By Jeff Brumley
American John Upton has been succeeded by South African Ngwedla Paul Msiza to lead the Baptist World Alliance.
Msiza, 53, is only the second African ever elected to the BWA presidency. The first was Liberian William Tolbert, who held the office from 1965 to 1970.
Msiza’s election came in voting during the BWA’s six-day Annual Gathering which concludes Saturday in Izmir, Turkey. Voters also selected 12 vice presidents to help oversee the global Baptist organization.
He will assume the leadership at the conclusion of BWA’s next annual meeting in July 2015 in Durban, South Africa, leaders of the organization announced on Friday.
Msiza who is pastor of Peniel-Salem Baptist Church in Pretoria, holds degrees from the University of Witwatersrand, the University of South Africa, the Baptist Theological Seminary of Southern Africa and the Baptist Bible Institute. He has worked bivocationally as a pastor and a school teacher from 1988 until 1995, when he became the founding principle of the Baptist Convention College.
Msiza has extensive experience in national and international religious affairs, and also with the Alliance since 2000.
Currently a vice president with the organization, he also serves on the General Council, and the Executive, Nominations, Congress, Promotion and Development and Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection committees. He’s also served on the Membership Committee and on the Academic and Theological Education Workgroup.
He is now helping arrange next year’s Baptist World Congress. Held every five years, the congress is the largest gathering of global Baptists.
Msiza was president of the All Africa Baptist Fellowship, one of six BWA regional groups, from 2006 to 2011 and served as general secretary of the Baptist Convention of South Africa from 2001 to 2010.
BWA also announced the names of its 12 newly elected vice presidents: Michael Okwakol, Uganda; Ernest Adu-Gyamfi, Ghana; Tapan Chowdhury, Bangladesh; Miyon Chung, South Korea; Anslem Warrick, Trinidad and Tobago; Jules Casseus, Haiti; Dimitrina Oprenova, Bulgaria; Jan Saethre, Norway; Naomi Tyler-Lloyd and Jerry Carlisle of the United States; Jorge Quinteros, Chile; and Luiz Roberto Silvado, Brazil.
Saethre of Norway will serve as first vice president, BWA leaders said.