Baptist Convention Celebrates 50 Years with Grand Anniversary Commemoration

Baptist Convention Sierra Leone (BCSL).jpg

By Foday Moriba Conteh

In a momentous occasion held on Sunday 28th April 2024 at the BCSL Conference Center in Lunsar, the Baptist Convention Sierra Leone (BCSL), has concluded its 50th Golden Jubilee Anniversary celebration in a grand style. The commemoration, which spanned from the  23rd to 28th April 2024 was witnessed by Convention Officers, Executive Members, Former Leaders of Convention, esteemed guests from the United States of America, United Kingdom, Germany, Finland, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Heads of Churches, etc.

Welcoming the gathering on the official opening ceremony of the 50th year anniversary, the Paramount Chief of Marampa Chiefdom, Port Loko District, Chief Bai Koblo Queen II, expressed gratitude to the Baptist Convention Sierra Leone for their remarkable 50 years of dedicated and God-directed service, which has greatly contributed to the development of his chiefdom and the nation as a whole.

He hailed the gathering as a momentous occasion, highlighting the significant milestone of the Baptist Convention reaching its 50th anniversary. He emphasized the profound impact of that achievement, particularly noting the extensive infrastructural development within the BCSL Conference Center in Lunsar.

Despite encountering various challenges, he expressed satisfaction in acknowledging the substantial positive influence of the Baptist Convention, not only within his chiefdom but across the entire country. He mentioned the establishment of over 150 churches nationwide, along with 49 primary schools, 14 secondary schools, health centers, vocational institutions and other initiatives, underscoring the Convention’s broad-reaching impact on society.

In his address, Rev. Dr. Joseph S. Fornah, the Executive President of the Baptist Convention Sierra Leone (BCSL), expressed immense joy and profound gratitude, reflecting on the remarkable journey of the Baptist Convention Sierra Leone over the past five decades.

He acknowledged the pivotal role of faith, resilience and unwavering commitment in shaping the organization’s growth and impact highlighting the significant achievements of the BCSL over the years,

Rev. Dr. Joseph S. Fornah emphasized the expansion of educational initiatives, healthcare services, pastoral and teaching staff and the acquisition of properties nationwide, underscoring the convention’s dedication to building God’s kingdom and serving communities across Sierra Leone.

Looking towards the future, Rev. Dr. Fornah outlined the vision and strategic priorities of the Baptist Convention Sierra Leone for the next 50 years.

He emphasized the importance of capacity building, mission and church planting, discipleship and mentoring, investment and sustainability, cooperation and stability, and spirituality as guiding principles for the organization’s continued growth and success.

In conclusion, Rev. Dr. Fornah expressed gratitude for the blessings of the past fifty years and called for a rededication to the mission of spreading God’s love and compassion. He invoked divine blessings upon the Baptist Convention Sierra Leone, affirming faith in God’s providence for the journey ahead.

President of the Baptist World Alliance, Rev. Dr. Elijah Browne, praised the remarkable impact of the Baptist Convention in the country, emphasizing its generational significance beyond the 50th anniversary.

He commended the Convention’s establishment of schools across various regions, noting their transformative effect on families and their contribution to hope and education.

Rev. Browne applauded the Baptist Convention Sierra Leone for their commendable work over the years.

On his part, Elias Apetogbo, the General Secretary of the All-African Baptist Fellowship expressed gratitude for the milestone event, reflecting on the significance of the celebration and highlighted it as a time for both reflection and forward-thinking, emphasizing the achievements of the past and the challenges ahead.

He commended the leadership of the Sierra Leone Baptist Convention for organizing the successful celebration and extending invitations to international guests, emphasizing the strong collaboration between the Sierra Leone Baptist Convention and the All-African Baptist Fellowship, citing examples of active involvement and commitment from various members, including Rev. Joseph S. Fornah, the Executive President of the Baptist Convention Sierra Leone (BCSL), and others.

Regarding the future direction of the Sierra Leone Baptist Convention, Apetogbo encouraged a global outlook, urging the Convention to consider sending missionaries beyond Sierra Leone’s borders. He emphasized the importance of thinking globally and expanding the Convention’s mission outreach.

Rev. Dr. Jari Portaankorva, President of the Finnish Baptist Union, Finland, expressed joy for being present in Sierra Leone for the celebration, stressing the special relationship between the two organizations dating back to 1974 when missionaries from Finland first arrived in Sierra Leone.

Rev. Dr. Jari Portaankorva praised the Baptist Convention’s commitment to preaching the gospel and promoting development work, particularly emphasizing their positive relations with other religions, notably Muslims. He also expressed gratitude for the support and guidance received from Rev. Moses Kanu, highlighting his instrumental role in Rev. Dr. Jari Portaankorva’s doctoral studies.

Reflecting on past collaborations and projects, Rev. Dr. Jari Portaankorva spoke fondly of the Finnish Union’s involvement in supporting school repairs and providing scholarships for teachers in Sierra Leone.

Despite the challenges faced, he expressed gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to the Baptist Convention’s work and reaffirmed the Finnish Union’s commitment to continuing their partnership in the future.

Jeremy Newborn, the West Africa Regional Leader for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in the United States, shared insights and reflections on the longstanding partnership between the two organizations.

Newborn, who is based in West Africa, expressed the Southern Baptist Convention’s deep-rooted history of collaboration with the Baptist Convention Sierra Leone. He emphasized the importance of celebrating this history and partnership by actively participating in the anniversary festivities.

Highlighting the extensive collaboration between the two organizations, future, Jeremy Newborn, mentioned various projects undertaken over the years, including literacy training, medical initiatives, pastoral formation and church planting. He underscored the shared mission of both organizations to spread the gospel and strengthen the church, emphasizing their aligned vision and goals.

Reflecting on the impact of their collaboration, Newborn cited instances of humanitarian response, such as providing aid during the mudslide in Freetown and various community development projects.

He also shared personal anecdotes of encountering Sierra Leonean Baptist communities in other West African countries and collaborating with them to spread the gospel.

Jeremy Newborn emphasized the importance of Sierra Leonean Baptists taking a more active role in global missions. He highlighted the Southern Baptist Convention’s willingness to share its experience and resources to support Sierra Leonean Baptists in this endeavor.

In conclusion, Newborn encouraged unity among Sierra Leonean Baptists and emphasized the significance of discipleship and giving back to the global community. He celebrated the joyous spirit of the celebration and offered words of encouragement for continued growth and collaboration in the years to come.

Other stakeholders including the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone, Pastor Christoph Paterson of Lunenbrug Baptist Church, Director Karen Smith from the American Baptist International Ministries, Grenna Kaiya, Program Manager at European Baptist Mission International, Rev. Lajos from the Hungary Baptist Union and Rev. Dr. Samuel Reeves Jr. from the Liberia Baptist Convention, as well as Executive Presidents from various conventions including Liberia and Ghana, also delivered statements.

The climax of the weeklong 50th anniversary celebration was marked by a thanksgiving service, during which Rev. Dr. Israel Akanji, Executive President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, who also doubles as the President of the All-Africa Baptist Fellowship, delivered a powerful sermon on the theme: “Encouraging Members of the Conversation to Always be Steadfast and Diligent in Serving the Lord.”


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