Rev. Dr. Clifford I. Johnson, president, called the meeting an “orientation retreat” for the 16 members of the newly restructured board, which has decreased more than half its original size following last year’s American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) bylaws changes. Johnson said he expects the board, in its new configuration, to have more opportunity for involvement than before. “The smaller size will allow us to be more engaged with each other as well as more collaboratively engaged with American Baptists and ABCUSA congregations,” he said.
Leading the spiritual development portion of the meeting was Rev. Dr. Jerry de Jesus, an American Baptist pastoral counselor in Orlando, Fla., whose remarks, “My Darkness, My Desert and My Deliverer: The Dilemma and the Way Through,” focused on Matthew 4. To make it through the “wilderness,” de Jesus said, we need to remember to whom we belong, along with the central message of the gospel—that Jesus Christ came to earth to reveal God to humanity, to reconcile human beings one to another and to redeem humanity by his ultimate sacrifice.
“Living Your Strengths,” a book from Gallup Press that guides discovery of “God-given talents,” was the cornerstone of the board’s work in identifying individual strengths. In small groups, members explored how their individual strengths will interface in the greater group’s dynamics, and how that interface can build a strong board. The scriptural foundation for the strengths-based development was Psalm 84:5-7.
Worship based on Psalm 121 closed the retreat with the message that Jesus Christ pulls us through the wilderness. When we are weak, we depend on God; it’s in that weakness that we find our strength.
ABHMS—the domestic mission arm of ABCUSA—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 USA 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.