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Published on July 28th, 2015 | by ABCUSA

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IM Sets Course for the Future: Areas for Focused Growth Identified

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 7/28/15)—In a watershed vote that both affirmed the historical strengths of American Baptist International Ministries (IM) and propelled the global ministry into its third century, IM’s board of directors unanimously approved a new statement of vision and priorities, entitled Responding to the Call (RTC). The vote took place on June 25, 2015, at the IM board meeting in Overland Park, Kansas.

In a solid vote of confidence and commitment, IM’s Board of Directors resoundingly and decisively reaffirmed the core purpose that has guided IM for more than 200 years and that is stated in a fresh way in RTC:

IM works cross-culturally to invite people to become disciples of Jesus Christ, and to proclaim—through both word and deed—God’s reign of justice, peace and abundant life.

“IM has been overwhelmingly commissioned to remain faithful to our primary calling and to strengthen that mission by going further and deeper in several dimensions of work,” explained the Rev. Dr. Reid Trulson, IM executive director. “Today we begin addressing specific areas with renewed energy and creativity as we stretch toward the vision Christ offered in Matthew 6:10, ‘On earth as in heaven.’”

The four areas identified for focused growth in the coming years are:

  • Inviting People to Be Disciples of Jesus. IM will continue to engage in ministries of evangelism, discipleship and theological education, while also pursuing new opportunities in these areas.
  • Proclaiming God’s Reign of Justice, Peace and Abundant Life. IM will minister to immigrants and refugees, work for peace and justice, pursue the abolition of trafficking in persons and of global slavery, engage in education and economic development and focus on health and wellness.
  • Equipping the Body of Christ to Engage in God’s Mission. IM will promote mission “from everywhere to everyone,” provide opportunities for short-term mission engagement, inspire youth and young adults to grow as disciples of Jesus and offer training and capacity-building to partners around the world.
  • Pursuing Organizational Excellence. IM will attend to its financial health, ensure appropriate accountability, strive for technological advancement and improve its communication.

The vote of IM’s governing board came as a crucial step in its 18-month spiritual discernment process. The decision built upon the fruit of an extensive and intensive listening process, during which IM interviewed 1,800 people all around the world. Interviewees were invited to share both their experiences of God at work in the world and their hopes and dreams for the future of their own ministries and for the future of IM.

“This highly participatory process,” commented Trulson, “reinforced IM’s unwavering mission of inviting people to know and follow Jesus Christ as Lord, embodied in a wide range of holistic service and carried out in partnership with fellow servants of Christ everywhere. I am so thankful to God for all those who have contributed to this special bicentennial effort of spiritual discernment.”

A diverse 26-person Discernment Team was supported by a global prayer network as the team members studied, discussed and prayed together for God to speak to IM through the testimonies and vision of the larger body of Christ. The fruit of their efforts was captured in the RTC statement of vision, purpose, context, core values and focused growth areas.

The Rev. Dr. Reg Mills, president of the IM Board of Directors, stated, “The IM Board of Directors is delighted by the work of the Discernment Team members, whose backgrounds reflected the broad range of American Baptist life. We believe the team, guided by the Spirit, heard the voice of Christ speaking through the interviewees and weaved what they heard into a cohesive pathway for the future of International Ministries. We are very excited about the future to which God is calling us.”

The action of IM’s Board of Directors launches the second phase of the discernment process, during which RTC will be translated into an operational plan with specific objectives and tools for both measuring and enhancing progress on the ministry strategies identified in the discernment process’s first phase. This crucial work of phase two will be carried out over the next nine months.

For additional information on Responding to the Call, visit Responding to the Call online or contact karen.smith@internationalministries.org.

To join the prayer network for Phase 2 of Responding to the Call, contact Courtny.DavisOlds@internationalministries.org.
American Baptist International Ministries celebrated 200 years of ministry in 2014. American Baptist International Ministries (IM) was organized in 1814 as the first Baptist international mission agency in America. It began its pioneer mission work in Burma, (now called Myanmar) and today serves God through more than 1,800 short- and long-term global servants in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. Its central mission is to help people come to faith in Jesus, grow in their relationships with God and change their worlds through the power of the Spirit. It works with respected partners in over 70 countries in ministries that meet human need.

American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.


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