The commission met in Seville, Spain, during the BWA’s Annual Gathering from July 9-12, 2002.
6.00-8.00pm Tuesday 9 July 2002
Eljee Bentley, Karen Bullock, Chuck Webber, Brian Bowers, Faith Bowers, Noel Vose, Robert Cochran, Lewis Drummond, Bill Slack, James Scirratt, Bernie Spooner, Ken Manley, John Briggs, Ole Thorndal, Bent Hylleberg, Daniel Carro, Quinn Pugh, Fred Anderson, Barry Allen, Cawley Bolt, Wayne Flynt, Jose Murat, Anna Maffei, Sheila Heneise, Myrta Garrett, Cheryl Wade, Robert Johnson, Zeljko Mraz, Jere Allen, Geoff Pound.
Welcome from Commission Chair: Dr Chuck Weber
Introduction to the Seville Programme
Chuck explained our format:
Tuesday: Practical workshop-fostering interest and study in Baptist research
Wednesday: Local Flavour-focus on Spanish Baptist story
Thursday: Baptist Identity-combined session with Doctrine Commission
Friday: Commission business-evaluation, future themes, Congress 2005 etc.
Sacred Sites: Gathering Our Global Heritage
Dr Karen Bullock, Associate Dean of PhD. Studies at South Western Baptist Seminary
This was a participatory session focused on the question, ‘How do we build an interest in Baptist heritage in our locality?’ Karen suggested that we undertake a significant project viz. The Global Gathering Initiative.
Goal: The purpose of the Global Gathering Initiative is to encourage all Baptists around the globe to research, identify and visually record the top Baptist history sites in their nations, regions and locales.
· The Study Commission on Baptist Heritage and Identity seeks to accumulate, process and record the visual data and publish the results.
· The Centennial Congress in 2005 would be the ideal place to introduce the results of the initiative with a visual display and a published book version of the research.
Strategy: Identify a representative from each Baptist Union or Convention to:
· Gather input from Baptists in his/her nation or region
· Identify the top 3-10 Baptist history sites
· Research site information
· Photograph or video the site
· Send a copy to the Commission (Karen)
· Target Date: July 2004
Generate Financial Assistance
· To help fund the display in Birmingham, England, 2005
· To help fund the publication of a photographic essay
· To transfer visuals to website and maintain update
· Help fund the placement of monuments in England?
In small groups we were asked to identify some major sacred Baptist sites (modeling what we could do in our own country or convention). These were named within the plenary session and collated on paper. Here are the major sites plus their scores:
*A Carey site in England ///// or India //
*Amsterdam (Smyth and Helwys) //////
*BWA Albert Hall ///
*Roger Williams /////
*Newport Seventh Day Baptists
*M L King Jnr. //
Karen showed a large number of slides of sacred Baptist sites (mainly from England the USA). Before viewing these slides we were divided up into groups that were to view the slides from the following standpoints:
1. Remembrance: Which of these sites call to mind and aid memory?
2. Representation: How many of Baptists did we see represented?
3. Communication to people passing by: What information do the sites and signs communicate about Baptist identity to people reading them for the first time?
4. Effectiveness: What are the helpful monuments or memorials and which are not so helpful?
Suggestions About Highlighting Sacred Heritage Sites:
Appoint a central coordinator in each church, nation, region, locality
Recognise resourceful people e.g. Albert Wardin and his book on Baptists around the world
Encourage people to determine their sites e.g. survey people at their Convention or Assembly meetings
Survey people at the Congress 2005
Present an unsanitized heritage-tell the truth
Tell the whole story, not just the story of Baptist clergy
Focus on the heritage of Baptists in the workplace committed to a variety of vocations, not just focusing on the congregational context and the vocation of pastoral leadership
Much history is invisible therefore we must come up with artistic representations.
Photos, books, covenants, sermons, addresses e.g. ‘I have a dream’ speech
Songs of the Baptists.
We live in a visual and interactive age
We made no formal decision about the Global Gathering Initiative. People recognized it was a huge task that would never be finished. If Karen would be happy to give the project drive and direction this would be greatly appreciated.
Karen was thanked for her stimulating workshop.
Wednesday 6.00-8.00pm 10 July 2002
Chuck Weber, Grigory Komendant, Rod Benson, Bill Slack, Bernie Spooner, Barry Allen, Anna Maffei, Yong Nam Ko, Cawley Bolt, John Briggs, Doug Cooms, Dick Pierard, Ken Manley, James Leo Garrett, Lewis Drummond, Wallace, Eleanor and Elizabeth Turnbull, Wayne Flynt, Quinn Pugh, Eljee Bentley, David Laubach, Edward Wheeler, Sheila Heneise, Steve Heneise, Robert Cochran, Geoff Pound
1. Faith Bowers spoke about some new British and French publications sponsored by the BHS.
2. Jere Allen spoke about inviting heads of USA Baptist Heritage organizations together in this last year. Fourteen people came together and met on four occasions. They have developed a web site, a Baptist Bibliography, they are collecting Baptist websites, developing resumes of Baptist historians, lists of Baptist historical societies and are working on the publication of a dictionary of Baptist terms.
3. Dick Pierard gave a Progress Report on the BWA Centennial History.
4. John Briggs said that Paternoster Press would welcome new books on Baptist identity
5. Albert Wardin spoke about New Century leaflets and raised the question about how to update his (now out of print book) on Baptists in the World. Two suggestions included putting it on the internet web site (for ongoing updating and wide distribution) and commissioning Baptist students (a team at Southwestern?) to ferret out the information from our different constituencies.
Via Dolorosa: A Historical Overview of the Protestant Experience in Spain
Zeljko Mraz introduced guest speaker, Dr Robert Johnson, Professor of Church History and Mission at the Central Baptist Theological seminary, Kansas City, Kansas, USA. Read this paper.
Robert wrote his doctoral thesis on the Christian experience in Spain. He taught at San Paulo, Brazil from 1979-92. He edits the American Baptist Quarterly.
Thursday 6.00-8.00pm 11 July 2002
Joint Session with the Doctrine & Interchurch Cooperation Commission.
A welcome to the joint meeting was given by chair of the Doctrine & Interchurch Cooperation Commission, Dr Ian Chapman.
A devotional thought based on 2 Timothy 2:8 was given by Baptist Heritage & Identity Commission chair, Dr Chuck Weber.
Ian Chapman said that in this session we want to:
1. Reflect on past conversations with other Church communities
2. State what we have learned through these conversations
3. Discuss how these conversations have clarified our identity with other faith groups.
A Survey of BWA Conversations with other Churches and Some Implications for Baptist Identity
An introduction was given to Dr Ken Manley, former chair of the Doctrine and Interchurch Commission, Vice Chair of the BWA, Distinguished Professor of Whitley College, Melbourne and contributor to the forthcoming history of the BWA. Read this paper.
Reports On Current Interchurch Conversations
1. Anglican: Rev Tony Cupit stated that there is a new process being implemented with the Anglicans. An important challenge is how the group gets its message out to the world. One initiative is in the way this process is contextualizing the conversation committee. In addition to current standing members (Ken Manley, Malcolm Yarnell, Tony Cupit and Paul Fiddes) the rest of the group is made up from Baptists from the region where the conversation is being held. In Norwich, England in January 2001 there were representatives from Scotland, Wales, Italy and Germany.
In Myanmar in January 2002, the conversation has included people from Australia, India and Myanmar. In Nairobi, Kenya there were people drawn from South Africa, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Kenya. Tony expressed the hope that the greater representation of people from around the world would result in a better dissemination of the information in the local areas where the conversations were staged. In each locality the general Secretary of the Baptist Union was asked to give a brief introduction of what was happening among Baptists in that region. In this way conversation participants would gain a better sense of the many facets of Baptist life in the world.
Future conversations with the Anglicans are scheduled for January 22-24, 2003 in Latin America and January 26-28 2003 in the Bahamas. In September 2003 the continuing committee will meet in Washington DC to collate the information and write up the report. A final meeting is set for March 2004 to polish up the findings which will be tabled with the BWA general Council in 2004 or the Congress in 2005.
2. Mennonites: John Sundquist reported on the initial meeting with the Mennonites in January 2002. This was held in Philadelphia and the focus of the conversation was on “Evangelism and the Peace Witness of the Church.” The last time this group was together was in 1992. This was an extremely good conference that promoted a closer understanding between Baptists and Mennonites, helping particularly with the stated intention of sharpening the Mennonites perception of evangelism and the Baptist perception of peace issues.
3. Roman Catholic: Josue Fonseca reported on the meeting in December 2001 of 13 Baptists and 9 Roman Catholics in Buenos Aires. The meeting had its origins in the Baptist/Catholic conversations sponsored between 1984-1988. It built on a further meeting in Rome in December 2000 between an International delegation of Baptists and leaders of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian Unity. The conference commenced with various presentations on the subject, “Theological issues between Baptists and Catholics in Latin America.” On the second day conversation was focused around a paper by Cardinal Kasper on “The Notion of ‘Communio’ as a Framework for Conversations on Controversial issues.”
Delegates were sensitive to the enormous challenges facing the Christian churches in Latin America today and the need for a common witness to our faith in Jesus Christ. The differences existing between the two traditions were clearly articulated and conceded, though not without pain. Yet there was a celebration of those areas that draw us together as followers of the Christ.
4. Global Christian Forum: Josue Fonseca reported on the Global Christian Forum held at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, 15-21 June 2002 on the theme, ‘Strengthening the Fellowship We Share.’ Josue, Denton Lotz and Samuel Chetti were representatives of the BWA. The forum brought together 55 participants from all continents representing such groups as the World Evangelical Alliance, Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, Mennonites, Roman Catholics, Adventists, Pentecostals, Quakers, World Council of Churches, Orthodox churches, Coptics, Salvation Army, World Vision, Reformed, Wesleyans, Armenians etc.
The conference commenced by sharing about personal ministry and issues from various constituencies. The next few days were spent in small groups and panels to reflect areas of mutual concern about the unity of the Christian church. Issues included matters of communication and language towards unity in Christ, the redundancy of many of the past controversies in ecumenism, the need for mutual respect, religious freedom, Islam and the new openness that is being experienced in the Christian world.
1. Knud Wumpleman testified to the personal enrichment that had come to him through participation in interchurch conversations, in particular the conversations between the Baptists and the Reformed Church in 1982. He spoke of the importance of listening honestly to one another without giving up our most important convictions. Knud called us to:
· Give our impressions of these conversations to those in our seminaries and those in our local churches.
· Encourage churches in staging interdenominational meetings of pastors, church leaders and church services (pulpit exchanges).
· Issuing letters to member churches about the key issues.
2. Noel Vose spoke of the furore in the early 1980s about commencing conversations between the Baptists and the Roman Catholics and the need to explain to his own constituency the concept behind the ‘dialogue’ or ‘conversation’ with the Roman Catholic church.
3. John Briggs spoke about different types of bi-lateral conversations and the role of the Christian world communion in conversations.
4. James Leo Garrett said that Baptists have never had a dialogue with churches which are part of the Pentecostal movement and encouraged initiatives to make this happen.
Dr Ian Chapman thanked all those who had presented reports and papers and had contributed to the day’s discussion.
Friday 3.00-5.00pm 12 July 2002
Chuck Weber, Zeljko Mraz, Dick Pierard, Charlene Pierard, Eljee Bentley, John Briggs, Michael Cleaves, Ken Manley, Albert Wardin, Sheila Heneise, Steve Heneise, Noel Vose, Bent Hylleberg, Rod Benson, Doug Coombs, Robert Cochran, Branko Lovrec, James Leo Garrett, Wayne Flynt, Dorothy Flynt, Ksenija Magda, Fred Anderson, Bill Slack, Quinn Pugh, Geoff Pound.
Geoff Pound welcomed participants and led in a devotional thought from the book of Hebrews-“the great cloud of witnesses.”
Identity in Dialogue: The Italian Baptists
This paper was presented by Anna Maffei, pastor of the Naples Baptist Church and Vice-President of the Baptist Union of Italy. Read this paper.
Baptist Heritage & Identity Commission Business
Geoff encouraged people to check the web site of our commission www.bwa-baptist-heritage.org and alert web master, David Parker, if there are items of news that could be posted. Appreciation was expressed to David Parker (in absentia) for his work in maintaining the web site.
In evaluating the Seville programme, people were genuinely appreciative of the range of meetings and papers. In looking towards the 2003 BWA meetings in Seoul, Korea, people were advised that it had been suggested that all the Commissions address the topic of ‘Worship.’ Members indicated that some approaches to this subject could include addresses on Baptist hymnody (John Briggs has given a paper on this theme), Baptist architecture and spaces and the way these have conveyed Baptist convictions. Further thoughts need to be fed to Chuck Weber or Geoff Pound as we get towards the formulation of our programme for 2003.
Church-State Relations in the Croatian Context
This was the final paper, presented by Zeljko Mraz, General Superintendent of the Baptist Union of Croatia.
Zeljko was thanked for his fine address. Members were thanked for their attendance and participation in the Commission meetings in Seville. Next year in Seoul!
Rev Dr Geoff Pound