VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 11/27/13)—American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) Executive Director Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins III and Associate Executive Director of Missional Life and Leadership the Rev. Dr. Marilyn P. Turner participated in the New Baptist Covenant Summit on Nov. 21 and 22 in Atlanta. Baptist leaders from several U.S. regions and diverse traditions collaborated and announced “Covenants of Action”—or cooperative service projects—to promote literacy as well as to combat hunger and predatory lending.
The New Baptist Covenant is a movement started by President Jimmy Carter in 2007 to break down barriers of race, theology and geography among Baptists to follow through with Jesus’ mandate to proclaim good news to the poor and set the oppressed free (Luke 4).
During the summit’s opening session, Wright-Riggins participated in a panel discussion moderated by Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter and featuring Scott Steadman, pastor of Kirkwood Baptist Church, St. Louis, Mo., and Douglas Stowers of Habitat for Humanity. They shared stories of transformative partnership experiences, discussing the ways in which the group can move forward to develop sustainable partnerships.
“The reality is that reconciliation costs,” Wright-Riggins said. “It’s beyond saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ The reality is that life has to be offered. There has to be restitution. Reprimands. Real change. We’re not good at that because we don’t want to give up privilege. We don’t want to give up power. We don’t want to say that we’re wrong. We just want to say that we won’t do it anymore.”
The event concluded Friday with a service of celebration and commissioning at the Carter Center. In a video message, Carter offered a word of encouragement for the group and expressed his excitement for their future work together: “I am grateful and encouraged that you have chosen to participate in the New Baptist Covenant Summit—that you are here, committing yourself to the goals of action, reconciliation and transformation. The New Baptist Covenant movement is dear to my heart. For too long, racial, theological and geographic barriers have separated our Baptist family. Your work here can change that and help to usher in a new age of shared ministries and fellowship. You came here to make covenants with God and each other, lending our stories to God’s eternal narrative for hope and healing of all creation.”
The ministry of the New Baptist Covenant is supported by donations from individuals and such organizations as ABHMS.
Held in January 2008 in Atlanta, the first New Baptist Covenant gathering convened more than 15,000 individuals representing more than 30 Baptist organizations.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies—the domestic mission arm of American Baptist Churches USA—ministers as the caring heart and serving hands of Jesus Christ across the United States and Puerto Rico through a multitude of initiatives that focus on discipleship, community and justice.
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.