Baptist World Alliance Announces COVID-19 Response Plan

Baptist World Alliance Announces COVID-19 Response Plan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA – April 8, 2020)

In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) is launching Standing Together: A Global Response Plan. With confirmed cases now in 174 countries around the world, the BWA is mobilizing its global network to take action.

“A global pandemic requires a global response,” said Elijah Brown, BWA General Secretary. “The vision for Baptist World Aid originated 100 years ago in the wake of the Spanish plague and the aftermath of World War I, and as we mark this centennial milestone in 2020, the need for Baptists around the world to mobilize and respond is as great as ever.”

As part of the Standing Together Global Response Plan, the BWA has already reached out to all 240 Baptist conventions and unions to offer emergency grants in response to immediate needs arising from COVID-19. The BWA has set aside $250,000 USD for this initial effort and asks the global Baptist family to stand together in raising a matching amount of $250,000 to facilitate additional outreach.

“What makes the BWA so unique is that we are a network of Baptists from 125 countries and territories in equal partnership with one another,” said Julie Justus, Director of Global Partnerships and Unity. “By offering emergency grants during this time of global crisis to all 240 member bodies, we are standing together as a united family of 47 million BWA Baptists.”

Another facet of the Standing Together Global Response Plan is the development of a worldwide aid and relief response facilitated through the Baptist World Alliance Forum for Aid and Development (BFAD), a network of more than 30 international aid agencies.

“As a global pandemic, this is truly a time to stand together in all that we do. Collaborating together is essential, and BFAD is seeking to collectively assess how we can best reach those who are most vulnerable in this pandemic. Through this collaboration, we can work toward maximum impact,” said Rachel Conway-Doel, BFAD Facilitator. “I urge Baptists around the world to share information, ideas, and support with each other. With this, we can draw on our Baptist history of activism and commitment to grass roots work to reach the most vulnerable.”

To provide a centralized source for information sharing and collaboration opportunities, the BWA has created a COVID-19 microsite. Among the resources included are tools for remote worship, stories of how Baptists are responding internationally, and a prayer request form. The submissions will be prayed over by a team of global Baptist intercessors, one of the many ways the BWA is affirming a continued call to united prayer. In addition, the BWA organized a 24-hour prayer marathon last month that included participants from 44 nations – spanning many cultures, multiple generations, and numerous languages.

“One of the most impactful ways we can stand together at this time is through prayer,” said Merritt Johnston, BWA Director of Communications and Media and COVID-19 Prayer Coordinator. “Though we cannot be together physically, we are still one in spirit and one in mission. To that end, we will continue to seek ways to utilize technology for prayer mobilization and pastoral encouragement, including the introduction of virtual office hours during Holy Week.”

In addition, the BWA has launched a new partnership with 21Wilberforce to immediately enhance religious freedom monitoring and advocacy. Two anticipated religious freedom challenges stemming from COVID-19 include:

Denial of healthcare service to religious minorities due to their religion
Governments which might attempt to use understandable public health concerns to turn temporary closures of worship facilities into permanent closures that deny the opportunity for people of religious faith to gather for communal worship.

In response, the BWA is offering immediate, enhanced religious freedom monitoring and advocacy in all 125 countries and territories in which there is a BWA member body. Religious freedom violations can be reported through the COVID-19 microsite .

“In times like these, it is vital that we remain vigilant in our religious freedom and human rights monitoring,” said Randel Everett, President of 21Wilberforce. “We are committed to stand together with the marginalized and to advocate as needed around the world.”

As the impact of COVID-19 evolves, the Baptist World Alliance is poised to respond and invites Baptists around the world to stand together in praying, giving, learning, and serving.

“Hope rises when we stand together,” said Brown. “I invite you to join us in giving as generously as you can today, enabling us to be messengers of hope and agents of light in these dark times.”

Click here to make a gift to the Standing Together Global Response Fund today.

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Click to watch a special video update from BWA General Secretary Elijah Brown announcing the launch of the Standing Together Global Response Plan.

 

STANDING TOGETHER

In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Baptist World Alliance has issued the “Standing Together” Global Response Plan.

To see a visual overview of the initial plan, click here.


Honoring the Life and Legacy of Long-time Baptist World Aid Director Paul Montacute

Honoring the Life and Legacy of Long-time Baptist World Aid Director Paul Montacute

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA – February 24, 2020)

Paul Montacute, 22-year veteran staff member of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) passed away Thursday, February 20, at the age of 73. The Baptist World Alliance calls upon Baptists around the world to remember and honor his legacy and to pray for his family.

“I am deeply grateful for the partnership Paul immediately offered when I first started attending BWA meetings 15 years ago. Since then he and his wife Judith have been consistent encouragers,” said Elijah Brown, BWA General Secretary. “As I visited with Judith last week, she noted how much the prayers from friends around the world meant to her and the family during this time. The Baptist world has lost a true champion of the faith.”

Montacute’s legacy of ministry and global leadership includes many faithful years investing in the next generation, including time serving as a national youth officer with the Baptist Union of Great Britain in the 1980s and as Director of the Baptist World Alliance Youth Department from 1990-1993.

“As chairman of the BWA Youth Committee, Paul led the team that planned the landmark BWA Glasgow Youth Conference in 1988,” said David Coffey, BWA President (2005-2010) and former General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. “It was a groundbreaking event which in many ways shaped BWA Congress Gatherings in the years that followed.”

As he transitioned to leadership of Baptist World Aid in 1993, he continued to faithfully mentor young leaders, including Bela Szilagyi, who currently serves as Vice President of Hungarian Baptist Aid.

“Paul was the first one to believe in Hungarian Baptist Aid and in our God-given dreams a quarter of a century ago. He believed God can work through a then small team from Central Eastern Europe to make a difference in the world when partnering with the wisdom and experience of Baptist World Alliance and its leaders,” said Szilagyi. “Paul not only gave space to implement innovative ideas, but through his mature wisdom, made sure that hundreds of thousands were and are helped with dignity in meaningful ways. Paul has not only been a spiritual and professional mentor who shared his knowledge and love for ‘the least of these,’ but he was a man of God who also allowed me to see his personal life. This enabled me to grow as a husband, father and follower of Christ.”

His leadership of Baptist World Aid was fueled by his unrelenting, Christ-like compassion. This was witnessed firsthand by the many whose lives he touched around the globe but also by the staff who served alongside him.

“Paul was one of the most compassionate people I have ever known. His active concern and advocacy for those in our Baptist family whose lives were torn apart by human or man-made disaster was what he knew God had called him to do and he never relented in that call,” said Wendy Ryan, former BWA Director of Communications who served with Paul from 1990-2005.

“He was a stickler for detail and process, but that was to ensure that funds entrusted to the BWA for Aid were given out without favor and properly accounted for as part of the stewardship he exercised for Baptists around the world. I traveled with him to many remote parts of the world and saw him serve Baptists in need with grace and love. The BWA could not have chosen a more suitable person to lead Baptist World Aid.”

Tony Cupit, who served as a BWA Director from 1991-2005, also affirmed the strong administrative skills that Montacute brought to the team, which were invaluable to the effectiveness of the entire BWA team.

“Paul Montacute brought a lot of wisdom, energy and personal character to the life and ministry of the BWA over more than two decades. He was a quiet man with a big heart,” said Cupit. “He brought the discipline and detail of a British public servant to our leadership team, a great complement to pastors like Denton Lotz and me. We needed the thorough analytical skills and practical commonsense that were among Paul’s strengths. He was a good servant of Jesus Christ. We will all miss him. His legacy will be remembered and appreciated both for who he was and what he accomplished.”

In recognition of his impactful ministry, Montacute was named EthicsDaily.com’s Baptist of the Year in 2005. In outlining the reason behind his selection, Robert Parham wrote about his experience traveling with him to Sri Lanka and witnessing his work with the United Nations: “I observed the breadth of his network and the depth of trust that global Baptists have in him. Baptists have for too long focused only on hunger relief work and ignored social reform, but Paul combines the two, cleaving to the biblical mandate to feed the hungry and pursue justice for the poor and dispossessed. He exemplifies what it means to be a Good Samaritan and a prophet like Micah.”

Montacute’s ministry represents the best of global Baptist leadership with a faithful love for the nations, an abiding commitment to excellence and integrity, and a legacy of longevity in living out his call.

“If anyone merited the title ‘Global Ambassador,’ it was Paul Montacute. He was a prodigious global traveler in all the continents, tireless in his advocacy for the neediest members of the Baptist family. His eyewitness accounts from disaster areas challenged member bodies to give generously to Baptist World Aid and his reports from restricted countries like North Korea addressed critical issues of human rights and religious liberty,” said Coffey. “I give thanks to God for my friend ‘Monty’ who in every respect was a big man. Paul personally fulfilled the Great Commission of taking the Gospel to all nations and is now with the Lord he served so faithfully.”

Rev. Montacute is survived by his loving wife of 47 years, Judith; their two sons Pete and Tim; his two grandchildren, Kailyn and Beckham; his elder brother John and his younger sister Ruth. A celebration of life has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 3, at 11 a.m. at:
Vienna Baptist Church
541 Marshall Road SW
Vienna, VA 22180 USA

Those wishing to share a tribute are invited to do so by visiting: http://bit.ly/Honoring-Paul. In lieu of flowers, donations to Baptist World Aid may be made in Rev. Montacute’s name at bwanet.org/give.

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Rev. Paul Montacute, long-time Director of Baptist World Aid, passed away Thursday, February 20, 2020, at the age of 73.