By Eron Henry
More than 300 Baptist leaders from around the world will gather in Izmir, Turkey, July 6-12 for the Baptist World Alliance’s Annual Gathering.
The event will include meetings of the BWA’s governing General Council and its executive committee, and in addition to business will include worship, fellowship and Bible study.
Topping the agenda will be election of a new BWA president, along with 12 vice presidents, who will take office at the Baptist World Congress in Durban, South Africa, next summer. Current BWA president John Upton, executive director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, will complete a five-year term at the Congress in Durban.
The Annual Gathering also will feature the presentation of the 2014 Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award to Ilie Coada of Moldova for his work in fighting human trafficking and sex slavery in his country.
In addition to committee meetings, commissions will host presentations on a wide array of subjects such as theological education, church planting, Baptist identity and Baptist preaching. Justice issues related to human rights, religious freedom, social oppression, poverty, gender and the environment will also be explored.
Izmir is known in the Bible as Smyrna. Annual Gathering participants will tour that city and the nearby ruins of Ephesus, an important site in early Christianity. The Apostle Paul spent at least two years in Ephesus, as recorded in the book of Acts. Ephesus was the capital of Asia Minor when the book of Revelation was written and the church in that city was, along with Smyrna, two of seven to which Revelation was addressed.