Baptist World Alliance

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) is the largest international Baptist organization with an estimated 47 million people in 2021 with 245 member bodies in 128 countries and territories. A voluntary association of Baptist churches, the BWA accounts for about half the Baptists in the world.

Baptist World Alliance
Baptist World Alliance Logo.png
General Secretary and CEOElijah M. Brown, since 2018
PresidentTomás Mackey, since 2020
Region128 countries
HeadquartersFalls Church, Virginia, U.S.
OriginJuly 1905
London, United Kingdom

The BWA was founded in 1905 in London during an international congress of Baptist churches. Its headquarters are in Falls Church, Washington metropolitan area, Virginia, United States. It is led by General Secretary and CEO Elijah M. Brown and by President Tomás Mackey.


Believer's baptism of adult by immersion at Northolt Park Baptist Church, in Greater London, Baptist Union of Great Britain.
Show on the life of Jesus at Igreja da Cidade, affiliated to the Brazilian Baptist Convention, in São José dos Campos, Brazil, 2017
Chümoukedima Ao Baptist Church building in Chümoukedima, affiliated with the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (India).

The roots of the Baptist World Alliance can be traced back to the seventeenth century when Baptist leader Thomas Grantham proposed the concept of a congregation of all Christians in the world that are "baptised according to the appointment of Christ."[1] Similar proposals were put forward later such as the call of John Rippon in 1790 for a world meeting of Baptists "to consult the ecclesiastical good to the whole."[1]

It was, however, only in 1904 when such congregation became a reality. John Newton Prestridge, editor of The Baptist Argus, at Louisville, Kentucky called for a world gathering of Baptists. John Howard Shakespeare, editor of The Baptist Times and Freeman, London, endorsed the proposal.[2][3][4] In October 1904, the Baptist Union of Great Britain passed a resolution to invite a Congress to meet with them in 1905. At the Congress, a committee was formed, which proposed a Constitution for a World Alliance. The Baptist World Alliance was founded in London, during this first Baptist World Congress in July 1905.[5][6][7][8]

Membership was opened to "any general Union, Convention or Association of Baptist Churches", and it was decided that the Alliance would "meet in general assembly ordinarily once in five years, unless otherwise determined by the Executive Committee". Three leading personalities involved in the organisation included Prestridge, Shakespeare and Alexander Maclaren (who served as provisional President).[citation needed]

The gathering was referred to as an "alliance" and not a council in order to establish the nature of the dialogue as a meeting. This means that the body wields no authority over participating churches or national Baptist unions, serving only as a forum for collaboration.[9]

In 2020, the Argentinian Tomás Mackey succeeded South African Paul Msiza and became president of the Alliance.[10]


According to a denomination census released in 2021, it has 245 Baptist denominations members in 128 countries, 173,000 churches and 49,000,000 baptized members.[11]


The Alliance has a Baptist confession of faith.[12]


The alliance's stated goals are to: "(1) To Unite Baptists Worldwide; (2) To Lead in World Evangelization; (3) To Respond to People in Need; and (4) To Defend Human Rights."[13]

Organisational structureEdit

The Alliance is divided into six regional or geographical fellowships: North American Baptist Fellowship, Asia Pacific Baptist Federation (formerly Asian Baptist Federation), All-Africa Baptist Fellowship, Caribbean Baptist Fellowship, Union of Baptists in Latin America, and European Baptist Federation.[14] Each regional fellowship is served by an Executive Secretary.

List of presidentsEdit

Name Term Country
John Clifford 1905–1911 UK
Robert Stuart MacArthur 1911–1923 USA
Edgar Young Mullins 1923–1928 USA
John MacNeill 1928–1934 Canada
George Washington Truett 1934–1939 USA
James Henry Rushbrooke 1939–1947 UK
Charles Oscar Johnson 1947–1950 USA
Fred Townley Lord 1950–1955 UK
Theodore Floyd Adams 1955–1960 USA
Joao Filson Soren 1960–1965 Brasil
William Tolbert 1965–1970 Liberia
Carney Hargroves 1970–1975 USA
David Wong [de] 1975–1980 Hong Kong
Duke Kimbrough McCall 1980–1985 USA
Noel Vose 1985–1990 Australia
Knud Wümpelmann [de] 1990–1995 Denmark
Nilson do Amaral Fanini 1995–2000 Brasil
Billy Kim 2000–2005 South Korea
David Coffey 2005–2010 UK
John Upton 2010–2015 USA (Virginia)
Paul Mzisa 2015-2020 South Africa
Tomás Mackey 2020- Argentina

Baptist World CongressEdit

Baptist World Congresses have been held every few years since 1905.[8][15][16][17]

No. Year City Country
1. 1905 London   GBR
2. 1911 Philadelphia   USA
3. 1923 Stockholm   SWE
4. 1928 Toronto   CAN
5. 1934 Berlin   DEU
6. 1939 Atlanta   USA
7. 1947 Copenhagen   DNK
8. 1950 Cleveland   USA
9. 1955 London   GBR
10. 1960 Rio de Janeiro   BRA
11. 1965 Miami Beach   USA
12. 1970 Tokyo   JPN
13. 1975 Stockholm   SWE
14. 1980 Toronto   CAN
15. 1985 Los Angeles   USA
16. 1990 Seoul   KOR
17. 1995 Buenos Aires   ARG
18. 2000 Melbourne   AUS
19. 2005 Birmingham   GBR
19. 2010 Honolulu   USA
19. 2015 Durban   ZAF
19. 2021 (Online)

Social programsEdit

The denomination has an affiliated humanitarian organization, BWAid.[18]

Ecumenical relationsEdit

The Baptist World Alliance is involved in ecumenical dialogues, including with the Roman Catholic Church and the World Methodist Council. [19] One series of International Conversations between the BWA and the Catholic Church took place from between 1984 and 1988 moderated by the Reverend Dr David T. Shannon, sometime President of Andover Newton Theological School, and the Most Reverend Bede Heather, Bishop of Parramatta.[20] While this dialogue produced the report called Summons to Witness to Christ in Today's World, the second phase did not push through because of opposition from within the Baptist World Alliance itself.[21] Negotiations continued, however, so that a series of consultations transpired from 2000 to 2003. During this period the Baptists and Catholics discussed important doctrines that divide these denominations.[21] These second series of conversations resulted in formal meetings between 2006 and 2010. The current Co-Moderators are Paul Fiddes, Professor of Systematic Theology in the University of Oxford and formerly Principal of Regent's Park College, Oxford, and Arthur J. Serratelli, Bishop of Paterson.[22]


In 2004, the Southern Baptist Convention of the United States had accused then-BWA President Kim of adopting a liberal theology, because of his support for the exercise of pastoral ministry of women, its anti-Americanism, and because a member denomination, the American Baptist Churches USA, had accepted an organization that had two churches favorable to marriage between people of the same sex, and thereafter left the organization.[23] Alliance Secretary General Denton Lotz replied that the Alliance was not liberal, but evangelical conservative, that the American Baptist Churches USA in its constitution believed only in marriage between a man and a woman and that any accusations of anti-Americanism had resulted from his visits to Fidel Castro in Cuba for the import of Bibles and the expansion of the freedom of belief.[24][25] In 2005, two state denomination members of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Baptist General Association of Virginia and the Baptist General Convention of Texas, applied for membership in the Alliance and were admitted.[26]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Williams, Michael; Shurden, Walter (2008). Turning Points in Baptist History: A Festschrift in Honor of Harry Leon McBeth. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press. p. 223. ISBN 978-0881461350.
  2. ^ Lord, Townley F. (2007). Baptist World Fellowship: A Short History Of The Baptist World Alliance. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 978-0-548-44182-4.
  3. ^ Wardin, Albert W., ed. (1995). Baptists Around the World: A Comprehensive Handbook. Broadman & Holman. ISBN 0-8054-1076-7.
  4. ^ Leornard, Bill J. (1994). Dictionary of Baptists in America. InterVarsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-1447-7.
  5. ^ Johnson, Robert E. (2010). A Global Introduction to Baptist Churches. UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 238.
  6. ^ Brackney, William H. (2009). Historical Dictionary of the Baptists. USA: Scarecrow Press. p. 59.
  7. ^ Melton, J. Gordon; Baumann, Martin (2010). Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices. USA: ABC-CLIO. p. 297.
  8. ^ a b Pierard, Richard V. (1 October 2010). "The Baptist World Congress of 1905 and the Emergence of Black American Baptists on the International Scene". Baptist Quarterly. 43 (8): 494–505. doi:10.1179/bqu.2010.43.8.004. ISSN 0005-576X. S2CID 162270005.
  9. ^ Johnson, Robert (2010). A Global Introduction to Baptist Churches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 238. ISBN 978-0-52187781-7.
  10. ^ Baptist World Alliance, Tomás Mackey Installed as Next BWA President,, USA, 23 July 2020
  11. ^ Baptist World Alliance, Members,, USA, retrieved January 29, 2022
  12. ^ Baptist World Alliance, Beliefs,, USA, retrieved August 22, 2020
  13. ^ "About BWA". Baptist World Alliance. Archived from the original on 4 August 2009. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
  14. ^ Baptist World Alliance, Regional Fellowships,, USA, retrieved 5 December 2020
  15. ^ McKinney, Blake (March 2018). ""One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism" in the Land of ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer: The Fifth Baptist World Congress (Berlin, 1934)". Church History. 87 (1): 122–148. doi:10.1017/S0009640718000823. ISSN 0009-6407.
  16. ^ Deweese, Charles W. (1 January 2008). "E. Y. Mullins and Baptist World Congresses". Baptist History and Heritage. 43 (1): 4. ISSN 0005-5719.
  17. ^ "Gathering Global Baptists for More than 100 Years". Baptist World Alliance Website. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  18. ^ Baptist World Alliance, BWAid,, USA, retrieved June 8, 2021
  19. ^ Geoffrey Wainwright, Paul McPartlan, The Oxford Handbook of Ecumenical Studies, Oxford University Press, UK, 2021, p. 175
  20. ^ Angelo Maffeis, Ecumenical Dialogue, Liturgical Press, USA, 2005, p. 44-45
  21. ^ a b Cassidy, Edward (2005). Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue: Unitatis Redintegratio, Nostra Aetate. New York: Paulist Press. pp. 68. ISBN 0809143380.
  22. ^ "Baptist—Roman Catholic International Conversations". Centro Pro Unione. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
  23. ^ Don Hinkle, SBC severs ties with BWA as theological concerns remain,, USA, 15 June 2004
  24. ^ Ted Olsen, Southern Baptists No Longer In, Nor Of, World Alliance,, USA, 1 June 2004
  25. ^ Alan Cooperman, Southern Baptists Vote To Leave World Alliance,, USA, 16 June 2004
  26. ^ Robert Dilday, Marv Knox, Part of the family: Virginia is elected new BWA member,, USA, 7 August 2005

External linksEdit