Baptists in South Africa are making preparations to host thousands of Baptists from around the globe during the 21st Baptist World Congress in the city of Durban in July 2015.
“We want people to have the ubuntu experience,” said Paul Msiza, a vice president of the Baptist World Alliance® (BWA) and chair of the congress Local Arrangements Committee (LAC). Ubuntu is a distinctive South African word that speaks to African hospitality and respect for each other.
“We are intentional about making the congress a truly international gathering with an African flavor, declared Emmett Dunn, the BWA staff person who has special responsibility for meetings and conferences. “Bible study sessions will be multilingual. Bible study materials will be written from a world perspective and will be made available on the BWA website prior to the congress.”
Dunn said “we will plan the congress in such a way that those who attend will experience the city of Durban.” He encouraged African Baptists to “show real African hospitality to their international guests.”
The four BWA member organizations in the country – the Baptist Union of Southern Africa, the Baptist Convention of South Africa (BCSA), the Baptist Association of South Africa and the Baptist Mission of South Africa – have joined together to ensure that the next congress will be memorable for all the right reasons.
Msiza, who is the immediate past general secretary of the BCSA, told the BWA there are currently 16 subcommittees comprising a total of 90 persons from all four Baptist groups that are engaged in preparations for the event, which will be the first Baptist World Congress on the African continent. The LAC itself has 20 members from the four South African Baptist organizations.
There are committees for worship, prayer, music and mission as well as for accommodation, transportation, translation, promotions and marketing, medical and security, volunteers and technical matters.
The LAC is also in the process of forming another subcommittee in association with the convention bureau, a unit within the South African tourism board and the International Convention Centre Durban to look into technical needs on the ground.
“We are currently negotiating for housing with universities and home stays,” Msiza explained. “We are also working on visa issues especially on the behalf of countries for which South Africa has stringent rules for visa applications and immigration.”
Promotion of the congress begins in earnest on July 27 with a special breakfast in Durban and the official launch of the logo. Similar events will be held in other major South African cities such as Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg.
Msiza said Baptists attending the congress will have opportunities for mission and to go on tours before and after the event. Mission opportunities may include visits to orphanages, HIV/AIDS projects, evangelism and light construction work such as painting and repairs.
Tour packages may include the Robben Island prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years during the apartheid era; Soweto, a township that was the scene of many of the struggles against apartheid; the Zulu Kingdom; and Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in Africa.
Registration information for the Baptist World Congress, which will be from July 22-26, 2015, will become available as of November 1. The congress theme is “Jesus the Door.”
Baptist World Alliance®
© July 6, 2013