FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA – April 8, 2020) In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) is launching Standing Together: A Global Response Plan. With confirmed cases now in 174 countries around the world, the BWA is mobilizing its global network to take action.
“A global pandemic requires a global response,” said Elijah Brown, BWA General Secretary. “The vision for Baptist World Aid originated 100 years ago in the wake of the Spanish plague and the aftermath of World War I, and as we mark this centennial milestone in 2020, the need for Baptists around the world to mobilize and respond is as great as ever.”
As part of the Standing Together Global Response Plan, the BWA has already reached out to all 240 Baptist conventions and unions to offer emergency grants in response to immediate needs arising from COVID-19. The BWA has set aside $250,000 USD for this initial effort and asks the global Baptist family to stand together in raising a matching amount of $250,000 to facilitate additional outreach.
“What makes the BWA so unique is that we are a network of Baptists from 125 countries and territories in equal partnership with one another,” said Julie Justus, Director of Global Partnerships and Unity. “By offering emergency grants during this time of global crisis to all 240 member bodies, we are standing together as a united family of 47 million BWA Baptists.”
Another facet of the Standing Together Global Response Plan is the development of a worldwide aid and relief response facilitated through the Baptist World Alliance Forum for Aid and Development (BFAD), a network of more than 30 international aid agencies.
“As a global pandemic, this is truly a time to stand together in all that we do. Collaborating together is essential, and BFAD is seeking to collectively assess how we can best reach those who are most vulnerable in this pandemic. Through this collaboration, we can work toward maximum impact,” said Rachel Conway-Doel, BFAD Facilitator. “I urge Baptists around the world to share information, ideas, and support with each other. With this, we can draw on our Baptist history of activism and commitment to grass roots work to reach the most vulnerable.”
To provide a centralized source for information sharing and collaboration opportunities, the BWA has created a COVID-19 microsite. Among the resources included are tools for remote worship, stories of how Baptists are responding internationally, and a prayer request form. The submissions will be prayed over by a team of global Baptist intercessors, one of the many ways the BWA is affirming a continued call to united prayer. In addition, the BWA organized a 24-hour prayer marathon last month that included participants from 44 nations – spanning many cultures, multiple generations, and numerous languages.
“One of the most impactful ways we can stand together at this time is through prayer,” said Merritt Johnston, BWA Director of Communications and Media and COVID-19 Prayer Coordinator. “Though we cannot be together physically, we are still one in spirit and one in mission. To that end, we will continue to seek ways to utilize technology for prayer mobilization and pastoral encouragement, including the introduction of virtual office hours during Holy Week.”
In addition, the BWA has launched a new partnership with 21Wilberforce to immediately enhance religious freedom monitoring and advocacy. Two anticipated religious freedom challenges stemming from COVID-19 include:
Denial of healthcare service to religious minorities due to their religion
Governments which might attempt to use understandable public health concerns to turn temporary closures of worship facilities into permanent closures that deny the opportunity for people of religious faith to gather for communal worship.
In response, the BWA is offering immediate, enhanced religious freedom monitoring and advocacy in all 125 countries and territories in which there is a BWA member body. Religious freedom violations can be reported through the COVID-19 microsite .
“In times like these, it is vital that we remain vigilant in our religious freedom and human rights monitoring,” said Randel Everett, President of 21Wilberforce. “We are committed to stand together with the marginalized and to advocate as needed around the world.”
“Hope rises when we stand together,” said Brown. “I invite you to join us in giving as generously as you can today, enabling us to be messengers of hope and agents of light in these dark times.”
Click here to make a gift to the Standing Together Global Response Fund today.
In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Baptist World Alliance has issued the “Standing Together” Global Response Plan.
To see a visual overview of the initial plan, click here.