"The Baptist Olympics." Spectacle and pageantry.
It's a striking image, summoned by Joel Gregory, to characterize the upcoming Baptist World Congress in Durban, South Africa.
Gregory, who holds the George W. Truett Endowed Chair in Preaching and Evangelism at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University, will deliver the congress' closing sermon.
He talks about the upcoming congress and the global Baptist witness in a new Skype interview with EthicsDaily.com.
Skype Interview: Joel Gregory from EthicsDaily on Vimeo.
Gregory recounts the first congress of the Baptist World Alliance in London in 1905.
"Since that time," he says, "it has been a daring venture to get together a free-church people from all over the world."
Gregory also discusses the need, especially in the United States, for what the BWA represents and delivers.
"We need, I think, to be delivered from the parochialism in the United States," he says, combating the idea that "we're the epicenter of the Baptist movement."
"The Baptist movement is a world movement, 126 countries, and to get us all together is a phenomenally enlarging thing," he adds. The congress displays the spectrum of global Baptists in worship expressions and ecclesiology, delivering a "kind of multi-ethnic, pluralistic fellowship."
Gregory also reminds his fellow Americans, "It's much easier to be a Baptist in the United States than it is in much of the world. We're a privileged people. Much of the Baptist movement in the world is people from the margins for whom it is not easy to be a Baptist."
The 21st Baptist World Congress will be held in Durban, South Africa, from July 22-26.
Watch the interview with Gregory at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily/skype-joelgregory
Learn more about Gregory at GregoryMinistries.org
Learn more about the Baptist World Congress at BWAnet.org/congress
Watch other EthicsDaily.com Skype interviews at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily