The commission met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, during the BWA’s Annual Gathering from July 4-9, 2011.
The 2011 session of the BWA Heritage and Identity Commission began on Monday, July 4, with a tour from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka (or Malacca) organised by the Commission and open to all interested people. It was a full day tour running from 9 am to 6 pm from the BWA Annual Gathering hotel venue. There were two mini-bus loads of people with a guide for each. In addition, former HIC chair, Dr Charles Weber provided extra commentary on the signifcance of Melaka and various churches for the history of Christian missions in the Far East.
Sites visited included several churches of historic interest including St Peters where Dr Weber gave a fascinating overview of strategic significance of the city, Christ Church connected with some of the most outstanding missionary work in this area and as far away as China, and St Paul’s where St Francis Xavier was first buried.
The first session was held on Tuesday, July 5, and consisted of a short introductory gathering, the first for the quinquennium. There were general introductions and preliminary discussions about various projects that could be taken by the Commission.
After a short break, the HIC joined with the newly formed Freedom and Justice Commission for a session on the religious situation in the host country.
The second session, held on Thursday, July 7, was devoted to the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Dr. Brian Talbot (Scotland) presented a carefully worded paper covering the history of the Bible to the present with special attention to Baptist usage and attitudes. Stephen Jennings (Jamaica) also presented a lengthy paper on ways in which the Bible has been used in some areas in relation to slavery. Both presenters then participated in a short Q and A.
The final session took place on Fri July 8 when Dr. David Parker (Australia) gave a paper on “Mapping a 21st Century Global Baptist Identity.” This was intended as a proposal for a major project for the Commission for the quinquennium. The Commission has given a good deal of attention in recent years to the “heritage” side of its charter, but less to “identity” yet the latter is a cause for a lot of interest and concern in many parts of the world.
A special feature of this paper were the many responses sent in from Commission members. These were incorporated into the paper or read specially during its presentation and helped to provide an interactive feeling to the topic.
Discussion followed on this proposal and other possible projects for the Commission. It was agreed that efforts would be made to compile short cameos of Baptist bodies around the world for publication on this website and also to give further consideration to the global mapping project.