The 100th birthday celebration of the Baptist World Alliance will take place at the Baptist World Centenary Congress in Birmingham, England from July 27-31, 2005.
The Baptist World Centenary Congress, held every five years and next year, is expected to attract in excess of 15,000 people from all corners of the world.
Recently Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Baptist Church in Lake Forest, California and best-selling author of 'The Purpose-Driven Life' and 'The Purpose-Driven Church' announced that he, his wife Kay and a number of his staff will participate in the event. He will join an array of top speakers coming to the event such as former US President Jimmy Carter. Since its release and Warren's book 'The Purpose Driven Life' sold over 14 million copies and has been named the best selling hardback non-fiction book.
Carter, a Nobel Prize winner and the first person to be awarded the BWA Human Rights Award, will try to encourage all Christians to work for the poor and needy, and for justice. The International Bible Study presented by Carter will be held on the Sunday morning of the Congress.
The congress will promote themes of salvation, baptism, the Holy Spirit, compassion and cleansing. A particular focus will be on the challenges and changes required in the face of today's ever-evolving society.
Among the host of other speakers there will be evangelical activist Tony Campolo, and Solomon Ishola - one of the newest leaders of the Baptist Church in Africa, and head of the Nigerian Convention. Billy Kim, well-known for his efforts in evangelism, will also address the gathering in conclusion of his five-year term as BWA President.
Representing Latin America will be Fausto Vasconcelos, President of the Union of Baptists in Latin America and pastor of the First Baptist Church in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Myra Blyth, a deputy general secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, will represent the face of England during the Congress. Blyth is a well-known minister who has worked closely with youths in her ecumenical work, and is also known for her art and music forms of worship. The singer/song-writer/established author, also currently lectures worship and ecumenical studies in Regent's Park College, Oxford.
BWA General Secretary Denton Lotz said, "This BWA Centennial is an opportunity for all Baptists to gain inspiration from the past and renew our commitment to reaching the world for Christ in the new century. God has blessed us for 100 years, but we must seek the new path for Baptists to be effective witness in the 21st Century. I believe the Congress will provide us this challenge."