OVERLAND PARK, KS (ABNS 6/22/13)—Mission Summit 2013: An American Biennial Gathering began on Friday, June 21, as attendees focused on being Transformed for Justice. The three day event also features a new Mission Summit Conversations component, during which attendees engage in dialogue about mission challenges faced by churches across the denomination. “In over thirty years of American Baptist life, this is the most exciting thing that I have been a part of. The room was electric,” said Rev. Dr. Dwight Stinnett, executive minister for the Great Rivers Region, during the Mission Summit Reporting session.
“At the Friday night service, attendees were reminded of their historic commitment to social justice,” said Rev. Reg Mills, chair of the Mission Summit/Biennial Planning Team. “Guest speaker Dr. Michelle Alexander, associate professor at Moritz College of Law, Ohio State University, challenged participants to embrace a new issue, the mass incarceration of minorities and the poor, and the resulting creation of a new caste system in our society. I think that more than a few people were struck of conscience and heart to begin asking themselves how the Gospel and Dr. Alexander’s ‘New Jim Crow’ intersect. There are serious implications for faith here.”
This event marks many important anniversaries for American Baptists. In addition to being Transformed for Justice and the Mission Summit Conversations, there will be a focus on being Transformed for Mission, Transformed by the Spirit and Transformed for Today.
Don Ng, vice president of ABCUSA, said, “We all know that God’s time may be different from ours. But when the inaugural ABC Mission Summit was to be in 2013, who would have guessed that we would also be celebrating and remembering some of the most important anniversaries in American Baptist life! Standing up for religious freedom, Baptists founded the First Baptist Church in America 375 years ago. Fighting for freedom and civil rights, the Emancipation Proclamation took place 150 years ago. And when Adoniram and Ann Judson believed that God was calling them to spread the Gospel to other lands, they mark for us the 200 years of foreign missions when they landed in Burma.”
“I was once again struck by the oneness of Spirit and common mission exhibited across lines of age, ethnicity, and social standing,” said Mills, reflecting on the Friday evening service. “There is a power in this experience that is replicated in our local churches that we hope will transform both church and community.”
Follow the events at Mission Summit 2013 on the ABCUSA website, Facebook page, Twitter (#missionsummit2013), and view the photo album at www.abc-usa.org. Photos will be available throughout the weekend.