GREEN LAKE, WI (6/17/22)—The American Baptist Churches Board of General Ministries met June 13-15, 2022, at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wis.
“The sacred space that is Green Lake was host to the sacred work and worship of the Board of General Ministries as we met for our June meeting. In the work of sharing reports and making decisions the board shared times of deep fellowship and commitment to Christ and the American Baptist family. We celebrated our rich diversity and anticipate God’s awesome vision for our future,” said ABCUSA President Rev. Dr. James O. Wolfe.
General Secretary Jeff Woods gave a report highlighting the focus of the American Baptist Churches USA Office of the General Secretary on gathering the denomination; supporting congregations, regions and national organizations; and creating space for local and global issues.
“I am grateful for the tremendous work of board members and staff to continue to advance these mission priorities. ABCUSA engages in this work with persons from the entire American Baptists family for all American Baptists,” said Woods.
Woods highlighted gathering the denomination through the “Radical. Redeemed. Ready.” conference hosted by American Baptist Women in Ministry, a ministry of the Office of the General Secretary. The conference began directly following the board meeting and runs from June 15-18, 2022, also at Green Lake Conference Center.
Woods introduced newest staff member Rev. Soozi Whitten Ford, interim associate general secretary for Regional Ministries, who has begun serving regions as a part of our emphasis of supporting churches, regional and national entities.
He also shared about recent efforts around creating space for local and global issues, including the formation of a Task Force on Interpreting the Impact of COVID-19 on Congregations, recent Everyday ABC Conversations held around the topics of “Homelessness and the Housing Crisis” and “Creation Justice and International Women’s Day,” and continued work around the establishment of an Anti-Racism Convening Table, which includes representative members from American Baptist partners.
Vice President Michelle Nickens gave the report of the Board of General Ministries Executive Committee.
“In March 2022 the BGM Executive Committee met in Phoenix, Arizona. While there we had lunch with several ministers and their spouses from the region. The business we conduct during the quarterly Board of General Ministries Executive Committee meetings is important, but the location where it takes place is also important,” said Nickens. “We intentionally hold the Executive Committee meetings in different regions of the country so that we can spend some time with the people of that area. This allows us to learn about the work they are doing, and also to hear their concerns. It is during those local conversations that I feel most energized in the role of Vice President. ABCUSA is a broad denomination in which we might hold differing opinions and speak different languages. We might vary in our theology and come from diverse cultural backgrounds. And yet there is still great unity, conviction and direction that comes from meeting together to learn about the work that God is doing in us and through us as a denomination.”
The Board of General Ministries heard a report of the General Secretary Search Committee from ABC President and Committee Chair, Rev. Dr. James O. Wolfe, and Budget Review Officer Paul Higgins gave the report of the Budget Review Officer, noting the recent completion of a clean audit opinion for the ABCUSA Office of the General Secretary.
On the final morning of the meetings, action group committee members from the board’s sub-groups (Beloved Community, Communicating ABC Identity, BGM Finance Committee, and the Committee on Christian Unity and Interfaith Relations) reported on the work of these sub-groups done over two session times held amidst the larger meeting. All of these groups continue to work to articulate responsibilities and benefits of people serving on their respective body.
Planning for the 2023 Biennial Mission Summit was highlighted by Tina Kiernan, Biennial Mission Summit program coordinator, who noted that the event taking place June 23-25, 2023, at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico is just over one year away. More information will be available on the ABCUSA website and at www.americanbaptists2023.com in the coming months, with registration expected to open in mid-late fall.
BGM Chaplain Rev. Dr. Cedric Jones led a Vespers service on Tuesday evening, June 14, celebrating the diversity of American Baptists and their many ways of worshiping. The meeting concluded in Wednesday morning, June 15, with a communion service led by Jones.
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.