VALLEY FORGE, PA (11/12/15)—Susan Gillies was elected to serve as Interim General Secretary by the Board of General Ministries at its meeting on Thursday, November 12, 2015. 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.”
Rev. Judy Fackenthal, ABC Vice President, said, “As President-elect of ABCUSA, I have been in prayerful discernment as we have sought an Interim General Secretary. In this season of transition we want a leader of wisdom who remains open to God and empowers others with gifted leadership skills. Susan Gillies is such a leader, called as Esther, for “such a time as this.” She is well-known, well-loved, and dearly respected throughout our denominational family. Please join me in praying for Susan as she guides us through this season of transition.”
“I am delighted that Susan Gillies has accepted our invitation to be the Interim General Secretary of the ABCUSA. Gillies has the administrative gifts, experience, character and personality to provide the leadership our denomination needs during this period of leadership transition. Her selection by the Board of General Ministries is another example of our denomination’s affirmation of gender equality in ministerial leadership,” said Rev. Dr. Wesley A. Roberts, Ph.D, Pastor of Peoples Baptist Church of Boston of Member of the Board of General Minsitries Executive Committee.
Gillies retired in 2010 after serving ten years as Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of Nebraska. During that time, she also served a term as President of the Regional Executive Ministers Council.
Prior to that, she served as Deputy Executive Director of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), then National Ministries. She also served the organization as Manager of the Ministry of the Laity in the Workplace Program, working with ABHMS for 13 years in total. She was also commissioned by the organization as a home missionary.
She was a faculty member at the University of North Dakota (UND), Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), and the University of Sioux Falls (USF), and also worked in public radio at each university. She directed the building of the first broadcast station at USF, hosted programs in both radio and television at EKU and served in North Dakota as News Director, then Program Director and General Manager for two NPR stations licensed to UND. She also served as Executive Director of the North Dakota Broadcasters Association. At KFJM, licensed to UND, she produced numerous news and music programs, documentaries, live coverage of political and community events. She contributed to NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.” She received North Dakota Associated Press awards for agricultural reporting and documentary production.
Gillies has served on a number of Boards including: Central Baptist Theological Seminary, American Baptist Women’s Ministries, Green Lake Conference Center (American Baptist Assembly) and Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska.
She is the co-author of two books: Renewing God’s People, published by ABHMS, and Empowering Laity Engaging Leaders, part of the Judson Press Living Church series. In addition to other international travel, Susan was part of the first Baptist Peace Fellowship tour of the (then) Soviet Union, traveling to Siberia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
She received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Sioux Falls and a Master’s degree from the University of Memphis. She holds a certificate in non-profit management from the University of Wisconsin.
In retirement, she has done local church consulting and has recorded 144 audio podcasts for the ABHMS website. She writes a weekly newspaper column for the Bridgeport, NE, News-Blade. She expresses her artistic side as a silversmith. She currently lives in her hometown, Omaha, Nebraska, and is a member of Benson Baptist Church.
“As a former regional executive, Susan will be able to network all ABC partners for collaborative efforts. As a former national staff member in ABC National Ministries, now the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, she is well known and familiar with the important role that our national organizations have in the advancement of God’s kingdom. And as a former public radio host, Susan will be able to articulate God’s plan for American Baptists during this transitional time. Susan Gillies served as the chair of the 2015 Biennial Mission Summit in Overland Park, Kansas where many came to know her,” said Ng.
He continued, “I am confident that Susan Gillies will enable us to forge ahead in our faithfulness to God’s plan for American Baptists, as well as to help prepare the ABC in the calling of a new installed General Secretary in the near future. Join me in welcoming Susan Gillies, God’s servant at such a time as this, to be the head of our communion known as American Baptist Churches USA!”
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.