Experiencing World Federation Sessions as a Delegate

Experiencing World Federation Sessions as a Delegate

May 22, 2017

by Canaan Phiri, new WF Vice President for Africa

“How good and how pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1)

True to the reflections of the Psalmist, I believe this should be the same feeling for each and every SDB once he or she tastes the Seventh Day Baptist World Federation (SDBWF) fellowship. I attended the SDBWF sessions for the first time in 2003 in Bocaiúva do Sul, Brazil; it left an indelible mark of experience on me and after that I wanted to keep attending the gatherings at every opportunity.

The current experience begins with my nomination by the Central Africa Conference (Malawi) Board to be one of the official delegates to the January 2017 Sessions in Curitiba, Brazil. I trusted God to take me through the hurdles of travel costs and obtaining a visa, and it happened. I was so thrilled to be part of the session which was also commemorating the 50th anniversary of the SDBWF, under the theme, “The Kingdom of God is like …”

If ever you had a feeling that you were alone and in a minority, after attending the WF sessions you got the conviction that you belonged to a big global family. I happen to be one who globe trots attending various conferences, workshops, and symposiums, both secular and religious in nature; however, I find the SDBWF unique. It is the feeling of belonging that makes me feel at home and freer at SDBWF sessions. Despite the diversity of our respective conference practices, there is always the basic principle and conviction that I am amongst my own SDB brothers and sisters.


Such gatherings enhance cohesion between regional fellowship groupings. Just imagine — I got to know my Zambian brother from just across the border at a meeting held overseas and thousands of miles away. Though seemingly awkward, it is the WF sessions that bring us together even as neighboring conferences and enable us to share ideas for outreach or further interaction. Indeed it was at such a gathering in 1992 that the Africa General Conference concept was born.

It is at such meetings, that we are able to learn from one another. Through the reports and informal interactions, delegates share best practices to the benefit of their conferences. WF attendees have brought back home some innovative ideas and systems. Through such formal and informal interactions, participants from different conferences have an opportunity to discuss, share, and debate controversial theological issues, thereby bringing alignment to each other, consequently enhancing our identity as SDBs. At the SDBWF, participants are able to share project concepts through which God has been able to move passion in some conferences or individuals, to support God’s work in conferences other than their own.

Above all and most important, the SDBWF offers SDBs time of fellowship with one another. The meetings are like a retreat that takes attendees away from their daily occupations and offers them time to be at the feet of Jesus and closer to God through Bible studies and prayer. Coming from diverse linguistic cultures and with various skin pigments, we praise God in our various languages and styles thereby bringing to life the Acts 2 Pentecostal experience. Certain common hymns could be sung each one in his or her language giving a blend best understood by the Almighty only. It also offers the opportunity to experience and, where possible, learn from the hosting conference through attending their conference gathering and visiting local churches to experience their style of worship. Upon returning from the SDBWF our faces radiate like that of Moses when he was coming from Sinai where he had met the Almighty.

Clip to Evernote