On behalf of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), General Secretary Emeritus Denton Lotz, family member and long time friend of Billy Graham, issues the following personal statement:
The world has lost a great spiritual leader. Christians have lost a great evangelist. What was the basis of his spiritual strength? The strength of Billy Graham was his humility in the face of Christ! I remember when he began to preach in Eastern Europe. A Hungarian bishop who hosted him one day said, “You know the Communists said only bad things about Billy Graham, but now that I have been with him I know that his power comes from his humility before God!” It was an honor to accompany him on many of his trips to Eastern Europe where thousands suffering under communism were encouraged. Many gave their hearts to Christ.
I remember during the Vietnam War when we were in Geneva and some students were protesting. Billy went up to them and in Christian love talked to them and befriended them. He was not ashamed of the Gospel. Whether speaking to kings or queens or peasant farmers he respected all peoples. One of his great contributions to America and the world was his call for racial reconciliation. He was a friend of Martin Luther King Jr. Both recognized the power of the Gospel.
Billy Graham was an evangelist for the world, beyond denominationalism. He called men and women to Christ, not to his own tradition. Pope John Paul II was his friend. Once when I brought the pope greetings from Dr. Graham, his eyes lit up and he returned the greetings with thanks. Nevertheless, Dr. Graham was pleased to be part of the Baptist tradition. Since 1950 until 1990 he preached at every Baptist World Alliance congress. In later years, he was distressed at the disunity among Baptists. The call of Christ was a call for unity. At the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) Convention in 1995 in Atlanta, USA, he admonished us all, “Support the Baptist World Alliance!” It was always a joy to count on Dr. Graham’s support and encouragement.
Evangelicalism has lost its leader. It seems that we are now fragmented. But the question is not, “Who will be the next Billy Graham?” The question is, “Are Christians worldwide open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in their lives the way Dr. Graham was?” “The Lord giveth. The Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!”
The Baptist family around the world mourns the loss of this great man who did so much to advance the Kingdom of God here on earth.
The Baptist World Alliance, founded in 1905, is a fellowship of 238 conventions and unions in 124 countries and territories comprising 47 million baptized believers in 169,000 churches.
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Current Baptist World Alliance (BWA) General Secretary Neville Callam has welcomed the election of Elijah Brown as his successor.
Brown will be the ninth BWA general secretary since its founding in 1905. He will assume the position on January 1, 2018, after Callam’s retirement in December this year.
“Elijah is the product of a home with deep roots in the Texas Baptist family,” Callam noted. “His parents named him Elijah Matthew as a sign of their own passionate Judeo-Christian commitment.”
Callam indicated that Brown is thoroughly suited for his new role, pointing to his scholastic preparation. “His early formation in Texas is supplemented by years of study in the United Kingdom and research experience in Kenya, Uganda and Sudan.”
Brown’s longstanding involvement in BWA life, covering a full decade, gives him deep insight into the international organization. “His years of association with BWA, which began with his appointment to the first group of young people forming the Emerging Leaders’ Network, have contributed to widening the horizons of his mind and equipping him for service within a multi-national, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic milieu.”
Callam said the newly elected leader “has been gifted by God,” and has “a passion for social justice, including religious liberty, which influenced him to serve in the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, a religious liberty advocacy agency, where he gained managerial experience.”
In expressing full confidence in his successor, Callam declared that he “expects Elijah’s service with the BWA to be marked by robust advocacy in the cause of social justice and enthusiastic engagement witnessing to the transformative power of the Gospel.”
Brown will be the fourth American to serve as BWA general secretary. Previous Americans were Walter Lewis from Missouri (1939-1948); Robert Denny from Kentucky (1969-1980); and Denton Lotz from New York (1988-2007).
At a dinner held in his honor, Callam, who is from the small town of Gibraltar in Jamaica’s interior, was hailed as being “morally, ethically and spiritually strong as the fabled Rock of Gibraltar.” He was described as a “saint, friend, leader, colleague” who is “moral, compassionate, inclusive.”
The Baptist leader was commended for shepherding the global organization safely through the Great Recession, a period of global financial hardships and economic decline that emerged in 2008 and continued for several years.
Despite periods of economic uncertainty, the BWA under Callam’s leadership raised more than US$26 million, including almost US$12 million to Baptist World Aid, more than US$8 million from churches, institutions and individuals, and more than US$5 million to the General Fund. He implemented a comprehensive Donor Recognition Program and the 400 Legacy Gift program.
At the same time, the BWA undertook bold initiatives. A new Division on Freedom and Justice was launched after years of discussion and debate. The division was later merged with another division to form the Division on Mission, Evangelism and Justice. Several commissions were formed, including those on Interfaith Relations, Racial and Gender Justice, Social and Economic Justice, Peace and Reconciliation, Religious Liberty, Human Rights Advocacy and Creation Care.
In emphasizing the importance of evangelism, Callam secured funding, capitalized at US$250,000, for an evangelism award to be given out every five years.
Administratively, the Jamaican spent much of his decade of service streamlining the administration and operational organs of the BWA. He facilitated the revision of the Fiscal Policy Manual and the Human Resources Manual, established the BWA recording studio, redesigned the website, incorporated a conference registration system and updated the IT infrastructure.
The gathering was told that “the unity of the church and of all Christians” is particularly close to Callam’s heart. He has spent much time and effort nurturing “the cultivation of a corporate worship life and practice among Baptists.” In fulfilment of these dreams, he led a collaborative effort that resulted in the publication of the Covenant on Intra-Baptist Relationships. That document, available in 25 languages on the BWA website, has been viewed or downloaded 60,000 times.
BWA membership grew over the past 10 years, with 24 new member organizations, now numbering 238. New countries and territories such as South Sudan, Chad, Grenada, Turks and Caicos Islands and Vietnam were added to the BWA fold.
Described as an “intellectual giant of the faith but a humble servant,” he was lauded for being “resolute in his convictions of the efficacy of the life in Christ” and for being a “man of faith who lives, perceives, thinks and decides theologically.”
Callam came to the general secretary’s office after serving as a BWA vice president. He had wide ecclesial experience, having held every major position in the Jamaica Baptist Union, including serving twice as president, acting as general secretary and being elected treasurer.
He was a leader in Jamaica’s religious community, primarily through the Jamaica Council of Churches, and was a pioneer in religious and public broadcasting on the island. He was founding chair and general manager of TBC FM, The Breath of Change; founding board member of the National Religious Media Commission, operators of Love FM; and founding chair of the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica.
Regionally and globally Callam actively participated in the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship, where he was a vice president, and the World Council of Churches, where he was a longstanding member of the influential Commission on Faith and Order, chairing several of that commission’s committees.
Representatives from each of the six regions of the BWA spoke in Callam’s honor at the dinner in Bangkok, including BWA vice presidents Michael Okwakol of Uganda, Dimitrina Oprenova of Bulgaria and Naomi Tyler-Lloyd of the United States.
Others who spoke were Tomás Mackey from Argentina, Devon Dick from Jamaica and Frank Rees of Australia. Ashley Becker spoke on the behalf of the BWA staff.
Video tributes were received from former BWA General Secretary Denton Lotz and Ganoune Diop of the Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions, among others.
All video tributes, including those to be included in a second celebration planned for October in Virginia in the United States, will be available on the website.
The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) is now accepting nominations for the Congress Quinquennial Human Rights Award to be presented during the 21st Baptist World Congress in Durban, South Africa, in July 2015.
This lifetime achievement award is given to an individual who has shown significant accomplishments in global advocacy for human rights and the pursuit of social justice and peace within the local, national or the wider global community.
Persons shall not make nominations on their own behalf. Current employees of the BWA and participating judges shall not make nominations or be award candidates.
Past award winners were 2010, Denton Lotz, former BWA general secretary for a lifetime commitment to global human rights concerns; 2005, Lauran Bethell of American Baptist Churches USA for her work with exploited women and children in Thailand; 2000, Saw Simon from Myanmar, for work in the refugee camps in Northern Thailand; and 1995, former United States President Jimmy Carter, for commitment to human rights causes around the globe.
Deadline for submission is January 16, 2015. Applications submitted after the deadline date will not be processed.
2017 DENTON AND JANICE LOTZ HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD NOMINATION FORM
Purpose of Award: This award is given for significant and effective activities to secure, protect, restore, or preserve human rights as they are stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or in other declarations on human rights.
Eligibility: The award shall not be given to an organization, but to any individual who is a member of a Baptist church affiliated to a convention, union or association that is a member of the Baptist World Alliance Member Body.
Nominations may be made in any language used by a Member Body of the BWA.
Only completed applications will be accepted.
Nominations must be received by the Baptist World Alliance by Friday, December 16, 2016.
Name of Nominee: __________________________________________________________________
Your BWA Member Body Affiliation: ________________________________________________
Return to Baptist World Alliance 405 N. Washington St. Falls Church, VA 22046 USA Fax: +1 703 893 5160 firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
Previous Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award Recipients: Ilie Coada, Moldova (2014); Glen Stassen, USA (2013); Edgar Palacios, El Salvador/USA (2012; Wati Aier, India (2011); Leena Lavanya, India (2009); Dennis Datta, Bangladesh (2008); João and Nora Matwawana, Angola/Canada (2007); Gustavo Parajón, Nicaragua (2006)
BWA Congress Human Rights Award Recipients to date (For Reference): Jimmy Carter, USA (1995); Saw Simon, Myanmar (2000); Lauran Bethell, USA (2005); Denton Lotz, USA (2010); Corneille Gato Munyamasoko, Rwanda (2015)
(FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA – February 6, 2019) In response to the recent arrest of Baptist leader Gregory José Pérez, the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) is mobilizing efforts to connect with government authorities to encourage his release as well as providing financial resources to local ministries that are responding to needs of Venezuelans, both within the country and displaced refugees in neighboring nations.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Earthquakes that shook the Indonesian island of Lombok over the past week have resulted in at least 430 deaths, and the government is estimating economic losses in excess of several hundred million dollars.
ZURICH, Switzerland — Twelve Baptists from eight nations earned the Certificate in Christian Leadership during the Baptist World Alliance Annual Gathering July 1-6 in Zurich in a new leadership development effort of BWA’s Division of Mission, Evangelism, and Justice.
ZURICH, Switzerland – Advocating for religious liberty in eastern Ukraine, protecting women and girls, and keeping immigrant families together were the focus of resolutions approved by the Baptist World Alliance General Council in Zurich July 2-6.
ZURICH, Switzerland — Paul Msiza, president of the Baptist World Alliance, stressed in his report to the BWA General Council that “a church can never be an institution owned by human beings.” The church “belongs to God.”
ZURICH, Switzerland — Elijah Brown stressed the power of Scripture to transform lives and the importance of building bridges as he welcomed the global Baptist community to the historic city of Zurich Tuesday, July 3, in his opening remarks to the Baptist World Alliance General Council.