VALLEY FORGE, PA (1/7/21)—Interim General Secretary Dr. C. Jeff Woods and ABCUSA President Karen Podsiadly released a statement to American Baptists on January 7, following a day of unrest in Washington, D.C. at the United States Capitol building. Read the statement below.
The events of yesterday will live with us for many years. Scenes of persons storming the Capitol cannot be unseen. The events serve as a piercing remembrance that there are deep-seated differences among us. There are issues that we must address and are addressing including racism, poverty, and a global pandemic.
We do have a choice, however, in how we respond. These events remind us of our country’s division on many issues. The depths of the division have become increasingly evident and have stalled our ability to make the world a better place for all. As we have found during the COVID-19 crisis, opportunities can outweigh challenges even in the bleakest of moments. As recent as the past two days, we have heard inspiring stories of ministry overcoming circumstances throughout 2020.
American Baptists are in a unique position to serve as examples when addressing difficult issues. We never purport to tell one another what to think or how to act. Our ethnic diversity is a strength as we strive toward inclusion. Our processes and practices lend themselves to consensus. As Baptists, we dialogue. We discern. And then we act for peace and justice. We do not just work on the issues of today. We work on the issues of tomorrow.
Whether the events of yesterday are an end to something or a beginning of something is up to us. We can work to end the negative banter and explosive rhetoric that pervade our conversations and systems. Putting our passions to work on the problems of society and being driven to make a better world are admirable aims. But, there is an even better way of tackling our problems. As Christians, we should never limit our capacity to human strength and endurance.
Yesterday evening, we participated in a prayer service sponsored by the North American Baptist Fellowship, Lott Carey Foreign Mission Society, Baptist Joint Committee, Mid-Atlantic Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, NorthStar Church Network, and the American Baptist Churches USA. Dr. Trisha Manarin, our recently installed Executive Minister/Director of the DC Baptist Convention organized and hosted the event. During the time of prayer, we were once again moved by the comfort, conviction, and capacity of prayer. We have much work to do, but our work will always be secondary to the one who saves and sustains, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The fact that these alarming events occurred at all, but notably on Dia de los Reyes/Epiphany, is a reminder that our human activities are always secondary to the works of God. While we serve as the hands and feet of Christ, the energy to do our work comes from being Spirit-filled. May the Lord continue to manifest the pathway to peace, and may it be a path that surpasses all understanding. The year of 2021 has just begun. There is plenty of time to make this year a year of increased understanding, renewed hope, commitment to anti-racism, and greater works fueled by the Holy Spirit.
American Baptist Churches USA
Dr. C. Jeff Woods
Interim General Secretary
American Baptist Churches USA
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.