CHICAGO, IL (ABNS 3/13/13)—American Baptist denominational representatives met March 12-13, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois, to focus on the continuing growth of the Transformed by the Spirit initiative. Representatives included denominational leaders, local church pastors, Regional Executive Ministers and leaders, and denominational staff.
“Through this gathering, we are looking at our future together and how we continue to undergird the work of the spirit in our midst, and how God will continue to work through us. God is calling us to exciting life in a new way,” said Roy Medley, general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA).
Led by Alan Roxburgh of the Missional Network, attendees shared experiences, gave insight and evaluated the Transformed by the Spirit process and its success within ABCUSA to date. Attendees also made plans for the Mission Summit Conversations taking place at the Mission Summit/Biennial event in Overland Park, Kansas, June 21-23, 2013.
Ruth Clark, president of ABCUSA, said, “This gathering allowed us to hear one another, to listen to the joys and challenges of wrestling with the questions for which we did not have answers and the surprising learnings the Spirit has given as teams have identified the specific areas of ministry challenges. Perhaps one of the most wondrous developments was the changes this wrestling worked in the hearts and minds of our leadership. The stories shared of “aha!” moments reminded us that God is not through with us. God’s love for the church combined with our willingness to adapt to new ways of doing ministry continues to transform all of us. Praise be to God! “
What is Transformed by the Spirit?
Originally introduced in June 2011 during the American Baptist Biennial in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Transformed by the Spirit is an ambitious initiative of ABCUSA. Initiated by the National Executive Council (made up of the General Secretary and leaders of American Baptist Home Mission Societies, American Baptist International Ministries, American Baptist Women’s Ministries, and the Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board) it also includes the Ministers Council, the Regional Executive Ministers Council, and a number of local pastors.
Transformed by the Spirit invites American Baptists to name and address challenges they identify in their local congregational environments. Identification then leads to a process of “adaptive changes,” changes that are in response to the Spirit’s leading. These changes help to unleash our Baptist DNA for innovation and embrace the transformative work of the Spirit in the life of the church.
The question being asked in this initiative is: “What challenges are we facing, for which we do not presently have an answer, but which must be addressed if we are to live into the future God has for us?”
ABCUSA Vice President Don Ng remarked, “Through being involved in Transformed by the Spirit and leadership at the denominational level, what I am realizing is that the more we as denominational leaders give up control, letting our churches and regions come together and control the conversation and show us where the Spirit is leading, the more we are able to actually be transformed as a denomination.”
At the upcoming Mission Summit/Biennial, June 21-23, 2013, adaptive challenges originally singled out through the Transformed by the Spirit process will be considered as attendees examine the spirits leadings in the form of “Mission Summit Conversations.”
Ng continued, “Sometimes people feel that they do not have an opportunity to speak out and share with other people who are in positions of power. This is an opportunity for people to speak!”
What are the Mission Summit Conversations?
The Mission Summit Conversations are the heart of the Mission Summit/Biennial experience. The three rounds of conversations will provide an open opportunity for anyone attending the Mission Summit/Biennial to engage in meaningful dialogue about a topic of interest or specific ministry challenge by self-selecting into a small group.
Participants of the Mission Summit Conversations will invest in meaningful conversations about mission and will take away from the Mission Summit Conversations an understanding that they are not alone in the challenges they face in mission and ministry. These conversations will also offer new insights into the ministry challenges they face and present ideas on ways of working through them.
As the Transformed by the Spirit process expands following the Mission Summit Conversations in Kansas City, the Mission Table in November 2013 will be the next major step. The Mission Table will use the information provided by the conversations to help define the direction for the local congregation and the denomination as a whole. Learn more about the Mission Summit event or register at www.americanbaptists2013.com.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world