THE Convention Baptist Ministers Association (CBMA) will hold its 69th Annual National Assembly at Katipan Hall, Camp Higher Ground, Barotac Viejo, Iloilo on January 19-22, 2010 with the theme "Ministers as Leaders: Claiming and Leading the Nation."

This will be attended by over 700 participants coming from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

Apart from our traditional organizational activities, the forthcoming assembly will serve as reunion of respective theological institutions and a dialogue with auxiliary organizations and heads of institutions under the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.

There will also be a forum with national and regional government leaders and non-government organizations to establish partnership in community service and development towards nation building.

"We expect to clarify the role of pastors in nation building and other development endeavors and make a stand on the extent of our participation in the affairs of the nation," says Rev. Edwin Lariza, CBMA national president. Lariza noted that Baptist pastors have been active in working for change and development both within and outside the political system but, as an organization, quite mum about it. While there have been Baptist pastors in elected or appointed positions in the government, parliament of the streets, non-government organizations, grassroots organizing, international solidarity work, the parameters are not set yet. "We will assess our involvement in nation building and unite on accepted forms of struggle so that we can respect and support each other," Lariza added.

It is expected that after the assembly, the CBMA, as an organization will become more active in performing its role in development endeavors particularly involving the life of the nation.

The board of trustees in its recent meeting has already decided to continue with the Pilgrimage for Peace, as a response of local Christians to the universal call for peace especially during national elections.

It will be recalled that in May 2004, the first Pilgrimage of Peace -- Panay wide was spearheaded by the CBMA in partnership with Central Philippine University, Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches, and the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (Icon).

During the May 2007 elections, the pilgrimage covered the islands of Panay, Guimaras and Negros. It made short stopovers in every town to distribute voter's education materials and pray for peace with major stopovers on designated centers. The possibility of holding it nationwide on May 2010 elections will be one of the agenda of the forthcoming assembly.

The CBMA is national organization of Baptist Pastors serving the churches and institutions of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC). CPBC is the oldest Baptist organizational body in the Philippines.

Having its base in Western Visayas, the national body has been serving the whole country since 1935, currently with over 1,000 churches, a big university having attained autonomous status and two colleges with four theological institutions, two hospitals, and three community centers.

Its churches have respective extension programs and community outreaches including pre-school centers, elementary and secondary schools wherever they are located.