Baptist leaders and delegates met on the island of Antigua for the Mid Term Assembly of the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship (CBF) despite the passage of Tropical Storm Isaac over the island.
Winds caused by the storm grew in strength over Antigua from in the early evening of August 22, the day of the start of the assembly. The VC Bird International Airport in the capital St. Johns closed in the afternoon, causing delays in the arrival of a number of assembly participants as well as cancellations as the storm wends its way through the Caribbean Sea, passing near to, or over, several Caribbean islands.
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Winston Baldwin Spencer, who brought greetings at the opening session, made a tongue in cheek reference to the passage of the tropical storm when he declared, “when the Lord is in the vessel, you can smile at the storm.”
Spencer, who has led the islands since 2004, encouraged Baptists from around the region “to pray for individuals like myself,” people in political leadership and public life, even while the church spurns partisanship. “The church should pray for leaders for God to provide [them with] vision and wisdom,” the prime minister admonished the gathering.
Making reference to the biblical quote that “Man shall not live by bread alone,” Spencer declared “that while there should be the dominance of spirituality and developing relationships with Almighty God,” said the biblical reference “suggests to me that man does live by bread.” He said the church has a secondary role to ensure “mankind lives in the best possible situation as they prepare for the second coming of Christ. This is an extension of what Christ expects the church to do.”
CBF President William Thompson, keynote speaker at the opening session, commended the prime minister for his request for prayer for himself and other political leaders. Thompson, while admitting that Christians face challenges, assured the gathering that “God has committed to sort out the mess in our lives” as God through Paul promises that “all things work together for good to them that love the Lord.” Not all things are good, he explained, because there are maladies such as hunger, hatred and persecution to contend with, but all things will work for good.
Mark Azille, president of the Antigua Baptist Association, declared the meetings historic as it was the first Baptists on the island were hosting a regional meeting. He expressed gratitude to the CBF, one of six regional fellowships of the Baptist World Alliance® (BWA), for the role the CBF played in helping to bring Baptists on the island together. Everton Jackson, CBF Executive Secretary/Treasury and BWA regional secretary for the Caribbean, visited Antigua in November 2010 to discuss the resuscitation of the association and its reconnection to both the CBF and the BWA.
Thompson and Jackson celebrated achievements of Caribbean athletes at the recently concluded Olympic Summer Games in London. Usain Bolt and Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, Kirani James of Grenada, Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago, the Jamaica men’s 4×100 meter relay team and the Bahamas men’s 4×400 relay team – all gold medal winners – came in for special mention. The region, it was noted, won a total of 18 medals during the Summer Olympics.
The CBF Mid Term Assembly is held roughly at the halfway point between general assemblies, which are normally held every five years. The last general assembly was held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in 2010.
Baptist World Alliance®
© August 23, 2012