EBF makes new Freedom of Religion Appointment

EBF makes new Freedom of Religion Appointment

EBF press service - July 01, 2018

The EBF is pleased to announce the appointment of Kieryn Wurts to the newly-created part-time position of EBF Research Assistant in Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB).

Kieryn has served for the past two years as a Pastoral Assistant in the Projekt:gemeinde, a Baptist community in Vienna, Austria. In that role she collaborated especially in the refugee integration work of the Austrian Baptist Union, and served a large Farsi-speaking community within the Projekt:gemeinde. She has contributed in the past two years to the ongoing advocacy for and community building among refugees throughout the EBF network. Kieryn will be transitioning out of Vienna to begin graduate studies at the University of Bonn in the MA-program entitled Philosophy of Religion/Interreligious Studies, concurrent to her new role as an EBF researcher.

Kieryn’s responsibilities in this new position will include researching and compiling reports to international organizations on the state of FoRB in EBF member countries, networking and collaborating with other organizations engaging in FoRB advocacy, and resourcing pastors, believers and congregations through education, information trainings, and workshops on their FoRB rights and responsibilities. She will collaborate with Christer Daelender and Shane McNary in this work, both of whom have made major contributions in FoRB advocacy in recent years. Daelender will receive the Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award at the BWA annual gathering this year.

Kieryn writes: ‘Freedom of religion and belief for all is a value vital to Baptist history and confession. It’s ever more important to engage governments and society on these issues in the current global climate; even as FoRB is a central tenant of international human rights agreements, more than three quarters of the world’s population live in contexts with high levels of religious persecution, discrimination, restriction, or social hostilities due to religion. This figure holds true also for global Baptists. We in the EBF see an opportunity to be peacemakers in the area of FoRB, as Christ calls us to be. There is also ample opportunity to resource and support those fighting for justice and/or suffering religious persecution in their various contexts. This new role as an EBF researcher will allow the EBF to more thoroughly “connect the dots” between those in local contexts, the latest research in FoRB, governments, and international institutions (i.e. the UN and OSCE) in the hope moving ever closer to the ideal of religious freedom for all, and freeing believers to follow Christ without hinderance or fear of retribution. A goal like this requires a network; Kingdom work in which the EBF is pleased to play a part.’

EBF General Secretary, Tony Peck, commented, ‘I am delighted to welcome Kieryn to her new part-time responsibilities in the EBF. This gifted young woman has already proved herself in her ability to conduct high quality research in issues of Freedom of Religion or Belief, (FoRB) and is a passionate advocate for it. FoRB is an ever more complex area in which careful research and evaluation, and also good collaboration with other agencies, is needed to be effective and really make a difference to the situation of those who are denied it in some way. Kieryn joins a strong and experienced EBF FoRB team of Christer Daelander and Shane McNary in supporting and resourcing our member Unions and their churches in this vital area, which of course is also a core value of our Baptist identity.’

Enquiries about the EBF’s work in FoRB can be directed in the first instance to Christer Daelaner at christer.daelander@equmeniakyrkan.se

Photo: Kieryn Wurts and Shane McNary in Geneva