VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 11/17/15)—The Board of General Ministries for American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) met November 12-14, 2015, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. At the meeting, the board elected Interim General Secretary Susan Gillies to serve beginning December 1, 2015, and approved a resolution to confer the recognition of General Secretary Emeritus to the Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley.
Board of General Ministries President Don Ng opened the meeting and introduced Josue D. Gómez-Menéndez, incoming Vice President who will be taking this role for the next biennium, January 1, 2016-December 31, 2017.
During its opening plenary session, the Board of General Ministries elected Susan Gillies to serve as Interim General Secretary. Gillies will begin this new role on December 1, 2015, and will serve in the position until a new General Secretary is named.
“At a time of significant change in American Baptist life, Susan Gillies brings a steady spirit, exceptional experience, and ample administrative skills to the Office of the General Secretary as its Interim,” said ABC President Don Ng. “After 14 years of humble and dedicated leadership by Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, Susan Gillies will continue the clear direction of the denomination to assist ABC churches to adapt to societal and religious changes in our world through the Transformed by the Spirit initiative.”
On Friday afternoon, November 13, the board approved a resolution to confer the recognition of General Secretary Emeritus to the Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley.
Conferring the Recognition:
“Recognizing your denominational leadership of the American Baptist Churches USA for the past 14 years since January 2002, we bestow upon you the honor of being known to the American Baptist family and to all others in Christian and interfaith communities as General Secretary Emeritus of the American Baptist Churches USA.
We remember with deep regard your faithful commitment to bring people with different faith convictions to the table for reconciliation, evident in the Baptist/Muslim dialogues; your prophetic courage to represent the oppressed people, particularly in Burma, in the halls of national governments; your loving compassion to travel and meet people around the world to embody being the hands and feet of Christ; your lifelong commitment to the National Council of Churches of Christ and to the Baptist World Alliance that such world-wide Baptist communion has appointed you as their representative at the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2015.
In conferring this honor, the Board of General Ministries of ABCUSA joins with you in continued appreciation for the Office of the General Secretary. And though you will no longer actively serve as General Secretary, your commitment to peace and justice around the world helps us to regard you and the Office of the General Secretary you held in our midst with great respect and honor.
In conferring this honor, we pledge ourselves to continued concern for your health and well-being. We hold you in our prayers and cherish the contributions you have made and will continue to make as our first “General Secretary Emeritus!”
Following his retirement, Medley will continue to serve on a number of Boards of partners to American Baptist Churches, including serving with the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches, serving as chair of the Baptist World Alliance Commission on Interfaith Relations and the BWA Executive Committee, among other boards and committees.
Also during the Friday plenary, Rev. Dr. C. Jeff Woods, associate general secretary for Regional Ministries and Mission Summit/Mission Table Facilitator, reported on the Mission Summit Conversations which took place at the Biennial Mission Summit in Overland Park, Kansas, June 26-28, 2015, and the ABC Mission Table, which met prior to the Board of General Ministries meeting, November 9-11, 2015.
Woods highlighted the seven priorities which surfaced at the Mission Table: Next Generation of Leaders, Violence, Discipleship, Poverty, Gospel in a Rapidly Changing Society, Women in Ministry, and Innovative Models for Pastoral Ministry (previously Alternative Models for Pastoral Ministry). These priorities will be a major denominational focus in the 20 months leading up to the next Biennial Mission Summit in Portland, Oregon, June 29-July 1, 2017. Work done by ABC partners, regions and churches that focuses on these priorities will be reported and celebrated at the 2017 event.
ABC President Ng announced that the Orientation to American Baptist Life conference will be integrated into the Biennial Mission Summit in 2017, allowing for seminarians and new ministers to attend the event and learn about the makeup of American Baptist Churches, becoming fully immersed at the event.
Ng gave a touching tribute to Medley, who he called an American Baptist Peacemaker. “In Matthew, Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.’ Roy Medley is a child of God who grew up to become one of God’s peacemakers,” said Ng. “Being a peacemaker means that one has to get up and cross borders to be on the other side.”
“Roy…was willing to cross borders in the name of Jesus, extending his hand in the name of love and reconciliation and in the end, trusting only in the Lord to do the rest,” said Ng. “It’s been my personal joy and professional honor to serve with Roy to whom I am both grateful to God and thankful for Roy to be our American Baptist peacemaker!”
During its meeting, the board voted to adopt the 2016 budget presented by budget review officer Paul Higgins. ABCUSA President Don Ng gave the Report of the BGM Executive Committee, and board director Wesley Roberts gave the Report of the Credentials and Caucus Committee.
The Board recognized retiring Board of General Ministries Directors and celebrated the service of the American Baptist Churches Officers. Julia Bebeau is retiring from the board after 8 years of service, Ruth Clark is retiring after ten years of service, including two years as President and two years as Past President, and Ernest Jones is retiring after 6 years of service.
In his final words at a board meeting as President of American Baptist Churches USA, Ng highlighted the importance of integrity, integration, and identity in our work as American Baptists, saying, “In an increasingly pluralistic world, let us become clear in our identity as American Baptists, to bear witness in Christ.”
The Board of General Ministries meetings concluded on Saturday, November 14.
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.