Elijah Brown elected BWA general secretary
Human rights specialist Elijah Brown has been elected the next general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA). Dr Brown was formally approved by the General Council on Friday, 7 July, in Bangkok, Thailand, at its meeting during the BWA Annual Gathering.
Dr Brown will be the ninth BWA general secretary since its founding in 1905. He will assume the position on January 1, 2018, after Neville Callam's retirement in December this year after more than 10 years of service.
The general secretary is the CEO of the BWA and has overall responsibilities for the administration and operations of the organisation, and is its chief representative to global organizations and institutions, ecclesial and secular, and to governments.
Dr Brown, 36, has had a decade long involvement in the international umbrella organisation for Baptists, starting in 2007 when he was named one of 35 global emerging leaders by the BWA. He is currently BWA regional secretary for North America and general secretary for the North American Baptist Fellowship.
His specialty lies in human rights and religious liberty. He helped to launch the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, a religious liberty advocacy agency, and became its executive vice president and CEO.
Dr Brown has conducted research on, led training events in and done human rights advocacy work in South Sudan, Nigeria, Eritrea, Iraq, Nepal and other countries. He has submitted reports to the United Nations and the US Department of State, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom and several foundations and groups.
He said, ‘I understand my own calling to be one of global, collaborative engagement that believes in the local church, takes seriously the word of God, listens to the Holy Spirit and seeks to build networks that act together in areas of mission, justice and deepening theological education as Christ-centered witnesses within the public square, especially in areas of conflict, persecution, refugee marginalisation and injustice.’
Outgoing general secretary Dr Callam said Dr Brown was thoroughly suited for his new role, pointing to his scholastic preparation, research experience in Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, and his decade-long involvement in BWA life. He said the newly elected leader "has been gifted by God," and has "a passion for social justice, including religious liberty.”
In expressing full confidence in his successor, Dr Callam declared that he "expects Elijah's service with the BWA to be marked by robust advocacy in the cause of social justice and enthusiastic engagement witnessing to the transformative power of the Gospel."
John Upton, former BWA president and chair of the General Secretary Search Committee, added, ‘Elijah understands the BWA, values human rights, is a champion of religious freedom, connects with all generations, is a passionate speaker, a skilled administrator.’
Mr Upton noted that the new BWA leader ‘is well published and deeply respected in academic circles. Elijah combines motivation, inspiration and innovation with great skill and effectiveness.’
Dr Brown earned a Bachelor's degree from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Texas with a double major in religion and history, and a Ph.D. in Divinity with a focus on World Christianity from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
The son of a pastor, Dr Brown was ordained to the Christian ministry in July 2002 and was associate pastor at Taylor's Valley Baptist Church in Temple, Texas. He said his "lifelong commitment to ministry [is] shaped by three principles." These are: ‘absolute dedication to the study of the Bible and life-alignment to the teachings of Scripture, a firm belief that the Holy Spirit is always at work in the world and that our responsibility is to listen to how we can lovingly join in his activity, and in the beauty of the local church as an agent for transformation and reconciliation as the bride of Christ.’
Dr Brown is married to Amy and is father to Hudson, Sahara and Keziah.