A North American Baptist Covenant
In case you've not caught up on your Baptist news lately - last week President Jimmy Carter met with 18 Baptist leaders representing over 20 million North American Baptists. Recognizing a need for a unified Baptist voice on issues such as missions, these leaders with the guidance of President Carter drafted and signed the document below. A North American Baptist Covenant!
A NORTH AMERICAN BAPTIST COVENANT, April 10, 2006
Leaders of Baptist conventions and organizations representing more than 20 million Baptists in North America gathered at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia on April 10, 2006, as guests of President Jimmy Carter to discuss and explore additional opportunities for fellowship and cooperation.
The gathering included leaders from the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention, the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., American Baptist Churches, USA, the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the Baptist General Association of Virginia, Canadian Baptist Ministries, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Mercer University, and Mainstream Baptists.
The leaders of these organizations affirmed their desire to speak and work together to create an authentic and genuine prophetic Baptist voice in these complex times. They reaffirmed their commitment to traditional Baptist values, including sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and its implications for public and private morality. They specifically committed themselves to their obligations as Christians to promote peace with justice, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick and the marginalized, welcome the strangers among us, and promote religious liberty and respect for religious diversity.
They also agreed to plan for a convocation of Baptist people to celebrate these historic Baptist commitments and to explore other opportunities to work together as Christian partners.
For More Information Read Dr. Walter Shurden's speech here and article from Associated Baptist Press here
Absent from this meeting of Baptist leaders at the Carter Center were representatives from the North American Baptist Conference, Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, Baptist General Conference, and the Alliance of Baptists.
I HOPE that these Baptist bodies will be fully included in the future NORTH AMERICAN BAPTIST CONVOCATION.
Below I have included a few tidbits about each of the Baptist bodies mentioned above that were not represented last week.
North American Baptist Conference: This group of Baptists includes over 450 churches with over 75,000 members. NABC was founded in 1839 as an association of Churches sharing German ethnic heritage.
Seventh Day Baptist General Conference: These unique Baptists who observe the Sabbath on Saturday represent over 50,000 Baptists worldwide.
Baptist General Conference: The BGC is a national evangelical Baptist body with roots in Swedish Pietism. They represent over 860 Churches and 140,000 members in the United States. Interestingly, John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota is perhaps one of the most well known BGC ministers in the 21st century. While the BGC tends to be more conservative than other mentioned Baptist bodies, they have a deep commitment to religious liberty and the separation of church and state through the work of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
National Missionary Baptist Convention of America: The NMBCA is an African-American Baptist association that includes over 80,000 members. Mostly found in Texas and California, these Baptist have a long standing commitment to missions and religious liberty.
Alliance of Baptists: Without a doubt the most liberal breed of Baptists, the Alliance represents over 125 churches and is deeply committed to international missions with mission partners in Cuba, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, and Brazil.