VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 8/16/13)—The 2013 Ministers Council Senate, meeting at the American Baptist Assembly at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wisconsin, was called to order Monday, August 12, by Ministers Council President Rev. Dr. Darla Dee Turlington. The theme for this year’s Senate gathering was, “I am about to do a new thing….” (Isaiah 43:19) with scriptural emphasis on God’s presence in all the circumstances of our lives. The Senate continued its practice of “Worshipful Work,” accomplishing all necessary tasks within the context of prayer. The theme and the practice of worshipful work were especially important this year as the business focused on finding the new future that God has in mind for the Ministers Council Senate.
The biggest celebration of this year’s Senate meetings was the vote at the opening session to receive a new Constituent Council, the Chin Baptist Churches in the United States Ministers Council, into the Ministers Council of the American Baptist Churches, USA. The new Constituent Council has 38 members and sent Senator Rollin Van Bik of Frederick, MD, to this year’s Senate.
The primary business of the Senate at this year’s gathering was to receive a report from the Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Debora Jackson, called, “Discerning the Way Forward,” in which Dr. Jackson outlined the serious challenges and the great opportunities ahead for the Ministers Council. She then commissioned the Senate to redesign with her, over the next three days, a Senate Structure that:
- achieves our mission and purpose,
- realizes financial sustainability, and
- better connects and relates the Ministers Council to local Councils and ABC Regions.
The result of this process of discernment was the decision of the Senate to send to Executive Committee of the Ministers Council a collection of proposals that will be implemented as soon as possible or reviewed before implementation. A major expectation is that the Ministers Council will be a more inclusive group in the near future. In addition, a commitment was made by Senators to strengthen their engagement with local Councils.
Other business of the Senate at the 2013 meetings included:
- Review of the Together in Ministry Capital Campaign and a presentation to the Senate members as to how they will be involved in the campaign in coming months.
- The presentation of the Ralph Garfield Schell award to the Revs. Kenneth Williams and Curtis Price.
- The Report of President Turlington and the welcoming of the new President, Rev. Douglas Harris of North Shore Baptist Church, Chicago, IL.
- The offering of their experiences and visions by Senators to their colleagues.
American Baptist Churches 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.