Baptist World Alliance
Heritage & Identity Commission
Introducing the Heritage & Identity Commission
Chair: Rev Dr Brian Talbot
Vice-Chair: Dr Karen Bullock
The Commission on Baptist Heritage and Identity of the BWA is one of seven commissions under the BWA Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection Ministry (METR) that meet annually, each year in a different part of the world, in conjunction with the meetings of the BWA's General Council.
At its first meeting, in Singapore in 1986, members of the commission stated its purpose as: to investigate and promote the meaning of Baptist heritage and identity
The Commission on Baptist Heritage and Identity seeks to clarify issues pertaining to the heritage and identity of the Baptist family with a view to furthering the local congregation's understanding of its place and calling in the world and also in the worldwide Baptist movement. The Commission records the story of God's dealings among Baptists around the world and produces materials suitable for use by Baptists and by others who are interested in understanding Baptist Identity. (BWA Committee and Commission Handbook, 2010)
Members have explored the Baptist heritage in higher education, evangelism, justice and peace, spirituality and worship, the role of women. Another series of studies has focused on Baptist origins and the lives of some Baptist leaders. In 1987, the Commission produced a statement defining Baptist identity. The Heritage and Identity Commission contributed the opening chapter, "Baptists: a Global Community of Faith" to the book-length We Baptists (Providence House: Franklin, Tennessee, 1999) a project of the Study and Research Division of the BWA. Members of the Commission were deeply involved in the centenary history of the BWA, Baptists Together in Christ 1905-2005, especially Dr RV Pierard as Editor, and Dr Eljee Bentley as co-editor; a second co-editor was Dr G Borchert.
The Commission has published materials to help Baptists discover and preserve their heritage:
International Directory of Baptist Archives/Libraries (1990)
Manual for Developing Baptist Archives (1990) (click here)
Bibliography of Selected Histories of BWA Member Bodies in Countries other than the USA
Commission members Richard Pierard and Eljee Bentley took a leading role in producing Baptists Together in Christ 1905-2005, a Hundred-Year History of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA, 2005)
The Commission assisted Albert Wardin in producing Baptists around the World (Broadman and Holman, 1995).
Selected papers by members are included in the volumes of the Study and Research Division of the BWA:
Faith, Life and Witness (1990)
Baptist Faith and Witness (1995)
Baptist Faith and Witness II (2000)
Baptist Faith and Witness (2005)
Baptist Faith and Witness (2010) forthcoming
Contact Chair for more information
Contact Baptist World Alliance
Charter for METR Commissions
The purpose of BWA Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection (METR) is to be a space for common theological reflection on, and engagement in, ecclesiological and missiological challenges facing local Baptist churches affiliated with BWA's Member Bodies.
Responsibilities of Commission Leaders & Members
1. Ensure that their respective programs are aligned with the purpose of BWA METR as identified above. To this end, Commission members are expected to develop recommendations and resources intended to assist BWA member bodies and churches to fulfill their calling.
2. Share in orientation to role and become fully aware of the Commission's purpose and be ready to commit to active participation as follows:
Regular members commit to attending at least three of the four meetings held annually in each quinquennium.
Corresponding members contribute to the work of the Commission. They also endeavor to attend at least one Commission meeting in each quinquennium.
3. Collaborate in carrying out Commission business making appropriate use of modern communications technology.
4. Commission leaders serve in close cooperation with the Director and Advisory Committee of METR.
5. At the start of a quinquennium, develop the program of work for the planning cycle in consultation with the METR Director. This program is determined after an effort at the widest possible consultation with the members of the Commission.
6. Each Commission normally meets in three or four sessions during each Annual Gathering.
7. Commission leaders stand ready to offer leadership in Forums held at the Annual Gathering when invited to do so by the BWA General Secretary.
The Commission on Baptist Heritage and Identity seeks to clarify issues pertaining to the heritage and identity of the Baptist family with a view to furthering the local congregation's understanding of its place and calling in the world and also in the worldwide Baptist movement. The Commission records the story of God's dealings among Baptists around the world and produces materials suitable for use by Baptists and by others who are interested in understanding Baptist identity.