VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 12/18/19)—In keeping with its historic mission and strategic priorities of cultivating leaders, equipping disciples, and healing and transforming communities, American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) distributed $1,932,000 to 328 partners throughout the United States and Puerto Rico this year.
Awarded grants include educational scholarships and support for children of incarcerated parents; after-school programs; Christian camping programs; vacation Bible school; leader and chaplain development and innovation; job-skills training; addiction recovery; and natural disaster relief.
“ABHMS is attentive and responsive to the rapidly changing landscape of mission in America,” says ABHMS Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Haggray. “We want everyone to see that ABHMS is intentional in awarding grants to partners who have demonstrated an eagerness to partner with us. It is the sacrificial investment of previous and present generations that makes transformative ministry possible for coast-to-coast impact.”
ABHMS is committed to supporting education, whether in academic programs or continuing education opportunities. As one grant recipient wrote, “Thank you so much for your dedication to providing enriching experiences for clergy and students. It’s so encouraging that our denomination cares enough about us to invest in our overall well-being and our futures.” For the 2018–2019 school year, 234 college and seminary students received scholarships totaling $246,875; 191 continuing education grants totaled $57,800.
A collaboration among ABHMS’ Rizpah’s Children, the Children’s Defense Fund (CDC) and Somerset Academy Early Learning Center, Philadelphia, Pa., provided a Freedom School—a CDC-designed summer literacy and cultural enrichment program—for 70 children. Student servant intern Krystal Maldonado, Pennsylvania State University, Abington, says: “Students often lose a lot of progress over the summer. Our hope was to try to keep the reading and writing going.” ABHMS is developing plans for three Freedom Schools in 2020.
Bob Burdette Center, Charleston, W.Va.—another ABHMS Rizpah’s Children partner—worked with an elementary school to provide behavioral and coping-skills development, increasing outreach from 130 to 170 students. According to a school administrator, “The work Bob Burdette Center does with children allows teachers to focus more on the academics with students, instead of spending time addressing the behavioral challenges.”
ABHMS provides stipends to volunteers who serve long-term with various ABHMS mission partners. Robin Walker—a five-year, full-time residential volunteer at Kodiak (Alaska) Baptist Mission—says, “The stipend I receive from ABHMS helps me with living expenses and food.”
Through the Louise Burchard Pierce Memorial Fund, ABHMS provided a grant to Vick Pathfinder Camp and Conferences in New York State to help churches provide scholarships to school-aged summer campers. Lakeville Baptist Church in Cossayuna, N.Y., initially offered scholarships to two boys in their community, a move that made a difference, not only in the lives of the campers, but also in campers’ families and in the church. According to Pastor Sandra Spaulding, “I received thank you notes for the church from both boys . . . a great encouragement for our small church. As a result of the story of these two boys, Lakeville Baptist then stepped out and paid part of the expenses for two girls to go to Pathfinder, too!”
ABHMS intentionally invested in the God-inspired vision of six leaders from California to Massachusetts who applied to participate in ABHMS’ inaugural Co-Creators Incubator, which focuses on changing models of ministry. While fostering collegiality, the incubator provided Co-Creators with resources to develop their ideas or enhance their ministries, matching them with creative partners who may provide long-term financial and other support. A new cohort of Co-Creators will form in 2021.
Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico is an ongoing recovery effort from 2017’s hurricanes Maria and Irma. In 2017 and 2018, $575,000 was disbursed. Through November 2019, $315,700 was provided for care of communities, residential and church repairs, and training for post-trauma mental health care.
ABHMS disbursed $305,000 from One Great Hour of Sharing funds in response to numerous 2019 disasters: historic flooding in Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas and Oklahoma; damaging tornadoes in Joplin, Mo., and Dayton, Ohio; and wildfires in Napa, Calif. In each community, ABHMS worked with regional staff to provide emergency aid. Additionally, funds were sent to partners in Panama City, Fla., Houston, Texas, and New Jersey committed to rebuilding from hurricanes Michael, Harvey and Sandy.
ABHMS purchased two shower/laundry trailers maintained by ABMEN. One trailer was placed in King Lake, Neb., where flooding caused extensive damage to almost all homes. Most residents were living in campers or tents in their yards while conducting clean up and repair. The trailer provided residents access to shower and laundry facilities at a time when these services were not available from any other source.
Additional areas of support included ABCUSA regions, ecumenical partners and the Lilly Endowment-funded In Support of Excellence program.
Your gifts to the America for Christ Offering, One Great Hour of Sharing, and the ABHMS Passionary Fund contribute to fulfilling ABHMS’ vision of sharing the Good News and loving our neighbors.
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.