Washington, D.C. Allan Boesak, South African anti-apartheid activist and celebrated theologian, will be the keynote speaker for the New Baptist Covenant luncheon at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s General Assembly in Atlanta, Ga., June 26 at 11:30 am.

The New Baptist Covenant is a movement started by President Jimmy Carter in 2007 to break down barriers of race, theology and geography among Baptists so that Jesus’ mandate in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke to proclaim good news to the poor and set the oppressed free can be realized.

Boesak, humanitarian and social justice advocate, serves as the Desmond Tutu Chair of Peace, Global Justice and Reconciliation Studies at Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Ind.

A world renowned theologian and a preeminent authority on liberation theology, Boesak was one of South Africa’s leading anti-apartheid activists. In the struggle against South Africa’s violent and oppressive apartheid system, Boesak worked closely with fellow anti-apartheid leaders Nelson Mandela and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

After establishing himself as a respected theologian, receiving his doctorate in theology from the Protestant Theological University in Kampen, the Netherlands in 1976, Boesak went on to become an influential leader in the worldwide ecumenical movement. At the age of 36, Boesak was elected president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, a fellowship comprised of more than 70 million Reformed Christians from more than 100 countries. With his election, Boesak became the youngest person, first African and the first person from the developing world to hold this position.  He was baptized as an adult by Dr. J. Alfred Smith Sr. at Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, Calif.

Boesak has received numerous awards for his efforts on behalf of justice and reconciliation and in recognition of his theological and humanitarian leadership, including the Robert Kennedy Human Rights Award, the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Award, Congressional Black Caucus Human Rights Award, the Roy Wilkins Civil Rights Award (NAACP) and the Honour Award from the Harvard University Foundation.

Many academic institutions from Yale University to Warwick University to Morehouse College have recognized Boesak with honorary doctoral degrees. Known for his powerful speaking, Boesak is a widely sought after preacher in many churches in South Africa, the United States and around the world.

A prolific author, Boesak has written nearly 20 books in addition to hundreds of articles on theology and cultural issues. His latest book, Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism, co-authored with Curtiss Paul DeYoung, examines the role of Jesus as a radical reconciler as well as the role of reconciliation in religious communities and in the wider society.

At the New Baptist Covenant luncheon, Allan Boesak’s address will be titled, “Chaos or Community: The Art of Reconciliation.”  He will share his experiences as an activist in South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement and discuss the church’s role in the work of reconciliation now.   

During this time, the NBC Covenant of Action teams will also share their experiences in working to bring reconciliation to our Baptist family and Luke 4:18-19 transformation to their communities. Last November, delegations of Baptist ministers from Atlanta, Birmingham, St. Louis and Dallas met at the Carter Center in Atlanta, GA to form Covenants of Action.  These covenants were all cross-cultural partnerships designed to advance Jesus’ Luke 4:18-19 dream of social reconciliation and transformation.

Baptist ministers from Atlanta representing, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Park Road Baptist Church and Greater Piney Grove Baptist church pledged to work together to, ”set at liberty those who are oppressed,” by improving literacy rates among youth in Atlanta.  The Birmingham delegation, comprised of the Baptist Church of the Covenant, Tabernacle Baptist Church and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Alabama, covenanted to, “preach good news to the poor,” by reducing childhood hunger in their city.  The St. Louis team, including Kirkwood Baptist Church, St. Lukes Memorial Baptist Church, and Harrison Ave. Missionary Baptist Church, planned to, “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,” by confronting poverty in St. Louis.  Dallas’s partnership, formed by Friendship-West Baptist and Wilshire Baptist Church, promised to “bring good news to the poor” by combat predatory lending in their community.  During the lunch, status reports will be given on these Covenants of Action.

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The New Baptist Covenant is an informal alliance of more than 30 racially, geographically, and theologically diverse Baptist organizations seeking to reconcile our Baptist family and to live into the mandates found in Jesus’ Luke 4:18-19 vision of healing and liberation.

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