American Baptist News Service (Valley Forge, Pa. 4/22/03)--In response toincreasing concerns regarding SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) inseveral parts of Asia, the Baptist World Alliance has postponed the 14thBaptist Youth World Conference until next year and rescheduled its 2003General Council venue from Seoul, South Korea, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.The youth gathering, originally planned for this July 16-20 in Hong Kong,will be held there instead Aug. 4-8, 2004. Emmett Dunn, director of the BWAYouth Department, expressed regret at the postponement but maintained thatthe decision was necessary "to protect the thousands of young people weexpected in Hong Kong and....allay the fears of many people who wereconcerned that the disease would not be under control by July." The WorldHealth Organization has issued travel warnings for several Asian countries;SARS has spread rapidly throughout South East Asia, and Hong Kong has beenparticularly hard hit.
Dunn said that hotels, travel agents and the convention center in Hong Kongall have promised to hold rates at their present levels. Those alreadyregistered are being encouraged by BWA to leave their deposits to guaranteetheir place for the 2004 gathering.
The BWA's 2003 General Council sessions, scheduled for July 7-12 in Seoul tocoincide with the Hong Kong youth event, have been rescheduled for Rio deJaneiro (originally the location for the 2004 sessions). The GeneralCouncil will hold its 2004 meeting in Seoul.
Additional information on the rescheduling is available by contacting JudyCampbell at the BWA: email@example.com; phone (703)790-8980; fax(703)893-5160.
The Baptist World Alliance, which will celebrate its centennial in 2005,includes 206 member bodies, including American Baptist Churches USA.
By Albert H. Lee