Elijah Brown, executive vice president of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, was elected to serve as the next General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance. Brown is the first Texas Baptist to serve in this capacity, and at the age of 36, the youngest person to be elected to the position. The election took place on July 7 at the BWA General Assembly held in Bangkok, Thailand.
“I am deeply honored and humbled to become the ninth General Secretary of the BWA, an organization that has borne witness to Jesus Christ and the reality of one Lord, one faith and one baptism since 1905,” said Brown. “Over the last 10 years, Dr. Neville Callam has laid a strong foundation. The future remains bright for the BWA as we continue to work for justice, especially religious freedom, mission and theological reflection, and calling forward transformative leaders among the next generation. This is an opportunity for each church and each individual to partner with the BWA and lean into their calling to be a global witness in an age of globalization.”
The Baptist World Alliance is a fellowship of 238 Baptist unions and 124 countries and territories, representing 40 million Baptists worldwide. Brown was selected in 2007 by BWA as one of 35 emerging global leaders and has remained active in service with BWA throughout his career.
Chris Liebrum, director of Texas Baptists’ Office of Cooperative Program Ministry, was on the BWA selection committee that recommended Brown for the position. Liebrum first met Brown 10 years ago when he served as the director of the emerging leaders group.
“Dr. Brown possesses three unique qualities which made him stand out to our selection committee,” Liebrum said. “He has a world-class Christian education, having studied at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland; he has a worldwide network of relationships; and he brings a mature youthfulness.”
Brown will continue to serve as Executive Vice President for the Wilberforce until the end of 2017, when he will begin his new role as General Secretary.
Randel Everett, president of 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative said, “Dr. Brown’s appointment will give him an opportunity to bring his passion for international religious freedom and other justice issues to a global stage as he challenges churches to be a voice for the voiceless. Our organization will continue to work closely with the BWA and other international religious bodies to help achieve this goal.”
While serving with the Wilberforce Initiative, Brown was the primary writer of Edge of Extinction, a report on the genocide among Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, and Fractured and Forgotten, a report on the atrocities of religious persecution in Northern Nigeria.
Brown also founded the Freedom Center at East Texas Baptist University, where he served as Associate Professor of Missions prior to joining the Wilberforce Initiative.
“While at ETBU, Dr. Brown was a tireless Christian advocate who called students, faculty and staff to speak for those Christians who have no voice here in Texas and across the world. Those who know him will not be surprised his career and calling have led him to this strategic role for Baptists,” said Dr. Thomas Sanders, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at ETBU.
“I am really excited that we have a leader for BWA who is a product of Texas Baptists’ institutions and Cooperative Program giving,” Liebrum said. “Elijah Brown is a great example of the work that is made possible through Texas Baptists giving.”