VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 4/13/12)—The National Leadership Council (NLC) of American Baptist Churches USA met from April 10-13, 2012, at the Sheraton Suites in Orlando, Florida. This was the first official meeting of the NLC since the new denominational bylaws went into effect on January 1, 2012 after being passed at the June 2011 Biennial in Puerto Rico.
The NLC is the largest staff council of the denomination, where senior executive staff of the regional and national organizations of American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) meet to strengthen relationships, to discuss its mission and ministry, and advance the common good of the denomination. The president of ABCUSA has become a member of the NLC, formerly known as the General Executive Council.
Following the meeting, Ruth Clark, president of ABCUSA said, “It was my joy as president to meet with our regional executive ministers and the leadership of our national partners as we gathered in Orlando this week to pray together, hear about what our colleagues are doing in ministry, and renew the covenant relationship we share. Having the opportunity to meet face to face and talk about the needs and joys of our churches and denomination is energizing and encouraging. I am grateful to have this time to build relationships with these committed partners in ministry.”
Two new regional executive ministers were introduced at the meeting; Rev. Soozi Whitten Ford, executive minister of American Baptist Churches of Indiana/Kentucky, and Rev. Dale Edwards, executive minister of the American Baptist Churches of Vermont and New Hampshire.
The NLC heard an update about Transformed by the Spirit, a denomination-wide initiative endorsed by the National Executive Council (NEC), which is made up of the leaders of the four major program boards and American Baptist Women’s Ministries. The NLC also heard reports from the national boards and the president of the Regional Executive Minister’s Council (REMC).
On the final day, the NLC received an update about the Mission Summit/Biennial, which will occur June 21-23, 2013, in Overland Park, Kansas. The Biennial event will include celebrations of the 200th anniversary of Adoniram and Ann Judson’s arrival in Burma, and the 375th anniversary of the founding of the First Baptist Church in America. The Mission Summit will also highlight the Transformed by the Spirit initiative and the ongoing denominational journey associated with it.
Mission Summit 2013 will be an opportunity for attendees to identify major ministry challenges, share ideas and information with other American Baptists, and become transformed by what the Spirit is leading American Baptists to do in their churches and communities.
The NLC is made up of the regional executive ministers, representatives from ABHMS, IM, and MMBB—(executive directors and three others), the general secretary and three staff members, the executive directors of the Associated Ministry Organizations (American Baptist Women’s Ministries, Ministers Council, American Baptist Assembly, American Baptist Extension Corporation, Interim Ministries-ABC, and American Baptist Foundation), a member from the American Baptist Historical Society, and the president of ABCUSA.
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.