APBF Foundational Years
The Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, which started as Asian Baptist Fellowship was founded in Hong Kong on Nov. 16, 1972.
As Baptists in the Asia Pacific, it is important to know that APBF (ABF then) was formed as Asian Baptist Fellowship on November 16, 1972 in Hong Kong. The Australian Baptist, a news magazine of the Baptist churches in the issue of December 6, 1972 reports 18 groups from the region 'shared the historic decision' on November 16th of 1972. Australia, Bangladesh, Republic of China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore attended the historic meeting. New Zealand, Philippines, Macau, Vietnam, Thailand send their observers to support the formation of the Asian Baptist Fellowship.
Vision and Establishment of the Asia Baptist Federation
Extracts from Rev Alan Prior's first message to the Fourth Asian Baptist Congress in Singapore, July 17-22, 1992:
"The Asia Baptist Federation was born out of a vision and conviction shared by a number of Baptist leaders in the region which came to formulation at the Twelfth Baptist World Alliance Congress, held in Tokyo in 1970. There and then those leaders who had discussed the possibility and had corresponded about it decided to present the proposal to the Congress for endorsement. At the time the only regions which had such Federations were the European and the North American regions."
The Congress also appointed a Provision Committee for Asia and gave it authority to process the organisation of the Region. The members of the Committee were: Daniel Cheung (Hong Kong); Sam Choy (Korea), Glen Gano (Japan); A.E. Masa (Philippines); B.R. Moses (India); Alan Prior (Australia); Hugh Smith (Hong Kong); Willie Wickramasinghe (Sri Lanka); David Y.K.Wong (Hong Kong).
The Provisional Committee asked Alan Prior to visit, as far as possible, all the Baptist Unions, Conventions, etc. within the Asian and Pacific areas to promote the proposal and win support for it. This he did during the following three years, enjoying rich fellowship of our people in many countries and of many races and cultures and finding strong support for the opportunity of Asian unity. The times were right for the venture. The growing strength and independence of Asian countries, linked with increasing awareness of interdependence, underlined the need for our greater and deeper Baptist unity.
Up to this time there had been no real regional Baptist unity. Different Baptist groups, had, in some instances, links with one another through a common missionary origin, but in many places this did not exist. Often Baptists in a country did not have awareness and, and certainly did not have fellowship, with others who were fellow citizens. There were many problems to be overcome, but it was certain that the fellowship and unity were deeply desired. The Secretary [Alan Prior] seized every opportunity to present the proposal to the individuals, small groups, committees, assemblies, conventions, anywhere that could be reached.
By 1974 it was clear that a move should be made to formulate a presentation to the next BWA Congress, to be held in Stockholm in 1975. On 1 December a consultation took place in Hong Kong. It was attended by more 50 representatives of 21 member bodies of the region who had already applied for membership in the Federation. It was supported also by the presence of Dr. V. Carney Hargroves, President, and Dr. R.S. Denny, Secretary of the BWA. The consultation resolved to report to the Stockholm Congress and to formally request that the Asian Baptist Region be constituted. At the time it was described as the Asian Baptist Fellowship, but subsequently the title was changed to Asian Baptist Federation, thereby joining the Baptist World Alliance in 1975 as a regional body of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA).
The Asia Pacific Baptist Federation
The ABF changed its name with the addition of 'Pacific' and became to be known as the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation when It adopted its current name in 2007 after a resolution was approved during the ABF Congress held in the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand from 2 May - 6 May 2007.
As a region of the BWA, it was necessary under the constitution of the Alliance that the Federation should be served by an Associate Secretary of the Alliance. The Congress appointed Alan C. Prior to be the first Associated Secretary for Asia. Which office he would fulfill until 1980. Dr. W. G. Wickramasinghe of Sri Lanka was elected to the office of the first President of the Federation.
Rev Alan Prior, who previously was a Vice President of the BWA from 1960-65, was Secretary from 1970-80 of what was to be called the Asia Baptist Federation. It was recognized that without his initiative and drive and sheer hard work the APBF would not have been established.
The following are the General Secretaries of ABF now APBF:
- Rev. Alan Prior from Australia (1970-1980).
- Rev. Edwin Lopez from the Philippines (1980-97).
- Rev. Bonny Resu from India (1997-2017).
- Rev. Dr. Vesekhoyi Tetseo from Japan (2017 - Present).