Colorful shops in Stavanger, Norway.
Photo by Curtis Ramsey-Lucas
From the editor: Greetings from Stavanger, Norway
Greetings from Stavanger, Norway where I am attending the annual gathering of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA).
Members of the BWA’s general council unanimously passed a resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery. With more than 200 people present from more than 40 nations, the resolution marked the first BWA resolution devoted to Indigenous issues.
The resolution celebrates “the rich diversity of humans made in the image of God around the world,” and repudiates the Doctrine of Discovery and the theological interpretations used to justify the abuse, enslavement, and slaughter of Indigenous peoples, noting “such efforts to bless the dehumanizing of people and the theft of their lands are fundamentally in opposition to the gospel of Jesus.”
Noting that such principles remain “embedded in some national laws, societal attitudes toward Indigenous peoples, and even in some Christian resources,” the resolution calls on “Baptist churches, colleges, unions, and other institutions to study their own historical and present complicity with discrimination against Indigenous peoples and urges more work toward restorative justice efforts to end discrimination against Indigenous peoples and repair the damage from past wrongs.”
The BWA launched two major new initiatives in Stavanger—the Global Baptist Mission Network, which seeks to network Baptists to impact the world for Christ, and the Global Freedom Network, a religious freedom threat assessment and intervention system to mitigate threats in each BWA region.
Also, this week, the BWA presented its Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award to Mona Khauli of Lebanon. Established in 2006, the annual award recognizes significant and effective activities to secure, protect, restore, or preserve human rights.
For six decades, Khauli has advocated for women’s equal participation in society and has led numerous programs to empower women through social, economic, and educational development.
Since 1977, Khauli has served as national executive director of the YMCA in Lebanon. Taking the position during Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, she led the organization’s response to the conflict. Overseeing a team of 800 volunteers and nine member associations, she worked to provide emergency aid to Christians and Muslims throughout Lebanon. She also led the development of vocational training programs for a growing number of women who became heads of households because of the war.
Khauli has worked to enact legislation to eliminate discrimination against women and has led nation-wide campaigns to end violence against women. In 2004, she established the first shelter in Lebanon for abused women and children.
BWA members spent an evening in dialogue with Miroslav Volf, professor of theology at Yale Divinity School and founding director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. In a wide-ranging conversation, Volf noted, “Most of the things that matter to our culture didn’t matter to Jesus, and most of the things that mattered to Jesus don’t matter to us.”
Last week, while leading a youth mission trip to Spartanburg, South Carolina, I received the devastating news that my best friend from college had died. You can read my tribute to him, “When death interrupts life.” Read other stories published this week here.
Be well. Life is short but love endures.