1965 (1) – Baptist World Alliance

For a long time I haven’t paid much attention to making New Year’s resolutions. But this year I have made two: to write more letters (as opposed to just email messages, and maybe one a day on most days) and to go through accumulated “stuff,” discarding or at least organizing most of it.

In connection with the latter resolution, I decided to use this blog as a means of recording some stories from the past, perhaps with accompanying pictures of artifacts that can then be disposed of. I started this morning going through a box of books and things that we brought back from Japan in 2004, a hodgepodge of stuff that was still in our garage.

One of the items I ran across this morning was the booklet prepared for the Eleventh Congress of the Baptist World Alliance, which was held in Miami Beach, Florida, in June 1965. I was a graduate student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at the time, and I had the good fortune of being chosen to be the student representative of the Seminary at the BWA meeting. Getting our way paid to Florida was pretty heady stuff for us then.

So June and I, accompanied by June’s mother, drove to Miami Beach and had a wonderful time at the meeting–and in Florida for the first time. bwa-665

This “congress” was a year before we were appointed missionaries to Japan (in June 1966), and we were happy to meet Max and Dorothy Garrott, and their son Jack, who later were our missionary colleagues in Japan. There were also two Japanese pastors there whom we later came to know as co-workers in Japan: Rev. Shuichi Matsumura and Rev. Yoshikazu Nakajima.

We remember well the election of the new BWA president: William R. Tolbert, Jr., who at the time was Vice-President of the Republic of Liberia. (In July 1971 Tolbert became the 20th President of Liberia and was in that position until 1980, when he was killed in a coup d’état.)

On Saturday evening (June 26) and Sunday afternoon there were large meetings at the Orange Bowl, and Billy Graham preached at both of those sessions–and we, along with thousands of others, were able to shake hands with him.

The picture with this article is the front of the BWA booklet, which I unpacked this morning. I didn’t make many notes in it, but at the bottom of one page of the program I wrote, “It’s amazing how much better the speakers do when we’re rested.”

One of the featured speakers was Harold E. Stassen, who was Governor of Minnesota from 1939 to 1943 and who actively sought to be the Republican nominee for President nine times between 1948 and 1992. This was 20 years after the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, and Stassen said, “There is no way to do away with nuclear weapons; men must learn to live together in a world which contains nuclear weapons.”

Fortunately, there has not been use of nuclear weapons in the more than fifty years since Stassen spoke those words.

Later, Glen Stassen, Gov. Stassen’s son, became a friend of mine, and I wrote a blog article about him at the time of his 77th birthday (see here). Glen is remembered as an advocate of what he called “just peacemaking.”

Well, coming across the BWA booklet this morning brought back many good memories, and I am happy to be able to share them here for whoever might like to read them.