David Coffey, general secretary for the Baptist Union of Great Britain, was nominated as president-elect of the Baptist World Alliance, replacing Korean pastor Billy Kim.
Asian Baptist delegates celebrate David Coffey's nomination as president-elect of Baptist World Alliance.
Coffey, whose five-year term begins in July 2005, told delegates at the annual meeting of BWA's General Council, that he felt "the favor of God in my life at this moment."
One of 16 current vice presidents, Coffey repeated the often-heard call during the council meeting for unity in the Baptist family.
"I believe it [unity] is the most urgent need for the members of the Alliance," he said.
The BWA exists "as an expression of the essential oneness of Baptist people in the Lord Jesus Christ," he said. "We need a fresh realization of what it means to be in Christ."
Coffey said, "Blessed are the bridge builders because their work shall in time be fruitful."
The British Baptist leader told delegates from some 30 nations that he attended his first BWA Congress in 1975 in Stockholm, Sweden, as a young 34-year old pastor.
"That Congress opened a window on God's world and this morning the view from that window suddenly seems bigger," he said.
Coffey urged delegates not to shrink in fear from the world's "seismic changes" but to draw closer to God.
He pledged his support for the BWA's twin wings of evangelism and social action.
"I gladly affirm this morning my responsibility as a disciple of Jesus Christ to work with others to reach the lost with the good news of the gospel," he said, referring specifically to BWA's five-year evangelistic initiative.
In addition to serving on the budget and finance committee of the BWA's executive committee, Coffey sits on the body's evangelism and education executive committee.
Coffey also pledged to support the Micah Challenge, a global project to cut the world's poverty rate in half by 2015.
He said he wanted work with others "to make poverty history."
The beginning of Coffey's term coincides with the 100th anniversary celebration of the founding of the BWA, which will be held July 27-31, 2005, in Birmingham, England.
Robert Parham is executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.