Brief History of the Professional Ministries Team

ABCUSA > Jeff Woods > Brief History of the Professional Ministries Team

Brief History of the Professional Ministries Team


The following brief history of the Professional Ministries Team was provided by Dr. C. Jeff Woods, Associate General Secretary for Regional Ministries.

The ABC Structure and Process Commission envisioned the role of this group to, “foster greater cohesiveness in addressing the concerns and needs of ABC ministerial leaders.” (November 2002)

Those present at the December 7, 2004 inaugural meeting of, team were: Valentine Royal, Robert Charpentier, John Williams, Margo Stone, Alice Davis, Steve Ott, Leonard Thompson, Kate Harvey, Rhonda Cushman, Lynne Eckmann, Ross Lucas, Reid Trulson, Mary Mild, Alan Newton, Joe Kutter, and Jeff Woods (staff to the team).  Absent:  Linda Bryan (end of semester issues), Rick Harris (sabbatical), George Langhorne (professional meetings in Wash DC).

The offices and portfolio assignments represented by the participants have included:

  • Centers for the Ministry
  • American Baptist Personnel System
  • Ministers Council
  • Ecclesiastical Endorsing
  • Interim Ministries
  • Women in Ministry
  • Clergy Financial Aid
  • Regional Ministries
  • Executive Ministers
  • Area Ministers
  • Region Staff
  • Local Church Pastors
  • Pastoral Counselors
  • Ministry Vocations
  • MMBB
  • American Baptist Association of Seminary Administrators

At its initial meeting, the team adopted the six core values listed below which have continued to shape the team’s conversations and work to the present day.

  • Creativity
  • Humility
  • Integrity
  • Purposefulness
  • Spirituality
  • Teamwork

Since 2004, the team has met twice yearly.  The facilitator has repeatedly stressed that ½ of the work of the team takes places around the table as the participants share their voices on issues related to clergy and learn from the perspectives and active projects of one another and that the other ½ is spent on documents and resources that can be shared with others in ways that encourage and enhance the life of clergy in the ABC.  Some of the various topics that have been discussed and resources that have been produced since 2004 are listed below.

Topics Discussed:

  • What is the distinctive role of the pastor in the Baptist tradition?
  • New models for pastoral ministry
  • The Fund for Theological Education (FTE) – A Lilly Endowment Program
  • Chaos Theory
  • The offering of a joint two day continuing education event for clergy at the Biennial
  • Status of clergy in situations of congregational transitions
  • Background checks for clergy
  • Bivocational clergy
  • Issues related to Burmese clergy including ordination
  • Restorative justice
  • Nehemiah Network with visits from its directors
  • Seminarians pursuing ministry pathways other than pastoral ministry
  • Clergy health

Resources Produced:

  • Annotated bibliography for clergy development
  • Definition of clergy development
  • Current regional practices with regard to promoting clergy ethics
  • Current regional practices with regard to ordination practices
  • Mentoring clergy
  • Determining adequate compensation for clergy
  • Speakers Bureau Listing
  • Sample clergy misconduct disclosure form
  • Clarifying procedures for entering clergy status information into ABCIS
  • Revised “Recommended Procedures for Ordination”
  • Clergy health statement of urgency
  • Clergy health tips
  • Best practices for clergy