VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 10/28/13)—The first ever Mission Table will be held this November. The Mission Table is a gathering of people who come together to further advance God’s work among American Baptist congregations in common areas of mission and ministry. It will be held November 11-13, 2013, at the American Baptist Assembly/Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wisconsin. This will be a groundbreaking event with an ultimate goal that in addition to important connections and conversations, each participant will be enthused about advocating for some course of action regarding a topic that is relevant and urgent to their respective organization.
Mission Table participants will discuss topics related to mission and ministry using a process designed specifically to advance what can be done about those topics. Participants will include persons from every region, seminary, and national agency (around 100 in total).
“The Mission Table, like the Mission Summit, is one of the grand experiments of the new structure of American Baptist Churches USA,” said ABCUSA General Secretary A. Roy Medley. “The table is a wonderful opportunity for the denomination to come together using the input from the 2013 Mission Summit/Biennial in Kansas to boldly engage missional opportunities as the body of Christ. I hope that it will flourish as a missional think-tank that leads to greater collaboration for mission.”
The topics to be discussed at the Mission Table were originally discussed at Mission Summit 2013: An American Baptist Biennial Gathering, held in June 2013 in Overland Park, Kansas. The Mission Summit offered 32 different topics for conversation, and every topic had a group of people that had decided that this specific topic was their #1 choice for conversation.
The Mission Summit topics originally surfaced from work done through the Transformed by the Spirit (TbyS) initiative, which included a national survey as well as topics already being discussed by existing TbyS teams. In short, the topics at the Mission Table represent issues that American Baptists find both critical to their future work, but also challenging.
ABCUSA President Ruth Clark explains, “Hearing about the effects of Transformed by the Spirit, along with experiencing the excitement of the Mission Summit Conversations, has set the table. The Mission Table, that is. Regions and national bodies have come together to work through hard questions and try new ways of answering them. We prayerfully expect another transformation of ourselves and our churches as we allow the Spirit to work in and through us.”
A webpage was set up to share learnings during the Mission Summit Conversations, to allow for an even deeper look into the conversations that have already taken place. Nearly 2000 people have visited this website to glean information from the Mission Summit Conversations. Mission Table learnings will additionally be posted both on this site and the ABCUSA website, as a way of sharing these learnings with the greater community of American Baptists across the country and throughout the world. Visit the site at www.missionsummitconversations.com
“My hope is that everyone attending the Mission Table will find at least one topic that they can really connect with,” said C. Jeff Woods, associate general secretary for Regional Ministries and ABCUSA staff to the Mission Table. “While the Mission Summit Conversations (that took place in June) will set the parameters for the conversations at the Mission Table, participants will have plenty of opportunity to find their passion and advance those topics further. Evidence from the Mission Summit tells us that significant learning can happen around those tables as people engage in conversation.”
“There were several stories from the Mission Summit of persons saying, ‘I have a new insight on this now,’ or ‘I have developed a completely new perspective on this issue out of these conversations.’ So, I hope that Mission Table participants experience the same type of takeaways that happen in the midst of the conversations,” said Woods. “I am hopeful that some of the participants will go back to their respective regions, national boards, colleges, and institutions and launch brand new groups around mission and ministry challenges that they feel called to embrace.”
The idea of a “Mission Table” has been called uniquely Baptist. This is because Baptists have always gathered to do more together than they could separately in mission and ministry. The Mission Table is an attempt to create the space for that to happen all over again, but in today’s context and with today’s needs and challenges. Read more online at www.missionsummitconversations.com through current posted summaries of learnings, and also following the Mission Table, as once again American Baptists engage in mission and ministry.
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.