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Baptism Center in Jordan to open in March

A service of dedication for the new Baptism Center in
Jordan will be carried out by leaders of a prominent Baptist
organization at its official opening on March 20, 2009.

The Center is located on the bank of the River Jordan
on land closely approximate to the region known as Bethany beyond
Jordan, where it is believed that John the Baptist baptized Jesus

“The opening of the Baptism Center is an answer to our
prayers and we express again our deep gratitude to King Abdullah for
the gift of the Center as a place of Christian worship and pilgrimage,”
said Baptist World Alliance (BWA) President David Coffey in a media

He added: “I hope that many Baptists and other
Evangelical Christians will visit the site as pilgrims and some will
choose to confess their faith in Jesus Christ in the waters of baptism.”

Coffey and BWA General Secretary Neville Callam will
lead the dedication service along with representatives of the Baptist
community in the Middle East and other dignitaries.

During the dedication, a plaque will be unveiled at the
entrance of the Center bearing the inscription, “The Commission of the
Site of the Baptism of Jesus Christ welcomes here in particular foreign
visiting pilgrims from the member churches of the Baptist World

The media release says the Baptism Center will be owned
and managed by the Baptism Site Commission of Jordan, and joins
buildings of many other denominations that have recently been
constructed on the official Baptism Site of Jesus Christ. The Center
will be available for use by all Christian traditions that practice
believer’s baptism by immersion.

The offer of a designated plot of land for a Baptism
Center was made by Jordan’s King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein in
September 2007 during Coffey’s visit with the leader. An agreement was
reached between Coffey, who visited the site in May 2008, and Jordan’s
Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammed, chairperson of the Board of Trustees for the
Baptismal Site, that the location would be used for the construction of
a Baptism Center to be dedicated and opened in the spring of 2009.

Nabeeh Abbassi, immediate past president of the Jordan
Baptist Convention, and Nabil Costa, European Baptist Federation Middle
East representative and executive director of the Lebanese Baptist
Society, also participated in the planning discussions. The Baptism
Center “is an act of appreciation for Christian presence in the
region,” said Costa.

“In a time of severe conflict in the Middle East, where
the numbers of Christians are rapidly declining, the opening of the
Center is a significant sign of tolerance and peaceful relations with
those of other faith traditions,” Coffey expalined.

The Jordan Baptist Convention has a membership of 20
churches with 1,200 members. In the five BWA member conventions in the
Middle East region, there are a total of 83 Baptist churches with 5,450

Other events are planned in Jordan prior to and following the dedication of the Baptism Center on March 20.

On March 19, the BWA will hold an informal meeting
between Baptist and Muslim scholars to discuss the BWA response to “A
Common Word Between Us and You,” a letter written by 138 Muslim
scholars and leaders. The BWA response is available on the BWA website
at interro_liens_callback?…

Following the dedication, on March 21, the European
Baptist Federation, the BWA regional fellowship for Europe and the
Middle East, will hold a conference of Bible teaching and fellowship
for Arab Baptist leaders from the Middle East.

© Assist News