BWA Continues Call for Unity Despite Break

"Let the word go forth that Baptists of the world love the Southern Baptists"
( [email protected] ) Feb 20, 2004 11:39 PM EST

NASHVILLE, TN – Despite the decision of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee to withdraw support and membership from the Baptist World Alliance, the BWA General Secretary called upon Southern Baptists to join him in celebrating the BWA’s 100th Anniversary this coming July.

“Indeed we are sorry that SBC leaders have voted to recommend the end of 100 years of fellowship,” said General Secretary Denton Lotz, “But, let the word go forth that Baptists of the world love the Southern Baptists and want them to know that they will always be welcome at our meetings and conferences and congresses. This is a personal invitation to all Southern Baptists to come to Birmingham, England to celebrate with us our centennial, July 27-31, 2005. Our quinquennial theme is “Baptists Together in Christ: 1905-2005.”

Lotz attended the Feb. 17 SBC meeting where the vote was cast. However, neither Lotz nor his colleagues who were present were allowed to address the group.

Following the decision, Lotz merely said, “We are, of course extremely saddened by this decision of the SBC Executive Committee to withdraw from the BWA. After 100 years of fellowship, working together for Christ, seeking ways to evangelize the world, helping the poor and needy, defending religious freedom, encouraging human rights, praying together and celebrating our Baptist heritage and identity at congresses and conferences … now all of that is suddenly to end! How sad! How contrary to the command of our Lord Jesus to be one so that the world might believe!”

Prior to the February convention, the BWA president, General Secretary and Vice-presidents wrote a letter proposing a reconciliation meeting. However, Morris Chapman, President and Treasurer of the SBC Executive, expressed almost no hope that either reconciliation would take place.

The BWA therefore has but to wait for the final call from the SBC delegates this June; should the delegates approve the executive committee’s call, the two groups will be officially split. Beginning with the start of the fiscal year, Oct. 1, the SBC will also cut funding to the BWA.

Chapman stressed that the money taken from the BWA would be used “to begin to build strong, conservative bridges with partners around the world.” The vast resources of the SBC, he said would be made available for conferences, “at their invitation, based upon relationships.”

“In this generation,” Chapman asked, “does the BWA best represent who we are to Baptists around the world or does the SBC best represent itself?”