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Thursday, March 20, 2008

The New Baptist Covenant Followup Meeting

Statement on March 12 New Baptist Covenant Followup Meeting

About 70 Baptists assembled at The Carter Center on March 12 to assess the hundreds of comments and suggestions that poured in following the New Baptist Covenant assembly in Atlanta. Almost of all of the participants represented conventions, associations, universities, or other organizations. They divided into 10 groups to discuss issues related to evangelism and nine other subjects.

After sharing their reports, there was a more general forum that addressed the long term status of the New Baptist Covenant. An earlier decision was reconfirmed that we would not form a separate official organization, but would continue to build upon the excitement and inspiration that was shared by more than 15,000 of us who attended the Atlanta assembly, and work harmoniously with other Baptists. There was a consensus that we would reconvene the New Baptist Covenant in 2011, in the historic Baptist pattern of triennial meetings. We will be as active as possible during the intervening years. To allow for more diversity, including women and young people, our original steering committee will be expanded from five to about a dozen members.

The possibility of convening at least five regional meetings in the next year as we expand participation in the New Baptist Covenant was explored, including special efforts to encourage participation among young people. Other local New Baptist Covenant gatherings are encouraged.

Expert counseling will be sought concerning how we can assist actively in such major social issues as global warming, health care, poverty, criminal justice, human rights, religious liberty, elimination of nuclear weapons, and peace in the Middle East and elsewhere. Representatives of other Baptist organizations that deploy domestic and foreign missionaries also will be invited for advice on expanded personal participation by individuals, church congregations, and with financial contributions.

In addition to suggestions for our group as a whole, an extensive list of specific recommendations is included below and published on our Website, www.NewBaptistCovenant.org, for church congregations and individual Baptists who desire to expand their Christian ministry by reaching out in their own immediate neighborhoods to other ethnic congregations ministering, in Jesus’ name, to the “poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the blind, and those who are bruised.”

POSSIBLE ACTIONS, PROJECTS

Over the ensuing weeks following the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant, hundreds of suggestions and ideas for future action have been generated through feedback from participants. Additional ideas and suggestions were generated during the March 12 follow-up meeting of more than 70 Baptist leaders at the Carter Center.

A sampling of that feedback has been organized into broad categories and is presented here for consideration by individuals, churches and Baptist organizations that have participated in the New Baptist Covenant.

1. Evangelism

  • The preeminent commitment of the New Baptist Covenant should always be winning souls to Christ – by word and example – locally and globally. This evangelistic effort should be persistent and well coordinated.

  • Be especially generous, individually and as congregations, in enhancing and supporting the ongoing mission work of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, African-American conventions, & other Baptist groups

  • Seek domestic and foreign mission projects suitable for individuals, such as providing health and dental care, immunizing the poor, building churches, and giving requested aid to missionary families.

2. Criminal justice

  • Enhance prisoner rehabilitation and work to reduce America’s extraordinary prison population – mostly poor, mentally ill, and minorities.

  • Individuals and local congregations make regular visits to local prisons. Work with probationers and newly released prisoners, get to know their families, help with employment.

  • For some: oppose the death penalty, based on alternative sentences of life without parole and restitution. For others: help guarantee that no more innocent people are executed.

3. Poverty

  • Promote/support Baptist World Aid, CARE, and other groups that alleviate suffering from poverty.

  • Promote tax policies that help the poor and working class, and support a minimum wage level so that the salary of one fulltime worker raises the family above the poverty level.

  • Personally and as a congregation, visit neighborhood persons who are homeless, ill, or extremely poor. Every church should have a fund and an organized schedule for this purpose.

  • Each person volunteer one week per year to Habitat for Humanity or other similar organization that serves the poor.

  • Join together to clean up neighborhoods, work at shelters, repair homes, clear vacant lots for garden plots, etc.

4. Other faiths

  • Support international efforts for reconciliation among Christians and other major religions.

  • Locally, reach out to nearby congregations of different ethnic character. Cooperate as “sister churches” with joint worship services, exchanging pastors, combining choirs, etc.

5. Youth

  • Encourage formation of New Baptist Covenant organizations among young people, within churches and in nearby colleges and seminaries.

  • Encourage young Christians to participate in making church decisions.

7. Peacemaking

  • Study and follow Biblical principles of resolving disputes among local people.

8. Discrimination

  • Promote compliance with the Universal Declaration of human rights and provisions of the Geneva Convention. Condemn torture & support closing of Guantanamo prison. Combat all forms of human slavery. Publicly support oppressed people, i.e., Darfur, Burma, Palestine.

  • Protect and minister to the “strangers among you,” especially illegal & legal immigrants, both in local communities and in public policy.

  • Espouse full equality for women, who suffer almost universal discrimination, often supported by religious organizations.

  • Protect civil rights of gays and lesbians.

  • Break down barriers of race in all walks of life. Personally and as congregations, find ways to reach out to other ethnic groups.

9. Faith, Public policy

  • Work toward eliminating abortions; nurture pregnant mothers and babies.

  • Condemn filth and racism in public media.

10. Religious liberty, Church and state

  • Restore and strengthen the wall between church and state.

  • Support the work of the Baptist Joint Committee in promoting religious liberty.

  • Report all cases of abused Christians in other nations, and help protect them.

11. Environment, Global warming

  • Protect the environment, & support Al Gore’s climate change crusade, joining the New Baptist Covenant’s public endorsement of the Kyoto or Bali treaties and encouragement of the U.S. government to approve.

  • In homes and churches, take steps to save energy, shift to renewable sources, use recycle bins, and promote environmental quality. Churches become partners with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star Program.

12. Suggestions for Enhancing NBC effectiveness

  • Refrain from forming an official organization or convention. Never derogate other Christians, and continue reaching out to all other Baptists in a spirit of unity and love.

  • Widely publicize our statement of purpose, general goals, and specific commitments adopted at 3/12 meeting, and subsequently issue regular reports of progress. Continue seeking new ideas.

  • Utilize existing periodicals to promote our information and ideas, (such as Mainstream Baptists, Baptist World Alliance, the North American Baptist Fellowship, the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty, Baptists Today, the Ministers & Missionaries Benefit Board, Baptist publishing houses and historical societies, Baptist colleges and seminaries, and Associated Baptist Press.)

  • Maintain a high quality and current Website and encourage Internet communication among our supporters.

  • Encourage local and regional NBC meetings.

  • Provide a list of churches that include supporters of the New Baptist Covenant.

  • Utilize specialists at seminaries to guide individual programs/projects adopted by NBC.

Labels:

5 Comments:

Blogger Tony said...

Here's a resource relating to evangelism for Baptist churches:

Baptist Church Website Design.

It is a self-assessment tool enabling churches to make sites that can reach outsiders.

blessings

Tony

6:02 AM

 
Anonymous Jeremy said...

Oh great...another meeting for heretic liberals to get together and have fluffy duffy words for each other at a conference that teaches that the Bible is not true...or, at least that's what I've heard.

Just kidding - thanks for the info. I'm already looking forward to 2011.

9:34 AM

 
Blogger Bart Barber said...

Aaron,

Although I might tend to agree more with the first paragraph of Jeremy's comment than the last, I do wish you and the other NCB folks well to the degree that you aren't shooting at me and are doing the work of Christ. Don't put me on your mailing list, though.

6:49 PM

 
Blogger Dan Trabue said...

On the peacemaking portion, I'm wondering why it was phrased thusly?

Study and follow Biblical principles of resolving disputes among local people.

Why limit it to resolving disputes among local people? Is that intended to say that they don't think they'd have a role in working for peace at a more global level? If so, why?

7:44 AM

 
Blogger Cat's Dad said...

Should I really express faith in another savior--Al Gore?

Me thinks not.

3:27 PM

 

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