VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 6/6/17)—Forty-six of American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS) new and historic partners from churches, campus and community ministries in Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington participated in ABHMS’ first aligned action network meeting on May 17 at Linfield College, McMinnville, Ore.
A new ABHMS strategy for accomplishing mission, aligned action networks are comprised of passionate American Baptist disciples in geographic clusters throughout the United States and Puerto Rico who convene to share assets, resources, best practices and actionable ideas to ultimately create ministries that make a difference in people’s lives.
ABHMS seeks to convene similar meetings with all partners across the United States and Puerto Rico to facilitate consistent mission engagement, according to the Rev. Lisa Harris-Lee, ABHMS director of Mission Engagement and National Network Initiatives. ABHMS believes that working together will allow all partners to extend their ministry reaches to achieve greater impact.
Participant Anthony Doheny, pastor of Emerald Community Fellowship, Eugene, Ore., admitted that he didn’t know what to expect from the meeting but soon found it worthwhile.
“As it unfolded, I thought, ‘This event matters a lot, and there’s something brewing here,’” Doheny says. “It became clear to me that American Baptist Home Mission Societies is intentional in not necessarily being a program but a piece of the puzzle. It felt like more of a partnership. ABHMS is wanting to explore the changes that are happening in our culture and how can they partner along with the local church.”
Christina Turner, a member of Peoples Institutional Baptist Church, Seattle, participated in the meeting as a young adult representative of American Baptist Women. She hopes that the aligned action network will address the growing issue of young adults becoming unaffiliated with church.
“I’m hoping this group can put some focus on re-engaging young adults in ministry,” she says.
Facilitating discussion about organizations working together toward common goals were Zach Anderson and Matthew Spence, founding leaders of Converge, a national network of strategists who partner with others to tackle complex social and environmental problems. They led the group in exploring such topics as types of organizations, ministry-related hopes and challenges, and greater achievement via collaboration.
“Collaborative efforts often provide those who participate with opportunities to see their own experience in a larger context,” says Spence. “Although the day was long and the conversations were not always easy, the feeling by the end of the gathering was that everyone was energized by the recognition that the challenges they face are shared by others, by how much everyone learned from the diversity of perspectives and experience in the room, and by how a gathering like this makes it so much easier to identify opportunities to support one another and, when possible, to work together.”
In addition to virtual meetings, future in-person meetings in the geographic area will take place in or near Seattle, San Francisco and Salt Lake City. Similar meetings are also planned for other areas across the United States and Puerto Rico. In October, one meeting will be held for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, and another meeting will be held for Georgia. A meeting for Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri is planned for November. The following gatherings are being planned for 2018: February, California and Arizona; March, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut; April, Kansas and Nebraska; May, Ohio, West Virginia and Michigan; and June, Florida.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.