PORTLAND, OR (6/29/17)—The Board of General Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA met Tuesday, June 27 through Thursday, June 29, 2017, at the DoubleTree hotel in Portland, Ore. During the opening plenary session, the Board was addressed by Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer, new general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA.
Spitzer was elected in a special meeting of the Board of General Ministries on May 8, 2017, and began his service as General Secretary on June 1.
In his Ministry Report, Spitzer highlighted five key ministry priorities for the denomination:
- Unify our Family based on Core Convictions and Joyful Mission
- Strengthen our Regions as they serve our churches and clergy
- Promote the mission of our national agencies and mission partners
- Lead our family into new church growth, evangelism and creative service
- Encourage creative partnerships
“The members of the Board of General Ministries are an amazing family. We shared joys and hopes, prayed for one another and for the American Baptist family, and worked collaboratively and with a positive spirit on several important matters. I am grateful to be part of such a beloved community,” Dr. Spitzer said.
Rev. Judy Fackenthal, president of American Baptist Churches USA, gave the President’s Report. She recognized all those who worked to make the upcoming Biennial Mission Summit event a success, and noted the past years of transition and looked forward to “prayerful dreams for ABCUSA’s future.”
“I want to celebrate who we are as American Baptists. Through many travels and conversations, I’ve seen Baptists in ministry that seeks first to represent Christ with love and hope in the world….I have a spirit of hope and trust that God is not finished with American Baptists! We have much to offer in these troubling days of division and increasing struggles as a nation and as a world. As we continue to seek to be in harmony with one another and be Christ’s hands, feet, and voice to each other and the world, God will faithfully guide us into a future that give God glory, does no harm to creation and creatures, and lifts up hope,” said Fackenthal.
On Wednesday morning, the Board was addressed by Ryan Burge, pastor and political science professor at Eastern Illinois University, who gave a presentation to the Board of General Ministries around Clergy and Congregations, looking at Theology, Ideology and Demography.
The Board of General Ministries attended a Joint Board Dinner of National Boards on Wednesday evening, June 28, with representatives from the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, American Baptist Women’s Ministries, International Ministries and MMBB Financial Services (the Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board). Board members spent time in fellowship and conversation.
On Thursday morning the Board heard reports from the Board of General Ministries Action Groups, who met on Wednesday afternoon, around the following topics: Communicating ABC Identity, Finance, Committee on Christian Unity and Interfaith Relations, and the Beloved Community.
The Board of General Ministries meeting adjourned on Thursday morning, June 29, following closing worship led by Board of General Ministries Chaplain Kay Farley.
Following the meeting, Fackenthal remarked, “The Board of General Ministries had another meeting of wise discussion and creative discernment. Several new board directors joined us for their first full meeting. They bring many strengths that will continue to bless the work of the board. It was a pleasure to welcome Lee Spitzer, newly elected General Secretary, to his first board meeting. We appreciate his goals and hopes for our denomination.”
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.