing with issues BWA has already addressed through earlier resolutions and on which there is no change of mind. If a critical situation or issue persists from one meeting to another, but with enough significant change that it warrants a second resolution, the resolution it yields should make reference to the previous resolution/s while making clear the development that calls for action.
- Any issue which is largely a concern only of a single member body would mostly not merit a resolution. Resolutions usually address issues that have wide-ranging implications for people and communities in the worldwide context in which BWA is called to bear witness to our faith.
C. The kind of language that is helpful in resolutions
1. In finalizing resolutions for presentation to the BWA General Council, the Resolutions Committee endeavors to avoid literary complexity. It also resists forms of language which are representative of any one dominant culture and works to present clear and concisely articulated resolutions.
2. The Resolutions Committee ensures that the resolutions are both readable and comprehensible to the BWA family and merit the General Council’s approval.
D. The process leading to the approval of a resolution at BWA meetings
- In April of each year, the BWA General Secretariat, based on the desire for full participation by BWA member bodies and representatives, makes a call to all BWA member bodies to send draft resolutions to the Committee chair prior to the July Annual Gathering. The deadline for submission is one month before the meeting. The resolutions are circulated to members of the Resolutions Committee.
- Members of the Resolutions Committee take preparatory steps prior in order to contribute meaningfully to the resolutions process during an Annual Gathering. These include ensuring:
- Awareness of the issues facing the country in which the Annual Gathering meets of the extent to which the kingdom of God may challenge cultures and systems of power
- Knowledge of the current issues of concern to the BWA family and of political, social and religious issues and how biblical theology provides a resource for their evaluation
- Appreciation of global issues which may affect the entire BWA family and for the creative tension resulting from BWA’s approach to framing resolutions informed by biblical teaching and predicated on Baptists’ trinitarian faith The Resolutions Committee meets and identifies the issues that would be beneficial to focus on, and prepares the text of resolutions for consideration by the General Council. The Committee may initiate resolutions. During the resolutions process, close contact is kept with the BWA President and General Secretary who assist and advise throughout all of the pre- General Council process and final vote.
- The Committee’s conclusions are tested during a period of communal discernment which occurs in the open reading of the resolution before the whole General Council. Sufficient time is set aside for this first reading of the resolutions during the General Council meeting so as to create both ownership and understanding of what is proposed.
- The chairperson of the Resolutions Committee invites opinion and comment from those present who do not serve on the Resolutions Committee. In addition, the General Council is advised of the locations at which the draft resolutions are posted.
- Following reflections on the General Council’s discourse on the resolutions and the comments received from Council members, the Resolutions Committee makes needed change to the text of the resolutions that were read previously at the General Council meeting.
After the second reading of the resolutions, accompanied by visual aids that are available, the General Council registers its approval or disapproval.
The entire resolutions process is carried out with transparency and accountability which are necessary for the communal effort in making a good resolution. The process requires trust and collaboration and it is pursued with an earnest desire for the common good of all God’s people and of the Baptist community.
E. After the approval of resolutions
1. Resolutions approved by BWA are posted on the organization’s website. They are also circulated to BWA member organizations.
2. Recipients of the resolutions are expected to act on them in appropriate ways. For example, make representation to local civic and political authorities regarding the substance of the resolutions.
3. In some cases, it will be appropriate for the BWA General Secretariat to convey resolutions to relevant parties.
Appendix: A Possible Process for Resolutions Committee Operation
The following pattern may be followed by the Nominations Committee meeting during a BWA Annual Gathering.
1. On Monday, the Committee meets to complete its work on resolutions received or drafted.
2. On Tuesday, the Committee advises the Executive Committee of its work on the resolutions and posts the completed work electronically and via hard copy on a prominent display board.
3. On Wednesday, the Committee introduces the resolutions to the General Council with instructions that comments, amendments, etc. must be received by 6:00 p.m. for consideration by the Committee.
4. The committee meets again on Wednesday over the evening meal and afterwards to review the suggestions or amendments received and to engage in possible redrafting of the resolutions. Any new resolutions are also considered.
5. On Thursday morning, the Committee advises the General Council on any new resolutions that were received and posts them. Comments or amendments may be made on new proposals only by 6:00 p.m. on Thursday.
6. The committee meets Thursday over the evening meal and afterwards to review the suggestions or amendments received and to consider possible redrafting of the resolutions.
7. On Thursday evening, the Committee chair acquaints the President and General Secretary with the final form of the resolutions.
8. On Friday, the Committee presents the resolutions in their final form to the General Council for an up or down vote.
The chair of the Resolutions Committee should feel free to consult with the BWA president or general secretary at any stage during the resolutions process.
Original Source Bibliography: Callam, Neville, editor. Baptist World Alliance 2015 Yearbook: Minutes of the General Council Meeting and Directory. Falls Church, VA: Baptist World Alliance, 2015.
Original Source Footnote/Endnote: Neville Callam, ed., Baptist World Alliance 2015 Yearbook: Minutes of the General Council Meeting and Directory (Falls Church, VA: Baptist World Alliance, 2015), pp. 130- 134.
Online Document Full Citation: 2015 BWA General Council Baptist World Alliance Resolutions Paper; https://www.baptistworld.org/resolutions.
In-text Online Document Citation: (2015 BWA General Council Resolutions Paper).