FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(STAVANGER, NORWAY – July 6, 2023) Meeting in Stavanger, Norway, this week, the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) General Council unanimously approved eight new members, bringing total membership of the BWA to 253 Baptist organizations in 130 countries and territories.
While membership in the BWA has most often been convention and union-style groups, the General Council voted on July 3 to ratify constitutional changes expanding membership eligibility to all Baptist organizations that have their own governance structure and financial identity. Approved BWA members will now be known as “Member Partners.” These changes in membership structure followed a two-year deliberate review of BWA governance, including membership processes and categories.
“This new membership category recognizes the vital role played by a variety of Baptist groups and their important place in our global family,” said BWA General Secretary Elijah Brown. “The inclusion of more members in our worldwide network will strengthen our BWA mission as together we work ‘to impact the world for Christ.'”
Baptist groups from Niger and the Palestinian Territories are the first BWA Member Partners from their respective country and territory. The Union of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Niger comprises 4,014 members in 34 churches and the Council of Local Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land represents 500 members in 13 churches in the Palestinian Territories.
Two new members from Hyderabad, Telangana, increase the total number of BWA members in India to 24. The Association of Telugu Baptist Churches is a group of 34,400 members in 236 churches and the Telangana Baptist Convention is a body of 73,607 members in 534 churches. Both organizations are also newly approved members of their region and represent a new generation of leadership in the area.
In addition to these Baptist conventions and unions, four Baptist groups were accepted by the General Council as inaugural Member Partners in the categories of aid, education, and mission.
The Baptist Missionary Society Ltd, (BMS) based in Didcot, United Kingdom, joined as a Member Partner in the mission category. Founded in 1792, BMS works in 30 countries on four continents, and their mission is to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ to experience the abundant life that only he can provide.
The Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD), based in Mansourieh El Maten, Lebanon, is the BWA’s first Member Partner focused primarily on aid, relief, and community development. Founded in 1998, LSESD seeks to strengthen the witness of the Church in the Arab World through inclusive education, community development, and church discipleship.
Dallas Baptist University (DBU) in Dallas, Texas, USA, and Howard Payne University (HPU) in Brownwood, Texas, USA, are the first educational institution BWA Member Partners. DBU, founded in 1898, has more than 4,300 students and provides Christ-centered quality higher education in the arts, sciences, and professional studies. HPU, founded in 1889, has 1,000 students and seeks to be a “Christ-centered academic community dedicated to excellence by developing and equipping the whole person for intellectual inquiry, personal and professional integrity, and service to God and humanity.”
“We thank God for increasing our fellowship again. The Membership Committee is humbled to help shepherd these organizations officially into the BWA family,” said Karl Johnson, chair of the BWA Membership Committee and BWA First Vice President. “A home for all Baptists, their inclusion furthers the BWA’s presence around the world, and we pray for their work and witness in their countries and regions.”