Baptist World Alliance, BWA News Release

Latin American Baptists challenged to exercise holistic ministries

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Baptist World Alliance (BWA) General Secretary Neville Callam called on Baptists in Latin America to exercise holistic ministry within their communities and countries.

Addressing the Union of Baptists in Latin America (UBLA) congress that was held in Asuncion, Paraguay, in April, Callam explained that focusing on meeting people’s social needs should not be understood as a distraction from the church’s evangelistic ministry.

The BWA leader urged delegates and participants to appreciate the transformational effects of Gospel proclamation, noting that it has both personal and social dimensions. Callam emphasized that while Jesus transforms individuals, Christ also transforms structures that perpetuate injustice in society.

BWA Director of Freedom and Justice, Raimundo Barreto, challenged delegates and participants at the congress to respond to the divine mandate to love and to practice justice, and to give witness to God’s love through actions in the wider community. He asserted that the principle of separation of church and state can no longer justify a separation of church and society.

Barreto reminded Baptists in Latin America that there are important themes in the area of freedom and justice that have been overlooked by governments and civil authorities in Latin America. He urged Latin American churches to raise their prophetic voices to remind those authorities that there is a God who loves justice and demands just relationships among human beings.

Fausto Vasconcelos, director of the BWA Division of Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection (METR), also attended and reflected on the BWA historical commitment to evangelism, informing the gathering of the Jesus Christ, Bread of Life strategy, the current evangelism training program of the BWA. Vasconcelos called upon Latin American Baptists to integrate the motto and the concepts of “Jesus Christ, Bread of Life” into their ongoing programs of evangelism.

Subsequent to Vasconcelos’ presentation, the Home Mission Board of the Brazilian Baptist Convention, which is currently leading Brazilian Baptists in a nationwide prayer effort known as “100 Days of Prayer to Impact Brazil,” approached the METR Director about the possibility of a similar effort focused on the “Bread of Life” strategy in Brazil for 2013.

At an assembly convened immediately after the congress, UBLA elected José Parrish Jácome Hernandez from Ecuador as its new general secretary.  The new leader for Latin American Baptists has had a long association with UBLA, and was vice president before being chosen as UBLA’s general secretary. He was president of the Ecuadorian Baptist Convention for five years, from 1997-2002, and has served as dean of the Ecuador Baptist Theological Seminary. He is senior pastor, along with his wife Toyi, of Israel Baptist Church since 2004, after having served other congregations in Ecuador.

He holds a doctoral degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, in the United States, a master’s degree from the South American Seminary in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and a degree in economics from the University of Guayaquil.

He succeeds Alberto Prokopchuk of Argentina, who did not seek re-election to the position. The congress made expressions of thanks to Prokopchuk, who was UBLA general secretary and BWA regional secretary for Latin America for 11 years.

Ivan Martinez of Venezuela was re-elected to another term as UBLA president.

Hundreds of Latin American Baptists attended the congress of UBLA that was held in Asuncion, Paraguay, while leaders of conventions, unions, and other delegates participated in the assembly that held elections along with other decision meetings. The meetings ran from April 19-21 at the Conmebol Convention Center.

© Baptist World Alliance
May 9, 2012

The Baptist World Alliance, founded in 1905, is a fellowship of 253 conventions and unions in 130 countries and territories comprising 51 million baptized believers in 176,000 churches. For more than 100 years, the Baptist World Alliance has networked the Baptist family to impact the world for Christ with a commitment to strengthen worship, fellowship and unity; lead in mission and evangelism; respond to people in need through aid, relief, and community development; defend religious freedom, human rights, and justice; and advance theological reflection and leadership development.