The commission met in Santiago, Chile, during the BWA’s Annual Gathering from July 2-7, 2012.
The Heritage and Commission program was attended by large numbers for most of the sessions. In fact, there was an overflow for some of the sessions, with people spilling into the area outside the meeting room. The local interest was very encouraging and the discussion and involvement of the audience in these sessions were inspiring.
The final session was a first for the commission with a live interview using Skype with the author of an important book on the history of Baptists in Latin America. It was introduced by BWA Vice-Chair, Dr. Daniel Carro.
Wednesday, July 4, 2:00-4:30 PM
The paper covered the origins of Baptist work in Chile which go back to 1821 with the arrival of the educator Diego Thompson, German Baptists in the 1880s, and a Scottish Baptist who in 1907 left the mission he was serving to form a Baptist church. A Baptist Union was established in 1908. A great deal of missionary support followed, but an urge towards local control resulted in the formation of a separate Chilean mission in the 1930s.
Thursday, July 5, 10:30 AM-12:30 PM
Pastor Jacome, recently elected as secretary of the Latin American Baptist region, presented a powerful and scholarly paper on Latin American Baptist regional identity, springing from the author’s long association. He discussed two axes, approaches and challenges, and set the Baptist cause within the framework of other movements in the area. He proposed that historical distinctive Baptist principles were important but needed to be understood and practiced within a new environment including the rapid growth of Christian work in the region and the “Latin Americanization” of Christian and other life. Baptist life was strengthened and Baptist identity was continually “under construction.”
Thursday, July 5, 5:00-7:30 PM
Presenter, Dr. David Parker, Australia, “Mapping a 21st Century Global Baptist Identity, Part 2: Identifying the Baptist DNA.”
David Parker presented a follow-up to his proposal last year, which involved analyzing empirical data on Baptist life. He used statistical data from Australia (and elsewhere) as a sample of the methodology and supported it by references to other material such as historical studies and church promotional material in an effort to determine the actual characteristics of Baptists today. Dr. Timothy George from the BWA Commission on Doctrine and Christian Unity visited briefly to provide an update on Baptist ecumenical dialogues.
Friday, July 6, 5:00-7:30 PM
This part of the session consisted of reflection on the book An Evangelical Saga: Baptists and Their Predecessors in Latin America by Justice C. Anderson (Xulon Press, 2005) by Dr. Daniel Carro and a presentation by the author, live by Skype.
Dr. Carro explained the importance of Dr. Justice Anderson’s pioneering history of Baptists in Latin America as the product of a thoughtful, devoted, and passionate missionary historian. Read Dr. Carro’s paper here.
Dr. Anderson then appeared on the screen via Skype, giving the background of his writing and discussing the importance of the evangelical precursors of Baptists in Latin America.
The second half of the meeting was spent discussing commission projects and business, led by Dr. Craig Sherouse. Items of business included former projects, the program for the 2013 Annual Gathering sessions, contact with members, and ongoing projects including Global Baptist identity and the short histories of Baptist groups for the website.
The session concluded the meetings of the commission for 2012 and it was agreed that all sessions had been interesting and highly successful with capacity attendance at some of them.
Members of the Heritage and Identity Commission were also able to attend a special Roundtable presented by the Freedom and Justice Commission on Thomas Helwys’s book The Mystery of Iniquity. A paper was presented by Rev. Tony Peck, and three other panelists joined in a lively discussion to mark the 400th anniversary of the book. They included Ken Sehested (USA), Nicholas Wood (UK), and L. Rivera-Pagan (Puerto Rico).
Freedom and Justice Commissions–Religious Freedom. Dr. Oscar Garcia Pereira presented “About the Baptists and Their Religious Freedom in Chile.”