21Wilberforce to Participate in BWA Nigeria Commission on Religious Freedom Program

Baptist leaders from across the globe will soon gather on Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria to worship, pray, learn, build relationships, and collaborate through shared ministry. Programming includes plenaries, Bible studies, regional ministry updates, and small group reflections developed by 14 BWA Commissions. 21Wilberforce President, Wissam al-Saliby and Executive Director, John Gongwer, will attend the gathering and participate in one of the Commission on Religious Freedom workshops.

The Commission on Religious Freedom, co-chaired by André Simão (pictured at left), 21Wilberforce Ambassador for Latin America, and Shane McNary, Cooperative Baptist Field personnel, resources BWA Baptists in their advocacy to advance religious freedom for people of all faiths or no faith, especially Baptists who experience or are threatened by persecution. It develops theological resources, provides information on religious freedom issues, prepares reports and research papers, assists in direct advocacy, and empowers through training and mobilizing greater engagement in support of religious freedom.

“Religious freedom is a defining value of Baptists and advancing it globally is a central missional commitment of the BWA,” BWA General Secretary and CEO Elijah Brown said recently. “At a time when 30% of all BWA Baptists face the reality of war, persecution, and extreme hunger, the need is as great as ever.”




09 July (Tuesday), 16:00-18:00 Lagos time – hybrid     Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in Nigeria

Representatives from the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) ipcr.gov.ng – a peace and governance expertise hub under the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, driving peace-focused policies to intervene in conflict-affected areas – will share about efforts being made to prevent and counter violent extremism in Nigeria, challenges for peacebuilding, and offer insights on potential opportunities for the Baptist network to collaborate on peace efforts.

Moderator: Ambassador Kio Solomon Amieyeofori (MFR, former Deputy Director-General, Nigeria Intelligence Agency/NIA)

Invited Speaker: Dr. Joseph Ochogwu, Director General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution from the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; additional speakers to be announced

11 July (Thursday), 16:00-18:00 Lagos time – hybrid      Persecution and Peacemaking in Nigeria

These Nigerian religious and political leaders have become important voices on issues related to violence and peaceful coexistence issues. They will offer their perspectives on the ongoing persecution by militia terrorists, present local advocacy initiatives, and explore potential avenues for the Baptist network to strengthen, and collaborate on practical endeavors.

Moderator: Shane McNary (Cooperative Baptist Field Personnel)

Speakers: Rev. John Joseph Hayab (Country Director of the Global Peace Foundation and President of Christian Association of Nigeria, Kaduna), Imam Murtala Sulaiman Bamidele (Chief Imam of Mile One Diobu Central Mosque Port Harcourt, Rivers State Nigeria) and Rt. Honorable Bitrus Kaze.

12 July (Friday), 09:00-11:00 Lagos time – hybrid     Global Freedom Network – (GFN)Africa

This session will focus on 21Wilberforce (21W) and the Global Freedom Network (GFN)-Africa. GFN is a regionally-based religious freedom threat assessment and intervention system designed for the BWA to help mitigate threats in each region. Join us to find practical ways to support and get involved in the GFN initiative, which starts with Nigeria to be replicated in other regions.

Moderator: Dr. Dawari George (GFN Africa lead)

Speakers: Wissam al-Saliby (21Wilberforce President) and John Gongwer (21W Executive Director), Nigerian Baptist Convention representatives and the GFN-Africa team.