Next BWA Gathering to be in Turkey
The 2014 Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Annual Gathering will be held in Izmir, Turkey, from July 6-12
The Annual Gathering brings together an international group of Baptist leaders, theologians, teachers, pastors and other representatives for worship, fellowship, study, theological reflection and decision meetings.
Izmir has a small Baptist community affiliated with Izmir Baptist Church. Another Baptist church is in the east of Turkey, in the Black Sea region.
BWA General Secretary Neville Callam visited Izmir in March 2009 and worshiped at the Izmir Baptist Church and at a Baptist house church in an adjoining town. He met with the pastors of both Baptist churches in the country as well as with the governor of Izmir Province.
Dr Callam spoke at a press conference where the Association of Izmir, a group of persons from various faith traditions, announced plans for Turkey to intentionally become a heritage site for Christian pilgrims. Dr Callam stated that 'for Christians, this is a holy land, and being a heritage site would help Christians to connect with western Turkey.'
Izmir, in western Turkey, is biblical Smyrna mentioned in Revelation chapters two and three. It is part of a larger geographical region referred to as Asia Minor in the New Testament.
People attending the gathering will have the opportunity to visit a number of sites central to the history of Early Christianity, including the ancient ruins of biblical Ephesus, which is close to Izmir.
Izmir, the third most populous city in Turkey, is also the location of St. Polycarp Church, named after the second century bishop of Smyrna said to have been a disciple of John the Apostle, who was burned at the stake for refusing to recant his faith. Persons may also visit the place where it is believed Polycarp was martyred.
Additional information will be made available on the BWA website. Registration for the Annual Gathering commences in early 2014.