VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 11/1/12)—At its meeting in October, the Board of Directors of American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) unanimously affirmed a motion to reinstate the commissioning of home missionaries and heard about the organization’s 2013 strategic ministry plans from Executive Director Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins III.
The motion to reinstate home missionary commissioning was based on ABHMS history: One of its earliest mission societies was founded to preach the gospel, establish churches and minister among the destitute. Wright-Riggins said that ABHMS stands committed to bringing God’s Good News on today’s frontiers to new generations seeking God’s healing grace and truth. The new configuration of the American Baptist Churches USA board, Wright-Riggins said, necessitates that ABHMS establish its own commissioning process. Details about the new process will be available shortly at www.abhms.org.
The Rev. Garth Brokaw, a director, said the motion regarding this “dynamic program” was significant. “This is tied to our roots,” he said. “I am glad to see this re-established. This is a great legacy that was allowed to lapse.”
In his report to the board, Wright-Riggins shared three organizational ministry priorities developed for 2013.
1. Launch a collaborative that focuses on lifelong learning and deepening people’s calls: This Christian lay academy would provide learning in face-to-face as well as virtual settings. At the end of November, ABHMS will convene approximately 40 people in a Future Search process aimed at determining how its resources (human and technological) can be used to provide information to people in the pew to enhance their walks with God.
2. Launch initiatives that address the church and 18-29 year olds—“the black hole of church life”: Wright-Riggins said these young people are the missing persons in our congregations, and we must prioritize programs to keep them in our churches. ABHMS is working on an initiative that partners young people with mission experiences through Neighborhood Action Program Christian centers.
3. Establish a missional mapping network: This is an Internet-based, interactive map of mission sites across the United States that seeks to identify synergistic opportunities for cooperation and learning. Already launched at www.missionalnetworking.org, the map is meant to connect people with people, groups with groups and both with excellent available resources. Thinkers in the area of missional church will share their insights by blogging as part of this network, which aims to wed technology with resources and connect them with more people.
During his president’s report, the Rev. Dr. Clifford Johnson applauded the involvement of ABHMS in Immerse, the 2012 national gathering of American Baptist Youth in Washington, D.C., where the worship, he said, was “electrifying.” In addition, he shared about his experience as an ABHMS representative at the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) annual event in New York City, which he described as “most moving.” As a founding member of ICCR more than 40 years ago, ABHMS is “at the forefront of this group,” Johnson said.
Finance Committee chair Brazilian Thurman, who also attended the ICCR event, reported to the board that a portion of the program celebrated a recent ICCR success: Hershey Foods has announced it will certify all of its cocoa with a third party by 2020. Since Hershey has a 43% share of the U.S. chocolate market, the company’s decision is viewed as an important industry influence, bound to result in more sustainable cocoa farming and production.
In addition to a devotion by Brokaw, devotions were offered during the meeting by the Rev. James Calloway and the Rev. Lauren Ng.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies—the domestic mission arm of American Baptist Churches USA (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 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.