The reflection below was written by Marcia Street, president of Mid-American Baptist Women’s Ministries. This is part of a new featured series, “Proud to be an American Baptist.” Check the ABCUSA website and other publications in the near future to see more stories! View the archive and learn why others are proud to be American Baptist by clicking here.
I have been a Baptist all my life and when I had the chance to go to another church when the church I was attending closed, I chose to seek out another American Baptist church in a neighboring town. I did this for several reasons. As a mainline church we may be small in numbers but we are great in diversity. Baptists have strong leaders.
One of my prize possessions is the Centenary Translation of the New Testament in Modern English translated by Helen Barrett Montgomery in 1924 that was owned and read by my Baptist grandfather. Baptists have great women leaders, past and present.
I have had the opportunity of going on several mission trips and I am so impressed with how our Baptist missionaries teach, show by example, and help find resources that will work to make the lives of the people they are serving improve. Baptists send high quality missionaries to carry out the Great Commission.
American Baptist Women’s Ministries not only prays and sends needed items to our missionaries but have recently taken on the social evil of human trafficking and domestic violence. As Baptist women, we are helping women in crisis situations and becoming a voice for the voiceless.
The last mission trip I participated in took a group of 10 ladies with two tour guides, Virginia Holmstrom, executive director of American Baptist Women’s Ministries, and Rev. Dr. Roy Medley, general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA, to Lebanon and Georgia. One of our purposes for the trip was to connect with Muslim and Christian women. In Lebanon we sat and listened to many stories told by women members of the Arab Group for Christian-Muslim Dialogue. As Baptists, we say to people of different faiths and religions that we stand by you and pray God’s wisdom over you as you seek for ways to peacefully coexist. Baptists as peacemakers.
Traveling with our hosts from the Cathedral Baptist Church in Tbilisi, Georgia to Batumi, a city along the Black Sea, brought us face to face with Muslim leaders as we sat and listened to their needs. Later we experienced Muslim hospitality as we stayed the night with Muslim families. What a special time my roommate and I had of simple sharing with four young college students in their large apartment.
The next morning we stood with the Muslims leaders as they shared their need for more land to build a bigger mosque and had been refused by the Adjarian Government. The Georgian Baptists learned about this earlier and decided that when we came to visit Georgia, we as a team, would go to the government official and share our concerns about their refusal to let the Muslims have the land.
Even though I was only a witness as we sat around a large conference table with an Adjarian official I found myself thinking this is another great example of what it means to be a Baptist. We are called to stand by and voice our concerns about the injustice done to a group of people because of religious discrimination. The next day we heard the headlines in the local newspaper read “Baptists Demand Mosque for Muslims.” When we got home we received an e-mail telling us the Muslims did get the land to build a bigger mosque. I pray that that may have changed the way Muslims view Baptists, especially those from the United States. The experience DID change my view of how Baptists stand by those who are discriminated against.
Proud to be an American Baptist, yes but even more I am grateful to be a child of God.