Baptist World Alliance

The Baptist World Alliance is a voluntary association among Baptists in unions and conventions of churches. The preamble of its constitution reads: "The Baptist World Alliance, extending over every part of the world, exists as an expression of the essential oneness of Baptist people in the Lord Jesus Christ, to impart inspiration to the brotherhood, and to promote the spirit of fellowship, service and cooperation among its members; but this Alliance may in no way interfere with the independence of the churches or assume the administrative functions of existing organizations."

The first Baptist world congress was held in London in 1905. The BWA holds a world congress every five years. The BWA celebrated its centennial and 19th congress in Birmingham, England in July, 2005. An annual meeting of the general council governs the Alliance between congresses. The Baptist World Alliance is supported by its member conventions and unions, as well as local churches and individuals. The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest and more conservative Baptist group in the world, withdrew from the BWA in 2004 and does not participate in ecumenical organizations. Its 16 million adult members constitute the largest Protestant church in the USA. There are other Baptists who belong to churches which are not members of the Alliance. On the other hand, there are four African American Baptist conventions totalling about 15 million, three of which are members of the WCC and ecumenical participants.

The BWA has study commissions working on various concerns, themes and programmes. Religious freedom and human rights are great concerns of the BWA. The decade, 2000-2010, has been designated "Decade for Racial and Ethnic Harmony". The majority of African Americans is Baptist and has included outstanding leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. The BWA offices are in Falls Church, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, DC.

The BWA is organized in six regional fellowships: the All Africa Baptist Fellowship (AABF), the Asian Baptist Federation (ABF), the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship (CBF), the European Baptist Federation (EBF), the North American Baptist Fellowship (NABF), and the Union of Baptists in Latin America (UBLA).

The Baptist World Alliance has 211 member conventions/unions, with a total membership of 35 million baptized believers, representing a worshipping community of over 100 million Christians (Baptists do not count children as members). Twenty-five of the 211 member bodies are members of the WCC, which represents a total of 60 percent of the BWA constituency.

Periodical: Baptist World Magazine