The blog below was written by Rev. Dr. C. Jeff Woods, associate general secretary for Regional Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA). Woods also serves in the role of the Mission Table Facilitator. Learn what is happening in the denomination as a result of the American Baptist Churches Mission Table, which met in Valley Forge, Penn., November 9-11, 2015.
The National Leadership Council recently addressed the seven Mission Table priorities identifying activity, progress, and synergy among the priorities. The seven priorities were identified at the second ABC Mission Table, November 9-11, 2015, at the Double Tree hotel in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, from 21 topics, originally a part of the Mission Summit Conversations held at the 2015 Biennial Mission Summit, June 26-28, 2015, in Overland Park, Kansas.
The following are highlights from each of the seven priorities:
- Next Generation of Leaders – the American Baptist Churches of Los Angeles, Southwest and Hawaii has a program entitled, “What happens at the table? Real People, Real Questions; Young adults engaging in real conversation about life, faith, and the church.”
- Violence – The American Baptist Churches of Greater Indianapolis is sending a team to attend Racial Reconciliation training through Eric Law this summer by virtue of a Palmer Grant recently received.
- Discipleship – The American Baptist Churches of the Dakotas is witnessing increased health and vitality in local churches through various discipleship emphases.
- Poverty – American Baptist Churches of the Rochester/Genesee Region had a significant impact on poverty through the receipt and distribution of multiple million dollar grants in the city of Rochester.
- Gospel in a Rapidly Changing Society – American Baptist Women’s Ministries is involved in an initiative with Trinette McCray as consultant to develop cultural competency among our national board members looking toward building relationships in our extended communities.
- Women in Ministry – Dr. Daryl Ward of Omega Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio, has launched an Urban Leadership Academy that highlights and networks women engaged in combatting issues such as poverty and injustice.
- Innovative Models of Pastoral Ministry – The American Baptist Churches of Rhode Island and American Baptist Churches of Connecticut are working on a shared ministry project for encouraging the training/encouragement/networking of bivocational pastors.
As one can see, all of the seven Mission Table priorities encourage the health and vitality of the local church. By most standards and typologies, one of the marks of a healthy church is how much a local congregation is involved in its communities. Several of our identified Mission Table priorities encourage community involvement and engagement as identified in the case statements of these priorities. Issues of “poverty” and “violence” draw us out into our neighborhoods. Our commitment to “discipleship” and “sharing the Gospel in a rapidly changing society” compel us to act. Yet, we cannot fully engage these priorities without partnering with a diverse constituency, including “women in ministry” and the “next generation of leaders.” Finally, our efforts must feature “innovative models of ministry” to succeed.
Case Statements for the seven priority topics for American Baptist Churches (ABC), which surfaced at the 2015 Mission Table, are available online for review and discussion at www.missionsummitconversations.com.