SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO (ABNS 6/29/11)—At the June 28-29 meeting of the Board of American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), Executive Director Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins III and leadership team members introduced a strategic plan—developed through a process that involved feedback from constituents and partners—that will move the mission organization into the coming decade and beyond.
A major component of the plan focuses on revenue generation to support mission and ministry. Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Michaele Birdsall reported that, while ABHMS is strong financially, the plan proactively addresses a current over reliance on unrestricted reserve funds to balance the budget. The challenge, Birdsall said, is: “How do we live within our means and how do we adjust our ministry accordingly?” Ultimately though, she continued, “ABHMS needs to refrain from looking at ministry through a lens of scarcity, because we know that God will open up the way.”
In his introduction to the plan, which emphasizes development of sustainable funding sources, Wright-Riggins pointed out that after the Civil War, 80 percent of the organization’s resources were devoted to educating newly freed slaves, resulting in the establishment of Morehouse and Spelman colleges and Virginia Union and Shaw universities, among other educational institutions.
This was the clarion call in 1832 when The American Baptist Home Mission Society was founded, Wright-Riggins said. Today ABHMS faces different issues, Wright-Riggins said, asking: “How do we extend hope to children in poverty? How do we extend hope to those living without health care? How do we extend hope to those limited by the stained glass ceiling?”
ABHMS needs to “dare to do great things for God, because God has done great things for us,” said Wright-Riggins, and he challenged the board: “Would you help me offer hope to those who feel their lives are coming up a little short?”
Board members voted unanimously to affirm a resolution from the Baptist Churches of Puerto Rico to join efforts to address needs of the growing Latino population in the United States, estimated at 45 million people in the last census.
Wright-Riggins along with board Vice President Lois Chiles recognized leaders among board members for America for Christ giving. Beryl Hornberger received a certificate on behalf of First Baptist Church of Freemont, Kan., the highest giving church of board members’ congregations. For highest per capita giving, the Rev. David Gregg accepted a certificate on behalf of Grace Baptist Church, Chicago, Ill., and the Rev. James Calloway accepted a certificate on behalf of First Baptist Church, Junction City, Kan., for the largest year to year giving increase. During the meeting, Birdsall reported an upward trend in America for Christ giving, which was noted with gratitude.
Associate Executive Director for Missional Life and Leadership the Rev. Marilyn Turner, who presented an overview of ABHMS ministries, reported final results of the NEW LIFE 2010 initiative: The decade of commitment to this initiative realized close to 650,000 new disciples for Christ and more than 500 new church plants (which were viable for at least two years).
Turner announced a year-long discipleship study initiative that will be launched with publication of the 2012 Discipleship Planning Guide in November.
Also, Turner addressed the location change of the American Baptist National Gathering of Youth in 2012. Next year’s conference, IMMERSE (www.abhms-immerse2012.org), will be held in Washington, D.C., where youth will have opportunities to get involved in mission as well as advocacy in an election year.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies—the domestic mission arm of American Baptist Churches USA—ministers as the caring heart and serving hands of Jesus Christ across the United States and Puerto Rico through a multitude of initiatives that focus on discipleship, community and justice.
American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with 5,500 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.