Baptist World Alliance, BWA News Release

The evolving understanding of ordination among Baptists

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The ordained ministry is rooted in the mission of the church as a corporate body, said Baptist World Alliance® (BWA) General Secretary Neville Callam. Ordained persons, Callam asserted, have no existence apart from their partnership with the general church membership under the lordship of Christ.

Callam made these declarations in a lecture he presented at the 38th Annual Assembly of the Baptist Convention of South Africa (BCSA) in December.

The BWA leader offered an interpretation of the understanding of ordination among Baptists, from the formative years of Baptist life in the Netherlands and England until the end of the 17th century and suggested that, since that period, Baptist understandings of ordination have continued to evolve.

He proposed that each Baptist convention and union work out clearly its own understanding of the meaning and purpose of ordination and to express these in their ordination rites. Callam said the contemporary situation seems to suggest the need for churches to introduce particular forms of ordained ministry to further the church’s faithfulness to God’s mission and to assist those who serve the church in a ministerial capacity.

The BCSA used the opportunity of the assembly to observe its 25th anniversary as an independent Baptist organization. The BCSA was once part of the Baptist Union of Southern Africa.

In addition to delivering the lecture, Callam preached at the assembly service in which persons were ordained to the ministry. He also met with several Baptist leaders, including Paul Msiza, former BCSA general secretary, a BWA vice president and chair of the Local Arrangements Committee for the Baptist World Congress that is to be held in South Africa in 2015; and Bongani Khumalo, chair of the BWA Constitution and Bylaws Committee.

Callam said “BCSA members are looking forward to welcoming the Baptist World Congress when it convenes in Durban, South Africa, in 2015.” He noted that one of the young ministers in the convention, Thembelani Jentile, will be among the main presenters at the 16th Baptist Youth World Conference in Singapore from July 17-21 this year.

Other guests at the BCSA assembly were Regina Class, general secretary of the Union of Evangelical Free Churches (Baptists) in Germany and a BWA vice president; David Goatley, secretary-treasurer of the Lott Carey Foreign Missionary Convention and chair of the BWA Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection Advisory Committee; and Charles Jones of American Baptist Churches USA and a member of the BWA Congress Committee.

Baptist World Alliance®
© January 9, 2013

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.