Listening to the voices of the marginalised, opposing discrimination of women and noting the impact of climate change were among the commitments made by Baptists around the world in Rome as part of the ‘urgent Gospel task of being justice seekers and peacemakers’.
The commitments were made at the Global Baptist Peace Conference in Rome earlier this month.
The conference—the fifth international peace conference held among Baptists in the last 20 years—gathered around 350 delegates from 59 countries.
They were mostly Baptists, but included those from both the wider Christian community and the Islamic faith.
The week featured worship, seminar and plenary sessions. At its close, a statement was agreed.
The delegates came together to ‘teach and preach, learn and live, the commitment to peace-building and justice-making that is at the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ,’ the statement began.
‘Together we shared in worship of the God who is our peace… Together we listened to stories of pain and violence, of tears and despair, of life and renewal, of harmony and hope… ‘Together we learned the practice of peacemaking.’
There then followed a list of declarations. Delegates urged Baptists around the world to make the same affirmations.
They included affirming the commitment both to the role of the United Nations in resolving national and international disputes, and to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The delegates pledged to ‘recognise the reality of conflict between peoples of different faith’, and to commit to deepen mutual understanding.
They also committed to ‘challenging the unjust social and economic structures that perpetuate inequality and destroy life’, and to ‘opposing the particular forms of violence and discrimination that are inflicted upon women’.
In addition, the delegates stated they would listen to the voices of the marginalised, including refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, and offer a welcome ‘to strangers in our midst’.
Finally, they committed to follow the way of peace ‘through our concern for the whole of creation, including the impact of climate change on our environment, and we will reject privatisation that denies people access to basic needs, such as clean water’.
The Revd Dr Richard Kidd, principal of Northern Baptist College, attended the conference.
He said, ‘The visible hope, embodied in this conference, is the testimony of Christian people who, despite their numerical weakness, nonetheless represent immense transformative energy, energy which has already changed the lives of significant numbers of people right across the world.’