VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 6/26/11)—The delegates to the American Baptist Biennial meeting voted on and passed the proposed amendments to the bylaws of the American Baptist Churches USA in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Saturday, June 25. The announcement of the vote was made at the second discernment session on Sunday, June 26. The bylaws change will be effective January 1, 2012.
“The affirmation of the new bylaws amendments by 92% of the delegates is a strong base for moving forward into the new structure,” said A. Roy Medley, general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA. “The careful listening to the concerns expressed in Pasadena and the hard work to make the necessary revisions to the bylaws as proposed in Pasadena were critical steps in achieving this high level of consensus. We thank God for the collaborative work of the General Board and regional and national colleagues in crafting a document that was so strongly supported.”
“We are now poised to turn our focus fully on the two-year initiative, ‘Transformed by the Spirit,’ which we introduced on Friday evening at the Biennial,” said Medley. “These are all positive steps in a future that is as bright as the promises of God.”
The vote, taken at the discernment session on Saturday afternoon, was passed by a large majority of delegates after previous concerns were addressed. The bylaws did not pass in 2009 after a close vote by delegates at the American Baptist Biennial in Pasadena. A Bylaws Education Taskforce looked at the reasons that the bylaws did not pass, and worked for two years towards addressing the concerns in a revised version of the bylaws.
“I have worked on the committee to move towards the passing of these bylaws for almost two years, and am delighted that they passed this afternoon. I look forward to seeing the new and exciting changes that will take place within American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) around the new Mission Table format,” said Brenda Fluker, chair of the Bylaws Education Taskforce.
“As we focus on our mission and ministry together after passing the bylaws, it is going to take a lot of prayer, trust and teamwork to discern God’s path for our future,” said Patti Stratton, vice president of ABCUSA. “I believe this new framework will allow us to return to our congregational roots for the passion needed to move forward together in ministry.”
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.