The Baptist World Alliance General Council finalized the election of a new Baptist World Aid director and appointed a regional secretary for Africa during leadership meetings in Chile.

By Bob Allen

The Baptist World Alliance formalized appointments of two executive staff members July 6 during leadership meetings in Santiago, Chile.

bwa rothangiRothangliani Rema Chhangte, originally from India but who worked most recently for American Baptist Churches USA, begins Aug. 1 as director of Baptist World Aid, the BWA’s relief-and-development arm. She takes over for Paul Montacute, a former youth worker from Great Britain who retires at the end of July after 22 years with the Washington-based BWA.

bwa paulmontacuteMontacute was among several retiring BWA staffers honored during the organization’s annual gathering July 2-7 in the Chilean capital. He described his years at BWA as “the best of times.”

“There was never a day that was like the previous day,” Montacute said.

Chhangte’s appointment was made official by the General Council, one of several governing bodies within the 221-member body BWA. The council also ratified The November 2011 election of Duro Ayanrinola by formally appointing him as the BWA regional secretary for Africa. He was previously director of the Missionary Organization Department of the Nigerian Baptist Convention.

Chhangte was first approved for the Baptist World Aid post by the BWA executive committee last March. An ordained minister and former pastor, she has worked at a number of church-affiliated organizations over the years. Most recently she worked as liaison for Burmese refugees with American Baptist Home Mission Societies, the domestic mission arm of the ABC/USA.

“I am humbled by your vote of confidence and thank you and God for giving me this opportunity to be of service to Baptist churches around the world,” Chhangte told the council. “I look forward to working closely with all of you and partnering with you so that together we can make Baptist World Aid the premier relief and development agency for Baptists worldwide.”

Chhangte holds a master-of-divinity degree from Palmer Theological Seminary, an MBA degree from Eastern University and a bachelor’s degree from Bethel University, all in the United States. She also has diplomas from the Oxford Graduate Summer School of Theology in the United Kingdom and the Graduate School of Ecumenical Studies in Switzerland.

bwa palaciosThe General Council meeting also included presentation of the Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award to Edgar Palacios, a Baptist pastor form El Salvador recognized for peacemaking efforts during that country’s 1980-1992 civil war. Palacios, currently a pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., paid tribute to “the heroism and courage of hundreds of leaders of the Salvadorian people … who gave their lives and talents to achieve justice and peace.”

“I was only a servant,” Palacios told the roughly 300 Baptist leaders and delegates that had gathered from 40 countries around the world. “The Lord used me. With this award, the world Baptist family reaffirms its vocation for justice, the respect for human rights, and human dignity.”

In other business, BWA leaders adopted resolutions calling for increased attention to the problem of climate change and protesting violence targeted against Christian churches in Nigeria.

Based on reporting by BWA communications

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Burma refugee liaison is new BWAid director

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Washington minister to receive BWA human rights award