VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 6/9/21)—In a report to the board of directors at its virtual meeting June 7-8, the Rev. Rothangliani Chhangte, senior associate for Strategic Initiatives and Relationships, said American Baptist Home Mission Societies distributed more than $3 million in grants last year.
Included in that total is $637,577 earmarked for disaster recovery and more than $1 million in program grants distributed to Community Outreach Ministries, Rizpah’s Children partners, Intercultural Ministries partners and financial aid scholarships, among others. Additionally, $317,226 was awarded to 108 American Baptist-related partners and organizations for COVID-19 relief May 2020–May 2021. Most COVID-19 relief ministries funded supported hunger initiatives; the majority of recipients were children and the elderly.
“We see grant-making as an extension of mission and ministry,” said Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, ABHMS executive director, “as we seek to develop in-depth relationships with ministries that receive support.” In his remarks, Haggray announced the launch of the Center for Continuous Learning (CCL), an online hub for practical mission education. “We take seriously that folks in our churches want to be trained for ministry,” he said.
The Rev. Rebecca Irwin-Diehl, CCL director, introduced the center to the board, pointing out it is “committed to empowering all of God’s people for today’s real-life challenges.” Learning opportunities, she said, will feature events, webinars, training and courses such as Cultural Humility and Mission Trip Orientation. The summer curriculum features an ABC Reads Book Study and a Grant Writing Workshop; fall offerings include Chaplaincy Skills Training, a Discipleship Summit and Journeys Advent Study. The center’s physical space in ABHMS’ Leadership and Mission Building in King of Prussia, Pa., is scheduled to open in September.
In her report, President the Rev. Jamie Washam lifted up the continuing work of ABHMS in the midst of a yearlong pandemic. “I want to give real kudos to the staff who have worked so diligently; the work has continued in the new configuration of working remotely,” she said. “We have all benefited from Zoom access; we are still equipping our pastors to be more solvent financially, and the work in Puerto Rico has never stopped.”
The Rev. F. Salvador Orellana—director of Intercultural Ministries, Latino Ministries and Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico—reported on the impact of ministry in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Since 2018, he said, more than 1,300 volunteers have invested close to 40,000 hours in restoring and rebuilding more than 150 sites on the island. “We started rebuilding churches; then we rebuilt houses, I would say homes. But we not only rebuilt homes, we also rebuilt lives,” he said.
In other business, the board voted to name a new director—Vincent Ross of Salem Baptist Church, Philadelphia.
In closing, board members honored Haggray—who preached his first sermon on Father’s Day in 1981—as he celebrates 40 years of licensed ministry. “Forty years of ministry has been a blessing,” Haggray said. “God has been good.”
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.