Thousands of Baptists around the world are expected to gather in Seoul next week for the Annual General Council of the Baptist World Alliance. This is the first General Council meeting scheduled since the Southern Baptist Convention and the Alliance broke their 100-year-old tie, and the meeting where delegates will elect a new president to serve for the next five-year tenure.
The incumbent President, Billy Kim, leads the Sewon Baptist Church in Korea – a powerful megachurch with over 15,000 members. The last time the BWA held their council in Korea was in 1990, when thousands of delegates gathered and 10,000 onlookers were baptized.
According to the BWA, this year’s Council will focus on evangelism and leadership training; both programs will be presented to the delegates for approval.
This proposed evangelism and leadership focus is designed, “to challenge the worldwide Baptist family to present the good news of Jesus Christ, make disciples and baptize and integrate new believers into local congregations around the world,” the BWA newsletter wrote.
Many churches have opened their pulpits to preachers attending the council, and many governmental figures – including the Mayor of Seoul – have welcomed the council.
Denton Lotz, General Secretary of the Alliance, said the members of the Alliance must welcome each other with the hearts willing to pray for one another.
“The Holy Spirit is moving among our people as they continue to witness for Christ, often in difficult situations, “Lotz said. “Sometimes our brothers and sisters experience persecution, imprisonment, burning of churches and the rest, but in spite of these hardships they persevere and keep their eyes on the goal and upward call of Christ.”
Lotz also mentioned the bitter BWA-SBC split, and thanked those who encouraged the BWA through the difficult times.
“The BWA is grateful for the many letters of encouragement and support received from around the world,” said Lotz.
Lotz also urged Baptists around the world to “rejoice in the tremendous growth in churches in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe,’ according to the BWA. At that light, Lotz said the Baptist leaders will have the chance to “experience the dynamism and prayer life of the church in Korea” and to attend “the early morning pray meetings that are a staple of Korean church life.”
In conjunction with the Council, Korean Baptists will sponsor a Baptist rally that will feature contemporary Christian artist Larnelle Harris and the Korean Baptist Children Choir.
The General Council will be held from July 26 to July 31.