Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair helped dedicate a Christian baptism center in Jordan on Friday. The construction was facilitated by King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein and Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammed.
Blair, who founded a faith foundation after leaving office, commended the Jordanian king and prince for their courage in actively supporting the Baptism Center at Bethany Beyond Jordan. The center is located approximately at the place where John the Baptist is believed to have baptized Jesus, according to the Baptist World Alliance.
King Abdullah had offered the plot of land for the Baptism Center in September 2007 during BWA President David Coffey's visit. Prince Ghazi is the chairperson of the Board of Trustees for the baptismal site.
"In dedicating this site, let us renew our faith in our God, our Lord, and in His message," Blair said, according to BWA.
During the dedication ceremony, Coffey read greetings from former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, both Baptists, and from prominent Baptist megachurch pastor and bestselling author Rick Warren. Coffey also presented a gift to Prince Ghazi n behalf of the BWA.
About 1,700 people attended the dedication and opening ceremony.
As part of the celebration, more than 120 people were baptized in the Jordan River on the same day by pastors from the Jordan Baptist Convention.
"Today, as we assemble by the Jordan… we unite to mark the opening and dedication of this Baptism Center – a place where people from all parts of the world may assemble for a journey and an experience," said BWA general secretary Neville Callam.
The BWA leader expressed hope that "the waters of the Jordan extinguish the crippling fires of hopelessness that burn in the hearts of those who have no knowledge of God."
Joined to the Baptism Center are buildings of other churches, including the Orthodox Church.
The Baptist World Alliance is a fellowship of 214 Baptist conventions and unions representing more than 37 million believers and a community of 105 million. The Alliance was founded in London, England in 1905 at the first Baptist World Congress.