The delegates to the Baptist World Alliance’s General Council in Seoul Korea nominated a new president, reappointed the current general secretary and other board members, approved new membership guidelines and a five-year global evangelism program, July 26-31.
Meeting at the incumbent president Billy Kim’s home country South Korea, the delegates nominated David Coffey – general secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain – to inherit the position during the BWA’s Centenary Congress next year at his own homeland.
"The decision you have just made confirms this is the call of God on my life for the next few years,” said Coffey, who will serve as President from 2005-2010. “To be commissioned next year in my mother country is the deepest privilege."
Meanwhile, Denton Lotz, general secretary of the BWA since 1980, was reelected for another five-year term that will begin in the beginning of 2005.
Robert Ricker, a Vice-president of the BWA and Chair of the Personnel Committee, who gave his report, said the Committee’s decision was “unanimous and enthusiastic” because it was the best decision for the BWA at this time.
In accepting his re-election, Lotz told the council that he had a renewed vision for the future despite what setbacks were brought in the past.
“This has been a tremendous year of encouragement and support but also deep waters and a break in our fellowship which has caused great distress, especially in our minority conventions around the world,” he said, in reference to the 16-million member Southern Baptist Convention’s June decision to breach fellowship with the BWA. “But we have to go forward.”
"We believe unity is central to the gospel and basic to the Biblical understanding of the church," he said. "Unity in the body of Christ is not to be taken lightly, it is the divine imperative. One of the greatest hindrances to evangelism in the world is the lack of unity," Lotz said.
Lotz emphasized, "We wish to affirm again for all to know, our adherence to the historic doctrines of our faith ... and our joyful affirmation of faith in the meditation of Jesus Christ as solely and entirely sufficient for salvation, 'for there is salvation in no one else.'" (Acts 4:12)
In addition to Lotz, three of the current BWA directors were re-elected for the 2005-2010 term. These members were: Paul Montacute, Baptist World Aid, Ellen Teague, Finance and Administration and Emmett Dunn, BWA Youth Department.
Meanwhile, Ian Chapman, former president of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, was elected to serve a one-year term as director of Promotion and Development, beginning August.
Tony Culpit, the current director of Evangelism and Education and Study Research, was approved to lead the five-year Living Water Evangelism Program that was also approved by the Council during the Seoul meeting. Culpit is set to retire from his current position next July as he begins his new commission.
The Council approved the Living Water Evangelism Program as a way to “enlist and equip Baptists for evangelism and leadership for the next quinquennium.”
"We believe this movement will impact the 216 BWA member bodies in a transforming way,” said Culpit. "We believe in the power and we seek the blessing of the Holy Spirit on this whole Living Water strategy.”
In other business matters, the BWA added a new member to its fellowship: the Lairam Jesus Christ Baptist Church in Mizoram, North East India.
According to T.H. Vanlalzauva, general secretary of the group, there are 80 local churches and 21,000 members in the church and a complete program of evangelism, mission and compassionate care ministries. "
Meanwhile, the Council temporarily suspended the membership of the Samavesam of Telugu Baptist Churches until March 2005, because of continued problems of in-fighting and violence over property; the group has split into three different parts.
The Council also agreed to make several changes in its membership standards. The current union and convention only membership has now been expanded to admit individuals, churches and organized groups.
Additionally, the Council approved a resolution on the Korean peninsula that “commends the Korean Baptist Convention for their faithful witness to the Gospel, both within South Korea and in its mission work throughout the world.”
"It expresses concern, about the continued separation of the families and communities of the two countries and supports the efforts of BWAid and others who help feed children and others in need of food in North Korea,” said incumbent president Billy Kim.
"It encourages those countries with influence in the region and the International Atomic Energy Authority to renegotiate a peaceful resolution of the inspection regime for nuclear power facilities in North Korea, and anticipates with hope the ultimate peaceful reunification of the peoples of Korea,” he continued. "I deeply appreciate that particular resolution because it is dear to the hearts of Korean people.”