FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA – July 24, 2020) The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) is transitioning the 22nd Baptist World Congress to a fully virtual event on July 7-10, 2021. This decision was made in prayerful response to the COVID-19 global pandemic and as a result of collaborative discussions with global Baptist leaders.
The Baptist World Congress is a quinquennial event originally scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July 2020. The event was postponed in March 2020 due to rising coronavirus cases and upon review of travel and health advisories nationally and globally. With the pandemic still impacting so many communities worldwide, the BWA Executive Committee voted to transition to a virtual event during their executive session in October.
Leadership affirmed it to be the best decision in light of health and safety concerns for registrants, international travel restrictions, and the importance of offering a Congress experience that reflects diversity and prioritizes accessibility for as many people as possible. With the transition to a virtual experience, the 22nd Baptist World Congress will become the first fully-online, globally-accessible event in the ministry’s 115-year history.
“2020 has been a year of unexpected challenges, but it has also been a year of innovation. The physical doors of many churches remain closed, but praise God that new spiritual doors have opened to live out our Gospel-centered mission through the use of technology,” said Elijah Brown, BWA General Secretary. “We saw this firsthand when thousands from our global Baptist family gathered online for worship, prayer, and engagement at Pentecost. Now I am eagerly awaiting what the Lord has in store as we host a Congress for the 21st Century. Open to Baptists worldwide, this multilingual, multinational event will unite us together in Jesus Christ and his gospel mission.”
Centered on the theme “Together,” the 22nd Baptist World Congress will include:
- Daily sessions with worship, fellowship, prayer, and spiritual challenge led by global Baptist leaders
- 30+ Breakouts with recognized ministry experts featuring live Q&A
- Virtual roundtables focused on worship, mission, aid, religious freedom, and transformational leadership
- An easy-access virtual platform with the ability to facilitate networking and community building by region and/or ministry focus
- 3 powerful pre-conferences including the “Life” Global Conference of Baptist Women, Youth Leadership Conference, and the “Together with the Persecuted” Religious Freedom Summit
- Multilingual opportunities for engagement
- A powerful opportunity for Baptists worldwide to stand together at this critical time across borders, languages, and ethnicities
The BWA staff and global Congress leadership are committed to offering a virtual event that builds upon the years of strong planning already invested, ensuring that returning attendees and newcomers alike experience the meaningfulness of this gathering.
“After this unprecedented season of physical isolation, we need the encouragement of our Baptist sisters and brothers more than ever,” said Carolina Mangieri, BWA Director of Global Events and Fellowship. “I am prayerful that this transition will enable more people than ever before to experience the beautiful unity amidst diversity of our global Baptist family.”
Since the first Baptist World Congress gathering in 1905, the event has had a long-standing impact on its attendees and the world, and Congress leaders prayerfully anticipate that the new platform will only serve to further the event’s unchanging purpose – networking the Baptist family to impact the world for Christ.
“This virtual opportunity to gather will allow us to seek the wisdom and strength of the Lord during such a special time in the world,” said BWA President Tomás Mackey. “Together we will share the experiences that have enriched us in so many different communities, and thereby strengthen our hope. We will be sensitive to the pains of peoples and individuals, interceding for one another, and plan for ministry that will help in these circumstances. I invite all Baptists to unite together with brothers and sisters around the world to celebrate the Lord’s work among us.”
With more than 1,000 people already registered from over 40 countries, the 22nd Baptist World Congress is poised to become a milestone in this pivotal time in history. “I look forward to July 2021 and invite all Baptists to join in what may well be the most globally diverse gathering of Baptists in 400 years,” said Brown.
Additional questions are answered in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document available on our new virtual Congress website as is ongoing registration: BWA2021.org.