On Friday, the Rev. LeDayne McLeese Polaski, recently retired executive director of BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz, received the Edwin T. Dahlberg Peace and Justice Award for outstanding work for peace and justice, courageous leadership and compassionate Christian witness for and with individuals marginalized in the United States and around the globe. The Rev. Dr. Richard P. Olson, author of “Side by Side: Being Christian in a Multifaith World” (Judson Press, 2018), received the Suzan Johnson Cook Religious Freedom Award for leadership in defending God-given religious liberty for all.
The awards were presented by ABHMS Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, along with the Rev. Dr. Clifford I. Johnson, president of ABHMS’ board; Wendy Hagn, board vice president; and the Rev. Jamie Washam, incoming board president.
In addition, during worship, an offering was collected for ABHMS’ ongoing “Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico” initiative.
During ABHMS’ “Celebrating Emerging Leaders + Innovative Models of Ministry”-themed luncheon on Saturday, the Rev. Anne J. Scalfaro, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Denver, presented about her church’s New Baptist Covenant-based racial reconciliation partnership with New Hope Baptist Church, Denver.
“Is what we’re doing really that innovative?” she asked rhetorically. “Perhaps what is innovative is that we are sticking to it, and we’re not giving up.”
Sheena D. Rolle, community organizer, trainer and founder of FHJ Strategies Inc., referenced Hebrews 11:1, while discussing faith as belief in things yet unseen. She asked attendees to close their eyes, envision themselves in a place of comfort and tune in to what God is saying.
Also during the luncheon, Haggray announced the formal launch of ministrElife, the online networking platform that ABHMS created for American Baptist pastors and lay leaders. It had been in the user testing phase since November 2018.
“We cannot all see each other on a regular basis,” Haggray said. “But we have now created a technical platform that allows us to visit each other every day.”
During the luncheon, Lt. Col. Dr. Ruth Segres, chief of Chaplain Accessions, U.S. Air Force, received the Cultivating Leaders Award for sharing comfort, support and God’s love with individuals during the most difficult and challenging situations and crises. The Rev. Donald Ng, mentor for American Baptist Churches USA’s Young Adult Caucus, received the Equipping Disciples Award for faithful, effective and innovative leadership in Christian education that spans from faith commitment to spiritual maturity.
On Saturday, ABHMS hosted two Biennial Academy offerings. In the morning, the Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, senior pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, presented “Jesus Was An Inmate: A Movement to End Mass Incarceration.” Warnock, his church—spiritual home of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—and its multi-faith partners, are seeking, he said, “to build a national multifaith multiracial movement to end the scourge of mass incarceration in our country.
“I see it as one of the most pressing moral issues of our time,” he added.
Joined by the Rev. Billy Honor Jr., faith coordinator at The New Georgia Project, and attorney Tiffany Williams Roberts, Ebenezer’s social justice chair and Community Engagement & Movement Building Counsel at the Southern Center for Human Rights, Warnock showed the ways in which what he called the “tentacles of the carceral state” influence other issues.
On Saturday afternoon, the Rev. Dr. Marilyn P. Turner-Triplett, ABHMS director, Healing and Transforming Communities, presented “Whole, Healthy, Hopeful Children in Every Community.” She was joined by the executive directors of three ABHMS partnering organizations: the Rev. Carmen Porco, Housing Ministries of American Baptists in Wisconsin; Jennifer Muniga, Cameron Community Ministries, Rochester, N.Y.; and Jermaine Alberty, Pathways to Promise, St. Louis, Mo.
During an ice cream social on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the launch of ministrElife, Jill Duroseau, ministrElife team lead, randomly drew the name of a ministrElife registrant as winner of a Microsoft Surface Pro 6 two-in-one laptop/tablet. The winner was the Rev. Dr. Marcia Patton, retired executive minister of the Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches.
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.