VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 3/29/16)—In response to events in Ferguson, Charleston, Baltimore, over the last few years and divisive rhetoric prevalent in the media, American Baptist women have committed to a deeper exploration of “Beloved Community” in American Baptist Women’s Ministries as well as in congregations and communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
As part of the 2015-2016 national mission focus of American Baptist Women’s Ministries, “See…the Beloved Community,” AB Women’s Ministries hosted a virtual mission encounter for women March 7-11, 2016, on this critical topic. The virtual mission encounter urged participants to understand their Christian calling to transform their communities through their relationships with one another. Participants engaged in study and discussion around stereotypes, individual prejudice and systemic injustices, police and community relations, and scriptural exhortations to be one in Christ.
Guest presenters, Rev. Dr. Trinette McCray, Rev. Dr. Cheryl F. Dudley, Rev. Marie Onwubuariri, and Rev. Dr. Karyn Carlo helped deepen participants’ understanding of the biblical foundation for Beloved Community, the Christian call to transformation—personally and corporately, the need for cultural competency and multicultural understanding, and how we can engage in building stronger relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
“We can see such profound examples in scripture and in the witness of many believers yesterday and today that God is a relational God. The Beloved Community is our opportunity and, yes, our call to be one more step closer to living in community relating to each other as God desires. AB Women’s Ministries has taken one more bold and courageous step in that direction,” McCray said.
AB Women’s Ministries is in the second year of a three-year initiative, “Living out Our Cultural Reality into God’s Intentional Desire” with consultant Rev. Dr. Trinette McCray. Through surveys, interviews, and work with the national board, American Baptist Women’s Ministries is developing strategies around several themes that have emerged. It is clear that there is a desire and commitment to developing Beloved Community in and through American Baptist Women’s Ministries.
“Many AB Women’s Ministries regional and local events have also taken on this theme,” says AB Women’s Ministries Executive Director Virginia Holmstrom. “There is realization that transformation of relationships between individuals or communities starts from within. The virtual mission encounter provided a gathering space for honest conversations that led to deeper awareness and appreciation for the vision and desire to become the Beloved Community that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., articulated often. My prayer is that in learning to embody the practice of Beloved Community, American Baptist women will be change agents that infuse their congregations, communities, workplaces, and other systems with transformative relationships grounded in a love for, and inclusion of, all of God’s children.”
For more information and resources for the 2015-2016 mission focus “See…the Beloved Community,” visit www.abwministries.org/missionfocus.
American Baptist Women’s Ministries is a Christ-centered ministry with a commitment to encourage and empower women and girls to serve God.
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.