The International Fellowship
Unites Free Will Baptist churches from around the world for the purposes of identification, communion, and mutual edification and encouragement in order to better fulfill the Great Commission of evangelism and the establishment of churches among all peoples.
The International Fellowship of Free Will Baptist Churches is a community of Bible-believing churches that seeks to unite Free Will Baptist churches from around the world for the purposes of identification, communion, and mutual edification and encouragement in order to better fulfill the Great Commission of evangelism and the establishment of churches among all peoples.
The International Fellowship of Free Will Baptist Churches will serve as a center for the interchange of information and a forum for discussions which will permit us to:
- Discuss and seek solutions to ethical, practical, social, and doctrinal issues.
- Promote evangelism.
- Promote the development of theological training in each country.
A Brief History
In 1992, with the permission and encouragement of the Executive Committee of the National Association of Free Will Baptists, Executive Secretary Melvin Worthington approached Foreign Missions about an international consortium to consider an international organization of Free Will Baptists.
Working closely with Foreign Missions Director Eugene Waddell and Overseas Secretary Jimmy Aldridge, a meeting was planned for July 1992 at a Southern Baptist camp (Cresta del Mar) in Panama. Missionaries Steve Lytle and Stan Bunch planned the meeting, which was attended by representatives from Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Panama, The United States, and Uruguay. The meeting resulted in the “Panama Declaration,” a doctrinal statement accompanied by a statement of intent to move forward with organization.
In 1995, delegates met in Brazil and officially organized the International Fellowship of Free Will Baptist Churches, Inc. Members decided upon a triennial general assembly hosted by various member countries. John Poole (Brazil) was chosen as president and Daniel Dorati (Panama) vice president.
In 1998, the Fellowship met in Uruguay. In 2001, in the aftermath of 9/11, the executive committee (Daniel Dorati, president, Panama; Jose Manuel Parron, vice president, Spain; and Melvin Worthington, secretary-treasurer, United States) decided to postpone the meeting until October 2002. Delegates met at Camp Garner Creek, Dickson, Tennessee.
The Fellowship met again in 2004 in Panama City, Panama, with representatives from Brazil, Canada, Cotê d’Ivoire, Cuba, France, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Russia, Spain, The United States, and Uruguay. Delegates elected Jose Manuel Parron (Spain) as president, Gerardo Acevedo (Uruguay) vice president, and Steve Lytle (United States) as secretary-treasurer.
The 2007 general assembly will meet in Nantes, France October 8-12.
About Our Logo
The logo of the International Fellowship of Free Will Baptist Churches incorporates five symbols used by the earliest communities in Christendom: the ship, the fish, the anchor, the cross and the circle.
In the four corners of the ship's sail, the symbols of earliest Christianity are enhanced by modern emblems of a vital, living faith — the Holy Bible, the Loaf and the Cup, the Basin and the Towel, and Clasped hands—the historic symbols of Free Will Baptists.
The ship symbolizes the Church and represents all the members pulling in one direction, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Seeking to fulfill Christ's last command to the Church, Free Will Baptists unite in one purpose with one priority to proclaim the good news of the gospel throughout the world.
The fish, represented in the symbol by the space between the bottom of the sail and the top of the ship's body, is one of the most popular symbols for Jesus Christ. Many believe that it was a secret symbol which identified Christians during periods of persecution. The word "fish" in the first century Greek (ichthus) is an acrostic for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.
The anchor on the bow of the ship symbolizes the Christian hope of salvation, "the sure, strong and steadfast anchor of the soul."
The mast of the ship in the emblem forms the most familiar symbol in the history of the world, the cross—an instrument of execution and death turned into a worldwide emblem of hope and love by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The circle around the logo symbolizes the commitment of the International Fellowship of Free Will Baptist Churches to unite in extending the witness of Christ and the building of His Church throughout the world.
The Bible has always been at the heart of our life as Free Will Baptists, the centrality of the scriptures. Free Will Baptists adopt the Word of God as our only rule of faith and practice. We believe the scriptures to be inspired, inerrant, infallible and immutable.
The Cup and Loaf
The Cup and Loaf represent the Lord's supper, one of the gospel ordinances. This ordinance commemorates the death of Christ for our sins in the use of the bread which He made the emblem of His broken body and the cup the emblem of His shed blood. Participation in this ordinance expresses love for Christ, faith and hope in Him, and serves as a pledge of perpetual fidelity and faithfulness to Him.
The Basin and the Towel
The basin and the towel historically symbolize the service and outreach of the church, but for us it has an added significance of representing our practice of washing the saints' feet.
The Clasped Hands
The clasped hands symbolize many things to us: fellowship, brotherhood and the warmth of our faith. Perhaps the most important thing symbolized by the clasped hands is our commitment to reach out to people around the world with the good news.