21Wilberforce has launched a new initiative called “Timothy Fellows” for young Baptist professionals and students around the world. Currently, five of six regions within the Baptist World Alliance are represented and the first ten Fellows hail from the Benin, Brazil (2), Bulgaria, Germany, Ghana, Honduras, Nigeria, United Kingdom and the U.S.
21Wilberforce President Randel Everett and Trent Martin, 21W Advocacy and Training Coordinator are leading the emerging leader cohort. This is three-year training program designed to help the Fellows gain a deeper understanding of religious persecution and effective means to challenge oppression in their communities. Training will focus on:
- learning best practices for transformational leadership
- becoming informed about the foundational right of religious freedom for all people
- understanding historic Baptist positions on religious freedom
- identifying communities of concern who are facing religious oppression
- developing and implementing strategies for defending the persecuted
- providing resources for challenging unjust laws and practices
The cohort first met at the BWA Annual Gathering in Birmingham, Alabama in July of 2022 where they attended sessions led by a wide range of speakers, including a Nigerian parliamentarian, an Indian pastor, and an American grassroots activist. The 21Wilberforce team instructed the fellows on effective leadership and advocacy strategies in lectures and interactive workshops throughout the week.
For the first phase of the program, the fellows are going to virtually work together on a project to map the opportunities and challenges for religious freedom in their regions. This research will equip them with a deep knowledge of religious freedom so they can be more effective leaders on the issue. They will also be able to share this research with other Baptist leaders to spark increased engagement on these issues.
Their virtual bi-monthly meetings will feature experts that will broaden their knowledge of religious freedom, advocacy skills, and leadership abilities in interactive discussions. The cohort will meet once a year in person at the annual BWA Conference held in different locations around the world.