Statement of the Union of Baptists in Latin America (UBLA):
The Issue between the Baptist World Alliance and the Southern Baptist Convention
We have learned with amazement that a study committee of the Executive Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has recommended that the latter is planning to take to its upcoming annual meeting a proposal to withdraw both its membership and financial contribution from the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) by October 2004. The recommendation alleges liberal tendencies in the BWA and states that the purpose is to have the SBC dedicate its efforts and funding to the purpose of creating a new worldwide organization of a conservative nature.
If we take into consideration the fact that the SBC is the largest National Baptist Organization among those affiliated with the BWA, and the major contributor to it, we then agree with the declaration of Dr. Denton Lotz, General Secretary of the BWA, in his response to the SBC. In paraphrasing Van A. Harvey, A Handbook of Theological Terms, Lotz pointed out that such a decision becomes a “schism in the Baptist World, and consequently, a sin against love.”
We consider ourselves as younger brothers of the SBC. Its International Mission Board (formerly the Foreign Mission Board) played a major role in the foundation, initial, and subsequent development of many of our National Baptist Conventions in Latin America. Now, in love we assertively declare to you that we have fullness of joy in being part of the BWA. The SBC was one of the mentors of its creation nearly a century ago; the SBC taught us to love and support the BWA. As the centennial of the BWA draws near, it continues to be a Christ-centered and Bible-centered organization. It offers a wonderful international forum and provides proper leadership for evangelistic/missionary efforts, for Biblical and Theological education, for addressing the crucial issues that our world faces today. It assures helpful fellowship, and brings together different people groups from around the world. At the same time, it shows itself to be a modern organization, willing to take on the challenges it will have to face until, as the Scriptures states, our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.
Consequently, we DECLARE unacceptable the allegation of liberalism made by the Committee. We take the liberty of pointing out to our older brothers that, not only are we unwilling - under any circumstances – to go along with their efforts to create a new, parallel organization to the BWA. But, furthermore, we categorically REJECT the possibility.
We DEPLORE the recommendation of this Committee, and we URGE strongly the Executive Committee and the assembly of the SBC to reject this recommendation outright, so that this great organization may remain as a member of the BWA and may continue SUPPORTING its funding.
We EXPRESS our full, unrestricted support to the BWA and to its leadership, and we REAFFIRM our intention to continue to pray for the BWA and to participate in its future activities.
We invite the National Baptist Organizations from Latin America and from the rest of the world to join us by taking a similar stance in support of the BWA.
Alberto Prokopchuk (Argentina) [UBLA general secretary]
Fausto Aguiar de Vasconcelos (Brasil) [ UBLA President]
Amparo de Medina (Colombia),
Paul Eustache (Venezuela)
Tomás Mackey (Argentina)
Raúl Scialabba (Argentina)
The Union of Baptists in Latin America (UBLA) is one of the Baptist World Alliance’s six regional bodies.
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