Looking Ahead: Celebrating ‘An Experimental People’
The following text is taken from the video above. Watch (or read) to see American Baptist Churches USA General Secretary Roy Medley’s reflections on the upcoming Mission Summit/Biennial in Overland Park/Kansas, June 21-23, 2013. Visit www.americanbaptists2013.com for more information!
I hope that congregations will come away from this inaugural Mission Summit and our Biennial with an understanding that Baptists have always been an experimental people, that we have always faced adaptive challenges with a willingness to try new forms of ministry, to find new forms of expression of our faith and for outreach to others.
In Kansas City we will be celebrating three major events that exemplify that pioneering spirit, including the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The whole issue of slavery was a huge adaptive challenge to the life of the church of that generation. American Baptists rose to that challenge in their work against slavery. And then following the Civil War they worked in the South to create schools and to provide for the whole expression of the citizenship of those who had once been slaves.
On Saturday night we’ll also be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Judsons in Burma. When they received the call, our theological orientation was Calvinistic–an anti-missionary movement. It followed that through the work begun by the Judsons there was a huge shift in Baptist life that called us to reach out in mission with a passion for the whole world, and we have not stopped.
And on Sunday night we’ll celebrate the 375th anniversary of the founding of the First Baptist Church in America in Providence, Rhode Island, a milestone in the expression of religious freedom and another example of the fact that Baptists were an adaptive movement within the life of the church.
We’ll also be asking people to join in conversations around the adaptive challenges they face today and that have been named by them.
I want people to come away from these conversations with a sense of encouragement derived from our history, but also with a sense of freedom—a freedom to try new things, a freedom to ask, “How do we live out the life of Christ as a people in the midst of those who deal with despair, who deal with fear, who ask what future they will have where the gap between rich and poor seems to grow ever wider? Is there a way for us to be a blessing to our community that we have not been before?”
We look forward to learning from each other. It will be a whole different way of doing a Biennial.
-Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, General Secretary, American Baptist Churches USA