Global Baptists Support Londoners/Condemn Attacks!
We must oppose violence wherever it is found!
Worldwide Baptists Express Support and Condemn Terrorist Violence in England
An outpouring of support for victims of the terrorist attacks in England and concern that violence against innocent people continues, has come in from around the world to the Baptist World Alliance. With it has also come the confidence that the Baptist World Congress scheduled for Birmingham, England, July 27-31, 2005 must continue.
On behalf of the worldwide family, Denton Lotz, General Secretary of the BWA, expressed the sorrow of Baptists and the hope to which the Congress will testify. In a letter to the British Ambassador in North America, Sir David Manning, also sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair and David Coffey, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB) and incoming President of the BWA, he expressed sympathy and condolences to the British people for “the horrific and evil attack upon innocent men and women in London.”
Lotz said, “It is particularly sad when such tragedies are done in the name of religion,” and he pointed out that “Baptist people have defended religious freedom throughout our long history.” Baptists are concerned that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and everyone else have the right to practice their religion freely.
“It is to the British Baptists,” Lotz said, “such as Thomas Helwys, John Smyth, John Bunyan and John Milton that we have looked for that strong defense of religious freedom since 1612. We shall continue to defend religious freedom, separation of church and state, and respect for men and women of whatever faith tradition.”
Billy Kim, Seoul, Korea, President of the Baptist World Alliance, said, “We are praying for the British people during this time of sorrow. I have asked my people to pray for both those who are injured and the families who have lost loved ones. We are confident that the Congress will continue to be blessed by God.”Turning to the Congress, Lotz said that thousands of Baptists will gather to celebrate the BWA Centenary in Birmingham “to affirm our faith and to encourage all people to follow the example of Him who walked the shores of Galilee and preached peace.”
Lotz emphasized Baptists will go to England “to show our solidarity with the British people in their time of sorrow. Our very travel to Britain from every corner of the earth will be a testimony to our belief that faith is greater than fear, hope greater than despair, and love greater than hate,” Lotz said.
Already more than 11,500 from 107 countries are registered for the Congress and that number is expected to swell with people who will come on day passes.
“In Birmingham men and women of various languages and cultures will celebrate that it is possible for religious traditions to live together in harmony,” Lotz says.
In a statement released yesterday, July 7, Coffey said: “The events that that took place in London today fill us with horror, and our prayers go out to the bereaved and the injured, together with all those who are seeking to offer help and comfort, including the emergency services, security forces and chaplains. In a world of violence, where there is too little respect for life, we want to stand alongside all those who are the victims of such brutality, sharing their pain and anger, and embracing them with compassion.”
Coffey continued: “This is a time when we are called to answer the evil of violence with an unswerving commitment to the ways that make for peace and justice,” he said. “We join in Christian hope with all who seek the common good at this critical time.”
Regina Claas, General Secretary of the Union of Evangelical Free Churches in Germany, told British Baptist leaders that German Baptists are deeply moved by the news of the catastrophe. “It is just unbelievable for us how people can do such a cruel thing,” Claas said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with you and especially with our sisters and brothers in London at this time,” Claas wrote.
On behalf of the Central Youth Committee from the Bangladesh Baptist Church Sangha, leaders wrote that the terrorists had caused death, injuries, destruction not only in the United Kingdom but in the whole world. “It is not an attack on the UK people,” they wrote, “but to the human civilization. We are always against such terrorism and intolerance among the different faiths, which happens very frequently against us in our daily life.”
Baptist leaders in Nepal, which continues to suffer from political instability, pledged to pray for “peace and normality” in the United Kingdom so that the BWA Centenary Congress will go on smoothly. “We are also praying for the families who have lost their loved ones,” wrote Yukta Man Gurung, General Secretary of the Nepal Baptist Church Council. Tony Peck, General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation, expressed shock and sadness on behalf of European Baptists. He recalls as a student in London in the 1970s the bombing campaigns of the Irish Republican Army and the fear which they struck into everyone moving around the city.
“We must continue to demonstrate that the terrorists who seek to change the world by bombing and killing will be defeated by those who stand up for truth and justice in the world using peaceful means of argument and protest,” Peck said.
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