VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 3/26/21)—The tragic killing that included six Asian women in Atlanta hadn’t happened yet when individuals registered for leadership training offered by American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS) Intercultural Ministries. Nonetheless, two days after the tragedy, presenters and participants in the online training took time out of the planned agenda to discuss the crime and pray for victims’ families.
Participants were aware of the need to equip themselves to be effective lay and ordained ministry leaders not only while experiencing a rise in hate crimes in the United States but also while grieving the surge in violence in Myanmar.
“In this season of growing fear and unrest in the Asian-American community, our leaders long to be equipped and find solidarity as we struggle to do ministry together,” says the Rev. Michele Turek, former coordinator of the Alliance of Asian American Baptist Churches. “Whether it be the increase in violence to Asians domestically or the longing for justice and peace overseas, our church families are being deeply impacted by these events.”
Many participants expressed weariness and worry.
“In light of what is going on in Myanmar, it gets harder to pray, making you feel like you are distant from God,” said Dr. May May Latt, interim pastor of Milwaukee Myanmar Christian Fellowship. “Coming together in these trainings helps us to stay focused and encouraged.”
Presenters the Rev. Dr. Timothy Geoffrion and the Rev. Dr. Gerald Mann offered inspiration and instruction from decades of ministry with Asian leaders in the United States and abroad. The principles they shared included cultivating one’s spiritual life because that is one’s source of power; assessing whether God’s or one’s own purpose is being served; great leaders are great listeners; and leadership, like discipleship, begins with one’s relationship with Jesus Christ.
ABHMS is continuing to virtually convene leaders to address the increasing incidents of violence and racial injustice in our nation. In April, leaders will learn about “Reimagining Discipleship and Christian Education” with the Rev. Dr. Lone Lazum and Dr. Jae Kim. In May, Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock will offer “Trauma & Healing in a Wounded Community.”
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.