The commission met in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, during the BWA’s Annual Gathering from July 3-6, 2001. The meetings were very well attended with a total of 55 different people attending from 15 different countries.
Tuesday 3 July 2001
Chuck Weber welcomed people to the first meeting of the Commission in PEI. Those present introduced themselves to the gathering. There were some initial announcements about the programme for the week.
Dr. Robert Wilson, Professor of Church History at the Acadia Divinity School in Canada was introduced.
Robert (Bob) gave a very interesting address entitled “On the Wings of Revival: Atlantic Baptist History from 1760 to 2000.”
Following the address Bob fielded questions and distributed some sheets displaying further resources on the history of Canadian Baptists.
Wednesday 4 July 2001
Elias Mutale was billed to speak about Baptists in Zambia but had to return home when he received news that his father had died.
In the absence of Elias, Bob Wilson continued to address questions arising from his address the previous day. In this address he alluded to theological training in Canada.
Former President Andrew MacCrae prepared a paper on ‘Training Baptist Ministers in the Maritimes – the story of the Acadia Divinity School.’ This was given in his absence to the Academic and Theological Work Group meeting of the Baptist World Alliance on Thursday 5 July 2001 at the PEI. General Council. Read this paper.
Dr Lionel Moriah, native of Guyana was introduced. In 1978 Lionel moved to Canada where he did several degrees. He has preached in many Canadian churches. He is now pastor of the Cornwallis Street United Baptist Church and Moderator of the African United Baptist Association which spans the breadth of Nova Scotia. Dr Moriah addressed the meeting on “The Role of the Baptists in Guyana” and answered questions. Read this paper.
Thursday 5 July 2001
Dr Paul Dekar, was introduced. Paul R. Dekar is Niswonger Professor of Evangelism and Missions, Memphis Theological Seminary, 168 East Parkway South, Memphis TN USA 38104. After three years of United States government and church service in Cameroon, Dekar wrote a Ph.D. thesis on Presbyterian work in Cameroon (University of Chicago, 1978). From 1976-1995 he taught at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Books include For the Healing of the Nations (Macon: Smyth and Helwys, 1993) and Holy Boldness: Practices of an Evangelistic Lifestyle (Macon: Smyth and Helwys, in press).
Paul Dekar gave the following paper on “Jamaican and British Baptists in West Africa, 1841-1888” and fielded questions. Read this paper.
A video was screened (obtainable from BWA) on “The Baptist Mission in Myanmar.” Following this a commentary was given by John Sundquist and Ken Manley.
Friday 6 July 2001
A time of refreshments (provided by Chuck and Linda Weber) was enjoyed by all and preceded the formal meeting.
As a way of providing continuity from last year’s meeting in Cuba two reports were given:
Dinorah Mendez gave an “Update on Latin America.” Read this paper.
Leoncio Veguilla also spoke about “Baptists in Cuba During the Last Year.” Read this paper.
Heritage & Identity Commission Business
The Secretary of the Commission, Geoff Pound, tabled the apologies of John Briggs, Justice Anderson, Bill Sumners and then raised the following matters for report and discussion:
1. Membership of the Commission
In response to the request of some people about eligibility for membership of the Commission, Geoff Pound reported that people may be recommended by the Chair of the Commission (accompanied by a brief CV listing information about the nominee) and at the decision of the General Secretary, Denton Lotz. The intention is that each commission be diverse and that the nominee is someone who appears to be able to attend 2 out of 5 meetings each quinquennium.
After 5 years the makeup of the Commission changes although there is a desire that there be a certain continuity.
It is a concern if people do not attend (although it is understood that the cost of attendance is often prohibitive). Members of the Commission are urged to be responsive and active even if they are in postal or email contact. It is a waste for mailings to be sent to people if they are not keen to receive and respond to such information.
In the discussion people cautioned about a speedy removal of people from the Commission (we cannot do this anyway) and encouraging the use of the web site to communicate with people.
2. Format of Heritage Commission Sessions
Geoff mentioned that the Executive does not meet from one session to the next and that it regularly requests members to suggest topics and presenters. The Executive was recommending the following flexible format for its four sessions each year:
a) Local History: Focus on the history of Baptists in the area where the Commission is meeting-Cuba, Canada etc.
b) Resources: Address an area that might provide people with resources for stimulating awareness in Baptist Heritage & Identity e.g. The art of developing archives; Baptist Walking Tours; Dramatic Monologues etc.
c) Baptist Identity: Focus on an issue about Baptist identity. This could be a joint session between the Doctrine and Heritage & Identity Commissions.
d) Housekeeping: Talk about projects, writing tasks, preparation for the next Congress, Centennial Book etc.
In the discussion on this matter several people stated that they thought Baptist identity should become a more major emphasis of this Commission particularly people from countries where Baptists and others do not know the distinctive contribution of the Baptist movement.
There was a plea that if the resources are not multi-language then the resources session may not be very helpful.
3. Heritage Web Site
Geoff spoke of the decision in Cuba 2000 to establish a web site and appoint David Parker, our web master. The intention was to develop a basic site, not an expensive or complicated one with bells and whistles.
The web site address is www.bwa-baptist-heritage.org It is linked to the BWA web site. It has become a model for other commissions for the interchange and dissemination of ideas and information.
There is currently an introductory page, a page for resources (please add to this!), histories of Baptist work in different countries (can you write some?), a notice board and news page and a page for papers.
The following areas have been suggested as possible ways to develop the site:
a. Development of links to other Baptist heritage sites.
b. Listing of courses to aid the learning about Baptist heritage and identity.
c. Redrafting the introductory article on the history of the Baptists.
d. Developing a new logo (any ideas?).
e. News bulletins that can be down loaded by churches for their newsletters.
f. Adding a counter to help us count the number of visitors and thus evaluating the site.
g. Adding sections in different languages (any helpers for translation?)
h. Communication-letting people know about the site.
Members of the Commission expressed (by clapping) their sincere appreciation for the work of David Parker in establishing and maintaining the web site and asked for this to be relayed to him.
4. Centennial Book
Dick Pierard gave a report on the progress of this book.
The BWA conference in PEI was a marvelous time for people to share various resources they had produced or were aware of. These are listed and wherever possible a note of where they may be procured:
BWA Book List
BWA Resource Sheet
The BWA is asking you to fill this in to discover from you your areas of expertise and recommendations you might have of others who may speak at future meetings of the BWA.
Beliefs Important to Baptists: Teacher’s Edition by William Pinson and published by BAPTISTWAY. A 21 page booklet for leading a study on Baptist beliefs. Obtainable from BAPTISTWAY, Baptist General Convention of Texas. This is also translated into 6 languages-5 Asian languages and Spanish.
The New Zealand Journal of Baptist Research, edited by Dr Martin Sutherland, published by the NZ Baptist Historical Society.
Zeljko Mraz reported on the new book “Baptists in Croatia” that is written in Croatian and available from him.
The Southern Baptist Historical Society has produced 12 pamphlets. For more information contact Albert Wardin.
Horace Russell spoke about his new book, “The Missionary Outreach of the West Indian Church: Jamaican Baptist Missions to West Africa in the Nineteenth Century” published in 2000 by Peter Lang Publishing.
Geoff Pound, Secretary of BWA Baptist Heritage & Identity Commission