On July 10-15, Samford University hosted Baptists from around the world for the 2022 Baptist World Alliance Annual Gathering. The meeting was a strategic time for Baptists worldwide to gather for prayer, fellowship and learning. This year’s event included a focus on racial justice and the work of the BWA Racial Justice Action Group. In addition to racial justice-focused plenaries, attendees had the opportunity to engage in Bible studies, regional ministry updates and small group reflections. A session that discussed the global Baptist response to the war in Ukraine was also held during the week.
Members of the Samford community from across campus assisted with the meeting. Attendees stayed on campus and Dining Services provided meals. Other faculty and staff hosted sessions and helped organize the events.
"We were pleased to have partnered with the Baptist World Alliance as we hosted the 2022 BWA Annual Gathering and to have shared this community we love with the global Baptist family," said Samford President Beck A. Taylor. "Here in the beauty of this place, we believe participants were encouraged and equipped by the opportunity to learn, grow and connect where so many have throughout our history."
Samford’s President Emeritus Andrew Westmoreland joined Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and Allan Boesak, a prominent South African leader and anti-apartheid activist, as the panelists for the Racial Justice in the Public Square forum on July 12. The three discussed how churches and believers can partner with community and national leaders to meaningfully pursue racial justice together. The forum focused on the topics of education, community and civic engagement, and national engagement.
Current and former faculty and staff from Beeson Divinity School helped host and plan gatherings and led sessions. Timothy George, distinguished professor and former dean of Beeson Divinity School, presented on “The Travail of Religious Freedom” to 21 Wilberforce, a religious liberty advocacy group affiliated with the BWA. Stefana Dan Laing, associate professor of divinity, serves on the BWA’s Commission on Baptist Heritage and offered a devotional on Ruth 2 called "Doing Justice and Loving hesed: Creating Flourishing Freedom" during one of the commission’s sessions. She also helped facilitate a group visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and 16th Street Baptist Church, which were led by Beeson alumna Melody Maxwell.
The Center for Women in Ministry, directed by Kristen Padilla, co-sponsored with the BWA and others the Community-Wide Reception for Baptist Women on July 10. The purpose of the event was to provide a meaningful time of fellowship and prayer for the female attendees and to discuss how God is at work through women living on mission around the world. It also allowed the attendees to hear updates on the crises in Myanmar and Ukraine in addition to the opportunity to connect with BWA Women's seven continental union presidents.
For more information about the Baptist World Alliance, go to its website at baptistworld.org.