Following mingling and hors d’oeuvres, the formal program was opened by the Rev. Dr. Clifford I. Johnson, president of ABHMS’ board of directors.
“We are excited about this day,” he said. “Because this day represents that, when God gives you a vision, in spite of the challenges, God sees it through.”
Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins III, ABHMS executive director emeritus, led the dedicatory prayer. Addressing God, he said, “While we know that there is no building or any space that can contain all of your glory, we are grateful to get a glimpse of your glory here.”
The occasion had been fittingly named “Welcome Home: Marking a Milestone in Mission,” noted Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, adding “because the Home Mission Societies has historically functioned as a home base for Baptists in mission and ministry across the United States and Puerto Rico.”
While the event marked the milestone of a new building from which ABHMS would continue to cultivate leaders, equip disciples, and heal and transform communities, the organization’s milestones since its founding in 1832 are too numerous to mention, Haggray said.
An overview of the building’s renovation was provided by Michaele Birdsall, deputy executive director, treasurer and chief financial officer, who had served as internal project lead.
“This project has been a long time coming,” she said. “Lots and lots of prayers.”
Haggray announced that a conservatory-grade Yamaha C1 Baby Grand Piano for use in ABHMS worship was donated by Birdsall and her eight sisters in honor of their late mother, Carol Chatters Dolliole Rodney, who was a piano teacher.
A naming and dedication litany was led by the Rev. Dr. Mia Chang, ABHMS board member and pastor of NextGen Church, West Windsor, N.J. The Rev. LaThelma Yenn-Batah, associate executive director of American Baptist Women’s Ministries, sang “Bless this House.”
In addition, the event included a catered reception, building tours and instrumental music by the praise-and-worship band from St. Paul’s Baptist Church, West Chester, Pa. Many attendees exchanged greetings of “welcome home.”
In October 2018, American Baptist Women’s Ministries and The American Baptist Extension Corporation joined ABHMS in moving to the space at 1075 First Ave. Part of the building is occupied by ABHMS tenant Industrial Color Studios.
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.