callam.1On Sunday, November 1st, our church celebrates its annual Baptist Heritage Day. UHBC appreciates its unique position as “free and faithful Baptists” situated here in the Ozarks. We are the only American Baptist and/or Cooperative Baptist Fellowship congregation in southwest Missouri. We also maintain a partnership with Greene County Baptist Association, the local grouping of Southern Baptist Churches.

Each year, we invite one of our Baptist leaders to help us acknowledge this important time in our church’s life. This year we are grateful to have Dr. Neville Callam with us. He is the General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA). Callam has served in a variety of ways in church life, including pastor, administrator, educator and media manager, theologian, and ecumenist. He was ordained to the Christian ministry by the Jamaica Baptist Union in 1977, and has taught in the United Theological College of the West Indies and the Jamaica Theological Seminary. Callam also served for 13 years as a member of the Standing Commision on Faith and Order in the World Council of Churches.

Callam has authored or edited seven books, the most recent being “Pursuing Unity and Defending Rights: The Baptist World Alliance at Work.” He has made presentations at symposia, seminars, worships and services of worship in more than 70 countries.

He and his wife Dulcie Allison have been married for more than 30 years, and are proud parents of two adult children, Deidre and Gairy. The Callams are also happy grandparents of two girls, Krista and Kari.

While having lunch with a preacher friend of mine, I was reminded of the diversity and differences among Baptist churches and entities. I’m fortunate to be friends with several Southern Baptist ministers in this area (I am not certain they would admit that in their circles, however). We can enjoy being together without having to agree on all aspects of polity and theology. Baptists have done of good job of being a schismatic people on a variety of issues. Indeed, the Southern Baptist Convention defunded the Baptist World Alliance years ago. Still, it remains a vibrant and active organization which includes many races, cultures, and diverse locations. It is truly a global community of Baptists.

For this reason and others, our church is grateful to maintain our support of the BWA. We’re excited about having Neville with us, and are looking forward to that time of renewal and reminder of our commonality as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ with those in different places around the world.