2005: Birmingham, United Kingdom

The commission met in Birmingham, England, during the BWA’s Centenary Congress from July 26-31, 2005. 

Because of the scheduled events of the festivities, neither the Committees nor the Study and Research Commissions met in separate sessions this year. Instead, continuing and new members of these groups met in special-called sessions both to receive information and make introductions for their work during the upcoming quinquennium.

Members of the Study and Research Commissions met together from 2:00-3:00 on Wednesday, 27 July, in the International Conference Center, Hall 3, in the Birmingham convention center complex. This was the final session moderated by Tony Cupit, out-going Director of the Evangelism and Education Division, whose resignation after fifteen years of sterling service (1990-2005) became effective with the July 2005 Congress.

Tony Cupit thanked his assistant Lauren Weaver, introduced the new leadership teams for all Commissions, and suggested ways the Commissions could help ensure a smooth transition for incoming Director Fausto Aguiar de Vasconcelos, who will assume his responsibilities full-time in 2006. The members then divided into their various study groups for updates, contact information exchange, and future meetings preparation.


  1. Welcome and thanks for the work of the 2000-2005 leadership team:
    Chairman Chuck Weber; Secretary Geoff Pound; Vice-Chairs Zeljko Mraz, and Karen Bullock.
  2. Due to the brevity of time allotted for the meeting, attention in this initial session was given to the following items:
  • (A) introducing those in attendance;
  • (B) reconfirming the program format for annual sessions voted and approved by the HIC Commission during the BWA 2001 meeting in Prince Edward Island;
  • (C) suggesting topics for future meetings; and
  • (D) commending the excellent service rendered to the Commission.

(A) Roll Call: Those attending the meeting introduced themselves and identified their Baptist affiliation. A roll call sheet was circulated and those attending signed it giving their home and e-mail addresses.

(B) Format: Commission members considered for reconfirmation the Heritage and Identity Format for annual sessions that was employed from 2001-2004. Following explanations by Chuck Weber, outgoing Chair of the Heritage Identity Commission, the Commission voted by acclamation to continue to employ this flexible format for its four sessions each year:

(1) Local Church History: Focus on the history of Baptists in the area where the Commission is meeting – Mexico (3-8 July 2006 – site yet undetermined), Accra, Ghana (2-7 July 2007), Middle East (21-6 July 2008 – site yet undetermined), Amsterdam, Netherlands (6-11 July 2009), and Honolulu, Hawaii (28 July-1 August 2010). Commission member Denorah B. Mendez, of Boulevares, Mexico, graciously offered to work with the Commission officers to plan next years’ first session in Mexico.(2) Resources: Address an area that might provide people with resources for stimulating awareness in Baptist Heritage and Identity. Members are encouraged to continue to research their own countries’ Baptist histories and submit photographs and text to David Parker for the HIC website.(3) Baptist Identity: Focus on an issue about Baptist Identity. This could be a joint session between the Doctrine and Heritage & Identity commissions.(4) Housekeeping: Dialogue about current projects, writing tasks, preparation for the next Congress, Commission publications, and other items as members express interest.

(C) Future Topics: Commission members offered the following suggestions for future
session topics:

  • The Independent Baptist Church Phenomenon in Africa
  • Influence of the Catholic Religion upon Baptist Identity in South America (Mexico 2006?)
  • How Baptist Churches Relate to State Churches
  • Drifting Toward Pan-Evangelicalism: Loss of Baptist Identity?
  • Are Baptists Actually Evangelicals?
  • Explorations between Soul Freedom and the Democratic Process
  • Is There an Identifiable Baptist Identity in our Hymnody?
  • The Influence of Democracy upon Baptist Polity
  • Recent Emerging Confessions of Faith: Reflections on Baptist Identity
  • Immigration Movements and the Role of Church: Impact upon Baptist Identity

(D) Commendations: Commission members applauded with gratitude the fine work rendered by several persons in the past year(s).

(1) The work of the writers and editors of the definitive history of the Baptist World Alliance, Baptists Together in Christ: 1905-2005, was begun in 1997 and published in 2005 in time for the Centenary Congress. Inexpressible thanks were tendered to General Editor Richard V. Pierard, Associate Editors Elna Jean (Eljee) Young Bently and Gerald Borchert, and the writers who authored the chapters: Horace O. Russell; John H. Y. Briggs; Robert S. Wilson; Erich Geldbach; W. Morgan Patterson and Richard Pierard; James Leo Garrett, Jr.; Faith Bowers; Ian M. Randall; Albert W. Wardin, Jr.; Ken R. Manley; and Denton Lotz. Special gratitude was also extended to Samford University President Thomas E. Corts for providing support for the book’s printing.
The Commission members expressed their indebtedness to the Core Committee of the Heritage and Identity Commission for their valuable work of carrying out the project, scheduling timelines for production, and conceptualizing the nature of the work itself. These seven members were: General Secretary Denton Lotz; Study and Research Director Tony Cupit; Study and Research Co-Chairs James Leo Garrett and Gerald Borchert; Baptist Heritage Study Commission Chair Eljee Bentley; and Heritage Commission members John H. Y. Briggs and Horace O. Russell. BWA Executive Assistant Ruby J. Burke served as the project secretary.

(2) The Commission also expressed thanks to The Baptist Historical Society of England for the exemplary special exhibition located in the Birmingham Central Library from 17 July to 5 August 2005 entitled “Birmingham Baptists: Their Mission in the City and in the World.” Members were encouraged to make this wonderful display a part of their BWA experience.

(3) The Baptist Historical Society also published and distributed two leaflets for the July 2005 Centenary celebration. The first, written by Alan Betteridge, was the helpful, eight-page, walking tour guide, giving brief historical vignettes of many Birmingham sites. The second was the sixteen-page booklet called “Baptist Sites and Sights,” written by Faith Bowers. This delightful guide highlighted briefly selected sites of Baptist heritage interest across England, Scotland, and Wales, arranged by geographic region. Copies of both leaflets were distributed to all Commission members and were gratefully received. Both authors were commended for their contribution to Baptist heritage.

(4) The Commission expressed continued indebtedness to David Parker for his excellent service as the Heritage and Identity’s webmaster. All announcements, photos, items pertaining to the general interest, and changes of address or e-mails, should be sent to Karen Bullock at karenb@dbu.edu, who will submit these to David Parker for posting on the website.

III. Prayer and Adjournment: The session was concluded with a prayer, given by Dr. Russell Dilday, and thanks to those who gathered at this session and the other sessions in Birmingham. Next year, God willing, we will meet together in Mexico.

Submitted by Karen Bullock