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BWA & the 21Wilberforce Global Freedom Center

About Us

Partnering for Impact

21Wilberforce
and the BWA

The 21Wilberforce Global Freedom Center  (21Wilberforce) is a Christian human rights nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the growing global need to protect and advance the fundamental and universal right to freedom of religion, belief, and conscience (FoRB). In March 2020, 21Wilberforce joined with the Baptist World Alliance to facilitate the global BWA church network and its member churches to stand with, advocate for, and tangibly support people and communities that are threatened or are being persecuted because of their religious faith, practice, or conscience.

Working Globally to Advance Freedom of Religion, Belief, and Conscience

  • Online digital knowledge, lessons-learned and best practices, online training and facilitated web-based mentoring, and advocacy and direct-action tools and resources. Includes gallery and spotlighted examples of Global Impact Partner initiatives.
  • Regular Alerts and information on important global IRF news/events.
  • Training of a young leader/representative of the Partner organization in developing and coordinating global religious freedom engagement at the partner organization/faith community.

  • Church and other partner toolkits with resources for member engagement. Includes information and materials for the Speak Freedom/International Day of Prayer.
  • Identify opportunities and facilitate dynamic partnerships between churches and other Impact Partners in the West and their counterparts in countries that have religious restrictions and persecution.

Mobilize & Empower

Global Impact Partners

21Wilberforce works with the BWA to recruit BWA network churches and other member organizations as Global Impact Partners to engage their memberships in FoRB advocacy and the defense and active support of those around the world who suffer for their faith. Programs, training, and resources are tailored according to partners’ needs and desired level of engagement.

Training, Equipping and Empowering

Let us help you empower your network and organizational membership: Advocacy Training, Network Activation, Strategic Communications, and Leadership Coaching.

what is required?

Impact & results-based actions

21Wilberforce knows advancement of religious freedom depends on engaging, empowering, and facilitating grassroots initiatives and collaboration among individuals and organizations and in consultation with the intended beneficiaries. We seek to be servant leaders in enabling and empowering others, facilitating results-based solutions, partnership programs, and coordinated coalition-based actions.

Religious Freedom Leadership Education and Advocacy Training

21Wilberforce provides practical, hands-on education and training in IRF advocacy and leadership for young “emerging leaders”, activists, and organizational leadership of local faith communities in religiously restricted countries. We also develop and deploy IRF leadership education, advocacy training materials (such as the IRF Congressional Scorecard), and campaign toolkits for activists, policy decision-makers, and faith communities.

Development of Collaborative Partnerships, Coalitions, and Local Initiatives

21Wilberforce works collaboratively to 1) increase the capacity of partner organizations and coalitions, and 2) help launch and develop sustainable, high-impact, and scalable programs and initiatives that support, advocate for, and seek justice on behalf of threatened and persecuted believers and faith communities.  Toward that end, we have convened communications strategy sessions, trained partners on how best to collaborate with legislators, shaped policy-changing narratives with persecuted people, and provided useful tools and resources.

Advocacy representation

21W works with the BWA to represent and help coordinate efforts and communication with the global network at the United Nations.
Its team now has U.N. credentials to work alongside other BWA delegates in representing the BWA on issues of international religious freedom and human rights. 21W also works with BWA organizations in representing the BWA and coordinating the BWA network’s advocacy engagement with the U.S. Government and in civil society forums in Washington, D.C.
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Defending Prisoners of Conscience

We focus on combining international and host-country advocacy with practical assistance to individuals unjustly imprisoned in various countries because of their faith or beliefs.
Recently, in Nepal 21Wilberforce worked with the BWA to advocate for the release of a non-Baptist Christian pastor, whose supporters approached the BWA for help when the pastor was arrested on trumped-up charges. 21W took the lead in connecting Nepali pastors and advocates with the U.S. State Department, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and the U.N. Human Rights Council to help bring international attention to his unjust imprisonment. 21W drafted and coordinated a recommendation to the UN Council on its religious freedom report on Nepal, and then tapped its network to help find and apply for monetary support for the pastor’s many legal expenses.
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Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Award

21Wilberforce annually presents the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom (IRF) Award to an outstanding role-model and leader that has significantly advanced global religious freedom. This annual award is named after former Congressman Wolf, one of 21Wilberforce's founders and a decades-long champion in Congress for religious freedom, and after whom the U.S.'s landmark 1988 International Religious Freedom Act was named and then signed into law. The BWA and other BWA-affiliated organizations were primary sponsors of this event.

21W Regional Ambassadors: Connecting needs with resources/assistance

In 2020, 21Wilberforce began recruiting and engaging Ambassadors for each of the six BWA global regions. These 21W Ambassadors will work with regional Baptist denominations, organizations, and churches in helping identify and meet the needs of churches and members facing religious restrictions or persecution.

21Wilberforce
Regional
Ambassadors

Working with churches and people of faith in regions around the world to match local needs with network resources & solutions. 

Promoting Mutual Respect and Collaborative Problem-Solving

International FoRB Roundtables & Forums

From Respect to Collective Action

21Wilberforce represents the BWA and its member interests at the International Religious Freedom Roundtable (IRFR), a NGO-led civil society assembly that collaborates with the IRF Office at the State Department and meets weekly on Capitol Hill.

The IRFR functions as a convening forum for groups from multiple faiths, sectors, and ideologies to work together to address IRF challenges combining practical policy discussions, coordinated action, and solutions development between civil society, government, and multilateral organizations. It has attracted representatives of 250 organizations, has launched more than 100 multi-faith initiatives, and is currently helping launch a growing number of affiliated roundtables in key locations worldwide.

In the last several years 21Wilberforce has played a growing leadership and facilitation role in related IRFR activities:

Capacity Building

Accelerated by challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, 21W works with IRF Roundtable leadership to expand the operational digital capacity of the IRFR and provide a web-based online platform for coordinated collaborative advocacy actions by IRFR members and the religious freedom community. 21W provides the online forum where hundreds of faith leaders and advocacy representatives in the U.S. and overseas meet weekly with the U.S. Ambassador and other U.S. government representatives. In 2020, over 900 individuals from around the world have participated in these weekly forums.

Global Center of Excellence

In late 2020 21W began the first phase of designing and building an online Global Center of Excellence for roundtables and government and civil society alliances and networks around the world.

IRFR Leadership

21W has served as Vice Chair of the IRF Roundtable, serves on the Roundtable's Steering Committee, currently co-chairs a number of the forum's working groups (e.g., Congressional Working Group), and helps coordinate and actively participates in other IRFR working groups (e.g., United Nations Working Group, Criminal Justice Working Group).

Global Roundtable Network Development

Currently working with the IRFR organizers and the U.S. State Department's Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom to support the development of dozens of coordinated religious freedom roundtable forums around the world.

Global Ministerials to Advance FoRB

In 2020, for the third straight year, 21Wilberforce worked with the IRFR and State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom to help coordinate civil society aspects of the third Annual Global Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB),
bringing together government and civil society leaders from around the globe to participate in virtual plenary sessions and side events.
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Knowledge for Action

Online Platforms & Resources

21Wilberforce is currently developing a number of integrated online digital websites and resource platforms that equip global faith-based networks, advocacy organizations, and the FoRB community with resources, training, and tools to support persecuted communities, challenge repression, and expand freedom of religion and belief.

Online Freedom Center

The central component of this integrated resource framework is the online 21Wilberforce Freedom Center. This flagship online platform informs and prepares stakeholders to take effective action with a curated library of resources (e.g., reports, data/stats, how-to guidance, relevant U.S.
and international law policies, campaign strategies, communication tools, etc.), training and education platforms, and online action tools (e.g., media campaigns, direct advocacy, fundraising). This powerful resource helps users inform stakeholders, makes their voice heard, and allows them to actively make a difference in a seamless experience.
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Global Data (Countries & Issues)

Beta site of the Global Data Dashboard, curated knowledge on countries and issues related to global freedom of religion, belief, and conscience (commonly referred to as FoRB).