Posted 2/22/2018 at 11:00am.
Elijah Brown, a Texas native, assumed the position of General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) on January 1, 2018. In that position, he acts as CEO of the organization and is responsible for its administration and operations, and he serves as its chief representative to global organizations and institutions (church-related and secular) and to governments.
Brown is currently a member of Columbia Baptist Church, a BGAV congregation in Falls Church. He and his wife, Amy, live in northern Virginia with their three children, Hudson, Sahara, and Keziah.
The following statements are excerpts from articles Brown wrote in the January-March 2018 issue of Baptist World: A Magazine of the Baptist World Alliance*:
The BWA has such an outstanding history of service in many corners of the world. To be considered for this role was an overwhelming, humbling and deeply exciting opportunity. I’m grateful for the opportunity to partner with goodwill Baptists from around the world.
It is a position to which my wife, Amy, and I feel called. We feel the support and encouragement of many individuals, even when it feels that it is such a large task.
Attending the Centennial Baptist World Congress more than 12 years ago was a transformational experience in my spiritual journey. As those holding the flags of the nations moved into the Birmingham Convention Center in England, calling us to strengthen our witness to all peoples of the world, my wife, Amy, and I sat in the upper floor in tears and humbled silence. The entire congress was a powerful introduction to worldwide Baptist life: a vision of collaborative partnership seeking to advance a holistic gospel in the midst of different conventions and unions, challenging circumstances and changing global dynamics.
That introduction arrived at a vulnerable and transformative moment in my life. Though I had been primarily raised in a Baptist context and completed an undergraduate degree at a Baptist university in Texas, in the United States, as a young doctoral candidate living in post-Christian Edinburgh, Scotland, I was searching for a faith community. Attending my first BWA Congress was a re-centering moment that affirmed a personal ministry calling to justice and missional witness and breathed fresh spirit into my spiritual life and theological convictions. For the last 12 years, the BWA has been part of my spiritual grounding. Within the hectic schedules that seem to predominate BWA gatherings, there have been countless worship moments, sermons, prayers, committee work and rich discussions with the breadth and depth of a diverse and incredible Baptist family that have led me to repent, quietly recommit and humbly strive to live in light of the Holy Spirit’s leadership.
These last six months have been a further reminder of our interconnectedness. I feel the love of parents who shaped a calling to global mission; of mentors through the years who have challenged and affirmed; and the kinship of a global BWA family filled with gifts, passion and a longing for God’s kingdom. I feel our dependency upon the Lord and upon one another, and your undergirding prayers leading us to a strengthened tomorrow.
At a time when more people face famine and more people live as refugees than at any point since World War II, we have an opportunity to live into this family connectivity. With 35 million members of the BWA family living in contexts characterized by high to very high religious persecution, discrimination and marginalization, I anticipate with you that the BWA will continue to be a leading voice advancing human rights, religious freedom and justice.
I envision with you missional witness remaining a hallmark of BWA commitment matched with ongoing theological education and reflection. With some 1.5 billion people continuing to live in areas where they have less than a 50 percent chance of ever hearing the Gospel and where 30 percent of our BWA member bodies have no Baptist theological educational institution within their country, there is much we can continue to do together.
I join with you and all who have gone before in working to serve the Lord in witness through the BWA family. I believe in our ongoing ability to advance a kingdom focus, celebrate unity within diversity, network resources across partner conventions and institutions and provide ongoing opportunities for a public voice on issues of critical concern, especially in light of mission and justice. I believe the BWA remains a powerful platform proclaiming hope, peace, justice and whole-life discipleship in Jesus Christ.
*Excerpts reprinted with permission from the Baptist World Alliance.