Italian Baptists Sing Their Way Through 150 Years

Italian Baptists Sing Their Way Through 150 Years

Tony Peck - September 13, 2013

150 delegates gathered in the Baptist 'Taylor Institute' in a Rome suburb to celebrate the past, present and future of their life together. Music played an important part as hymns and song form the Reformation hymns to contemporary worship songs were featured.

An historical exhibition told the story of the Baptist work in Italy, beginning with Wall and Clarke, two pioneer missionaries of the British Baptist Missionary Society. The work then was transferred to the Southern Baptist Convention of the USA which helped to score the buildings and organisations since the 1950s the work has been self-supporting and came under the influence of then student movements and radical politics of the 1960s. All this gives Italian Baptists their unique blend of evangelical fervour combined with a deep concern for issues of peace and justice in society and in the world. They are very conscious of being 'nonconformists' in an overwhelmingly Roman catholic cultures in Italy, and this leads them to be quite liberal on some social-ethical issues. One striking feature of their life together is the number of ordained women who are in pastoral and national leadership. A booklet produced for the 150th Anniversary featured the stories of some of these women.

The Anniversary celebrations included inspiring and creative worship, challenging preaching, thought provoking seminars and different streams of music. Guess in clouded Regina Claas, a Vice president of the Baptist World Alliance, Karin Wiborn, a Swedish baptist who is General Secretary of the Christian Council of Sweden, and Tony Peck, General Secretary of the EBF. Those three took part in a well-attended seminar featuring the wider relationships of the Italian Baptists. The previous day was seminar considering the health of the 'BMW' – the Baptist, Methodist, and Waldensian churches who have worked closely together with an Agreement made between them in 1990,and is now in need of some renewal of its life.

As always, the eating together was an integral part of the celebrations. At one of these meals a special cake was cut by the Union President, Raffaele Volpe.

Italian Baptists number around 600 members in 120 churches.