Dr Billy Jang Hwan Kim, a South Korean Baptist pastor likely to be elected president of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), has called for Baptists to play a greater role in solving ethnic and religious conflicts, particularly those involving Christians.

On January 8, unless there is a last minute challenge, the eighteenth Baptist World Congress, meeting in Melbourne, will officially elect Dr Kim, a 64-year-old broadcaster and pastor, as its president. He will be the first Korean to be elected to the post, which he will hold for the next five years, until the 2005 congress of the BWA, which represents 80 percent of the world's Baptists.

His church, the Korea Baptist Convention, is a relatively small organization within South Korea, with about 600,000 members in a total population of 42 million. The main Protestant churches in South Korea are the Presbyterian and Methodist churches.

Dr Kim's election was recommended last July by the BWA's general council, meeting in Dresden, Germany, and he is the sole candidate who will be presented to the congress January8. In theory he could be challenged from the floor of the meeting, but this is highly unlikely to occur.

Many of the BWA president's duties are ceremonial, but he—all presidents thus far have been males—plays a key role in directing the organization, in representing it in meetings with government leaders, and in speaking out on issues of justice and human rights.

Asked, during an interview with Ecumenical News International (ENI), about his main focus as president, Dr Kim said he wanted to promote the unity of Baptists around the world, particularly their role in helping to solve ethnic and religious conflicts. He singled out violence in Indonesia and in India where members of ...

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