With the theme, "Jesus Christ Living Water", the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Centenary Congress opened today at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Birmingham to celebrate the 100th anniversary since its formation in London in July 1905.
Through this century, BWA has grown and now has a fellowship of 211 Baptist unions and conventions, which comprised a membership of more than 34 million baptized believers and a worshiping community of 80 million.
Over 10,000 people participated including some that came to hear former US president, Jimmy Carter, who will be preaching at a bible-study session at the NIA on Sunday morning and Rick Warren of Purpose Driven Life fame, who will be the main speaker on Saturday night celebrations.
In addition, Tony Camplo, the famous evangelical educator from the US will be focusing particularly on poverty, war, and injustice as he leads Thursday's group.
British evangelical Steve Chalke will look at the role of the church in building the kingdom of God as he leads Friday's talks.
Other evening celebration speakers include Billy Kim, the current President of the BWA; Myra Blyth, Chair of the Churches' Commission for Racial Justice in Great Britain; Solomon Ishola, General Secretary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention; and Fausto Vasconcelos (Brazil), President of the Union of Baptists in Latin America and the new BWA director for Evangelism and Education and Study and Research.
The BWA was founded in 1905 in London, making the 2005 Congress the Alliance's Centenary Congress.
The Main Sessions from the Congress will be video-streamed on the Internet.
In 1990 the Baptist World Congress was held in Seoul, Korea; in 1995 it was Buenos Aires, Argentina and in 2000 it was Melbourne, Australia.
For more information, please the BWA website at www.bwacongress2005.org.uk