Baptist World Alliance Approves Resolutions Affirming Women in Ministry and Advocating for Religious Freedom

(NASSAU, THE BAHAMAS – July 12, 2019) 

Women should be affirmed for their “God-given calling for service in the church” and Baptists should work to promote love rather than religious intolerance, according to two resolutions approved by the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) General Council in Nassau, The Bahamas, on Thursday, July 11.
A “Resolution on Recognizing and Affirming the Calling of Women in the Church” grew out of a three-day conference preceding the BWA’s Annual Gathering. The resolution acknowledged the 2019 Baptist International Conference on Theological Education (BICTE), which focused on the theme “TOGETHER: Re-Imagining, Re-Reading HERstory in the Church.”
The last BWA resolution affirming women’s contributions within the church had been adopted in Nassau in 1988. The current resolution recalled how the 1988 statement had called for Baptists to “celebrate the multiple gifts and sensitivities women bring to the service of Jesus Christ and the work of the Baptist family around the world” and to “commend Biblical and careful attention by our member bodies to the enabling of women and their gifts.”
The current resolution calls upon Baptists to “Repent from the teachings and practices” that “have prevented women from flourishing as human beings created in the image of God and full members of the body of Christ,” and to be open to the Holy Spirit’s power to provoke transformation so that Baptists might affirm “the God-given calling of women for service in the church.”
BWA members should also “learn and then use language that is affirming to both women and men in worship, communications, and publications, including Bible translations,” the resolution stated, and “work intentionally to create equal space for women in all leadership roles in the church, Baptist conventions and unions, and in the Baptist World Alliance.”
A second resolution was entitled “Resolution on Current Manifestations of Religious Intolerance and Religiously-Motivated Violence.”
The body expressed “deep concern over recent instances of religious intolerance and religiously- motivated violence” during the past year, citing representative examples of attacks on synagogues, mosques, and churches during the past year.
The resolution decries the rise of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and the persecution of Christians, citing a recent report commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which found that approximately 245 million Christians are endangered by high levels of persecution.
The resolution further recalled that 2019 marks the 85th anniversary of a historic resolution passed in 1934 at the 5th Baptist World Congress in Berlin, Germany. Against the background of rising fascism and meeting in a hall adorned with giant swastikas, Baptists courageously voted to oppose “anti-Semitism and all other forms of religious and racial prejudice.”
Deeper Baptist history was also recalled with a reminder that early Baptist Thomas Helwys appealed in 1612 that Jews, Christians, and Muslims should be allowed to worship in freedom and live together in peace.
“We stand in solidarity and sympathy with all people who suffer violence, injury and harm, regardless of religion, race, gender, culture or ethnicity,” the resolution stated, calling on Baptists to live in peace with everyone and so “reaffirm that prejudice, hate, and violence cannot defeat respect, love, and faith.”
Such actions, the resolution concluded, serve “as a prophetic response of God’s love against all manifestations of terrorism, violence, and religious intolerance.”
Contributed by Tony Cartledge