Source: The National
The dedication of the the World Baptist Alliance’s new baptism centre at Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan last month was more than just an ordinary religious celebration.
For many of the country’s nearly 10,000 evangelicals, it was seen as a step towards governmental recognition of them as a Christian denomination in Jordan.
“We are very thankful. It is a generous gift from King Abdullah and clear evidence of the good trust and worthy relations between the Baptists and the leadership of Jordan,” said Nabeeh Abbassi, a Baptist pastor and a former president of the Jordan Baptist Convention.
A meeting between Baptist leaders and King Abdullah took place in Sept 2007, and in 2008 they were granted permission to have their own centre. The government donated the land to the Baptist Alliance and built the centre, which does not include a church like other Christian denominations have at the site.
The centre, which is not limited to Baptists, is on the Jordan River and features a wooden shelter that can accommodate 750 people in addition to changing rooms for religious pilgrims who come to be baptised in the same water they believe Jesus was baptised in almost 2,000 years ago.
The donation of the site was seen as a sign of goodwill for evangelicals, who lack a royal decree that officially recognises them as a non-Muslim minority. Although some evangelical groups have their own schools, they do not have their own court systems like the recognised Christian denominations.