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had died during the past year were remembered for their lives and for
their contributions to the work of the BWA or their country’s convention
or union. The image of each person was shown as each name was called
and a one or two sentence bio on the life of each was read.
Among the more memorable and meaningful experiences were
the worship services. The sessions were blessed with rich music from
various cultures, speakers who made presentations drawn from their
own contexts, and a strong desire among the participants to bond with
each other through the Spirit. Translation of the services into nine
languages enabled meaningful participation by all.
Annual Gathering 2008 was signifi cant in the bonds that
were established, renewed and strengthened, a fi tting follow-
up to Accra, Ghana, and a precursor to the meetings in Ede
in the Netherlands, July 27 to August 1, 2009, where the
BWA will celebrate 400 years of Baptist witness and faith.

Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the Baptist World
Alliance, is to undergo profound changes in its operations.
The international agency, formed more than 80 years ago to
provide aid during World War I in Europe, will now become a “global
networking agency” that “coordinates Baptist responses to global
poverty by connecting Baptist aid and development agencies around
the globe.”
BWAid will also give support and training in sustainable community
development to the regional bodies of the BWA, and act as a broker
between those who develop projects and those who offer funding “to
ensure speedy and appropriate response.” It will, in addition, coordinate
disaster emergency response around the globe.
The decision to change the operations and focus of BWAid was
made during meetings in Prague in the Czech Republic during the
The shift in focus is a response to the changing realities facing aid
and development agencies generally, and behavior and expectations of
Baptists in particular. Several BWA regional fellowships, such as Europe
and Asia/Pacifi c, and member bodies such as Hungary and Australia,
have developed their own aid, emergency response, and development
agencies. Some Baptist churches and BWA member bodies, even though
they may not have formed an aid agency, are becoming more directly
involved in aid and relief funding.
A primary focus of BWAid will be poverty. The international
organization will “seek to educate and challenge our constituently to
live justly and promote change to address poverty.” Among other things,
it will “advocate for change in unjust structures,” recognizing that “the
solution to world poverty is not simply a matter of giving aid.”

Photo): Members of the Emerging Leaders Network at the Annual Gathering in Prague in July

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