VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 5/2/18)—American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS)
continues its pursuit of home mission via collaborative gatherings—the most recent held April 21, 23 and 24 in Massachusetts with partners from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Maine.
Led by Dr. Jane Wei-Skillern, an adjunct professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Rev. Lisa Harris Lee, ABHMS director of Mission Engagement and National Network Initiatives, the aligned action network gathering introduced participants to the concept of mission-centered, rather than organization-centered, partnerships for maximizing ministry impact. ABHMS is employing this collaborative framework to deepen and broaden transformational ministry throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
“I was heartened by the number of leaders who had been invited and attended. It demonstrates that the ‘associational principle’ of Baptists is alive and well, with so many wanting to partner,” says participant the Rev. Dr. Debora Jackson, director of Lifelong Learning at Yale Divinity School. “So often in these kinds of situations, the most prominent player wants to sit at the center as a hub with others as satellites around the hub. However, this model promotes the mission as the central focus and encourages all partners to be equal contributors and influencers in the network constellation. It’s exactly the model that we need to leverage, and it’s exciting.
“I see tremendous application for my setting,” she continues. “We want to partner with American Baptist Churches USA; program entities like ABHMS, International Ministries, American Baptist Women’s Ministries, the Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board and the Ministers Council; and our regions, churches and pastors to be a resource, particularly in areas such as theological and continuing education. The network model that we discussed enlivens and makes such a vision possible.”
The meeting was held at First Baptist Church of Worcester, Mass., which was pastored by Jonathan Going in the 1800s. Going and John Mason Peck founded The American Baptist Home Mission Society in 1832 after traveling thousands of miles on horseback to distribute tracts and explore conditions of Baptists in the West.
A Spanish-language “Ministry of Immigration” workshop at Igreja Batista Renovada de Framingham provided information and tools to help pastoral leaders address various challenges encountered when ministering to the immigrant community in the United States. In addition, an English-language “Briefing on Immigration and Refugees,” also held at Igreja Batista Renovada, discussed ways in which American Baptists can heed the call to aid refugees.
Twenty-nine pastors and 13 lay leaders attended “Achieving Financial Peace” at Boston University. Led by the Rev. Jamaal Nelson, director of ABHMS’ “In Support of Excellence” program, the workshop enumerated ways in which pastors can be supported in eliminating personal debt in this age of undercompensation.
Palliative care, hospice care, bio-medical ethics, moral injury, trauma and research were among the topics presented during “Growing Trends of Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministries” at First Baptist Church, Worcester. The Rev. Dr. Patricia Murphy, interim director, ABHMS Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministries, led chaplains, pastors and other spiritual leaders in dialogue about best practices for providing spiritual care and counseling in rapidly changing times.
“Dr. Murphy was an excellent, insightful and knowledgeable facilitator,” says a participant. “I thank you for this session. Please bring it back!”
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.