ABHMS Board Looks to a New Future for Mission

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ABHMS Board Looks to a New Future for Mission

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 11/17/17)American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) Board of Directors saluted six retiring board members, welcomed four new members and elected a fifth at its Nov. 13-15 meeting.

In his report to the board, President Dr. Clifford Johnson spoke of a recent ABHMS aligned action network meeting he attended in Philadelphia, noting that “everyone in the room was fired up, including myself” about the new mission strategy. “My work as president of this board continues to be very exciting,” he said. “The work of ABHMS is really on the cutting edge.”

Affirming the changing face of mission in his report, ABHMS Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Haggray said, “God’s unfolding call is not limited to what we have known or previously done. As we look to the future, we follow God’s leading and renewed vision for our mission in America—perhaps one of the most challenging mission fields in the world.”

Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Michaele D. Birdsall also addressed the future of ministry in her budget report, asking board members to consider: “What is the frontier ministry that God is calling us to do today?” With the budget presented to members, she ensured the board, “We are putting in place the resources we need to carry out the call.”

Directors the Rev. Laura Sinclair and the Rev. Kevin “Scotty” Robertson, ABHMS representatives to the American Baptist Churches USA World Relief Committee, reported on the mission impact of organizations that received One Great Hour of Sharing grants awarded by ABHMS on behalf of the committee.

  • Cameron Community Ministries, Rochester, N.Y. ($10,000 grant), served a variety of healthy, fresh food to more than 2,000 individuals in 2016.
  • Bethel Neighborhood Center, Kansas City, Kan. (multi-year $65,000 grant), has served more than 4,500 clients through healthy lifestyle programs, food assistance, English as a Second Language/citizenship classes and more.
  • Lower 9 Resilient, New Orleans, La. ($15,000 grant), is rebuilding a Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood with grant-supported ministries that included 19 construction projects and 24 community service projects in 2017.

Lois Chiles, board vice president and chair of the Governance Committee, welcomed new board members: the Rev. Dr. Leon Runner, Lowville, N.Y.; the Rev. Karen Yee, Hayward, Calif.; the Rev. Dr. Conley Hughes Jr., Haverhill, Mass.; and the Rev. Jamie Washam, Lincoln, R.I.

Chiles also presented to members the name of the Rev. Dr. Gary V. Simpson, Concord Baptist Church of Christ, American Baptist Churches of Metro New York, as a new director, along with candidates for board leadership: Wendy Hagn, vice president and Governance Committee chair; the Rev. Dr. Leon Runner, secretary; and Dr. Kenneth Board, Finance Committee chair. The board voted unanimously to elect Simpson and the recommended new leadership.

At the closing dinner, Johnson and Haggray recognized retiring board members: Vice President Lois Chiles; the Rev. David Gregg; Antonio Lombardi; the Rev. Miriam Mendez; the Rev. Lauren Ng; Brazilian Thurman; and the Rev. Dr. James Wolfe III, a representative from the American Baptist Churches USA Board of General Ministries.

“We are extremely grateful for the leadership provided to this board by Lois Chiles,” said Johnson. “We salute you; we thank you; we will miss you.”

Haggray affirmed the “sense of sadness” at saying goodbye to these directors. “We owe a debt of gratitude to all retiring board members for their dedicated service,” he said.

In “A Litany of Blessing and Thanksgiving,” written by Mendez, board members affirmed their gratitude for the opportunity to serve: “Thank you, Lord, that in serving with ABHMS, we have been challenged and called to be in conversation with issues that can divide us, but have chosen to use our prophetic voice to seek mercy, do justice and walk humbly with Christ and with our brothers and sisters.”

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.