The Board of General Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA met June 13-15, 2018, in Green Lake, Wis., at the Green Lake Conference Center/American Baptist Assembly.
“Throughout the Board of General Ministries meetings, the Holy Spirit spoke through individuals, whose presence and perspectives made a key difference in the course of discussions,” said ABCUSA General Secretary Lee B. Spitzer.
First time Board member Ehhtoowah Hso, from American Baptist Churches of Los Angeles, Southwest and Hawaii, shared his testimony of how he came to the United States from Myanmar. “Everyone was moved by his account, and so the board dedicated our offering to assist Karen, Chin and Kachin Baptist immigrants in the United States and in the refugee camps in countries where International Ministries serves,” noted Spitzer.
The Office of the General Secretary ministry team presented Josué Gómez-Menéndez, American Baptist Churches USA President, with a plaque expressing appreciation for his school’s willingness to share his leadership gifts with the ABCUSA family. Gómez-Menéndez is Administrative Director of the Puerto Nuevo Baptist Academy, a college prep in the San Juan area with 1000 students serving since 1956.
“I’m extremely thankful for having the opportunity to serve our diverse Baptist family as Vice President of American Baptist Churches USA,” said Dean Parker, vice president of American Baptist Churches USA. “During our recent meetings in Green Lake, I served alongside Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Haitian, Euro-American and African American representatives like myself. The board includes both youthful and seasoned members of God’s body, showing the vibrance and diversity of our Christ-centered collaboration. I thank God for the fellowship, worship, and opportunity to discuss a multitude of key and parking lot issues as well as ministries that are at the heart of our love for Christ,” said Parker.
Inspired by an impassioned oration by Raimundo Barreto from the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey, Board of General Ministries directors engaged in a wide-ranging discussion on how to respond to the U.S. Attorney General’s comments about Romans 13 and the separation of immigrant children form their parents. A wide variety of viewpoints were expressed, and the Board unanimously encouraged the General Secretary to write a letter to Mr. Sessions. “I have been amazed at how quickly the letter has garnered support from American Baptists and others across the country, and indeed the globe. Special thanks to Adalia Gutierrez, IM Area Director for Central and South America, for immediately translating it into Spanish. That was very helpful and appropriate,” said Spitzer of the letter.
“Following an illuminated discussion of the Board from both liberal and conservative perspectives, Dr. Spitzer agreed to compose a pastoral letter on behalf of American Baptist Churches USA to Attorney General Sessions expressing opposition to current US Immigration policy. From the inception of our denomination, American Baptist Churches has embraced Christian love for the least of these. It is through each of us, through our church communities, regions, national partners and friends of ABC that we continue to lift up our Baptist faith, hope, and love,” said Parker.