Rev. Dr. Gina C. Jacobs-Strain Installed as General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA

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Rev. Dr. Gina C. Jacobs-Strain Installed as General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA (ABNS 6/24/24)—Rev. Dr. Gina C. Jacobs-Strain was installed as General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA on Thursday evening, June 13, at the Federated Church of Green Lake, Wis.

The installation was an integral part of the American Baptist Churches USA Board of General Ministries meeting, which was held June 12-14 at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wis.

Board of General Ministries directors shared in the opportunity to witness a historical installation with leaders from American Baptist Home Mission Societies, the American Baptist Foundation, American Baptist Women’s Ministries, the American Baptist Extension Corporation, American Baptist International Ministries, the Ministers Council, representatives from the ABC Women’s Caucus, National Black Caucus of ABC, the Intercaucus, local church members from the Federated Church of Green Lake, Wis.,, Mt. Zion Baptist Church and American Baptist women and visitors in person and via live stream.

Jacobs-Strain was joined for the installation service by a many pastors and American Baptist leaders, invited to engage in this moment in American Baptist history.

“To God be the Glory! We planned a worship service that included my installation as the General Secretary for ABCUSA,” said Dr. Jacobs-Strain. “It was a wonderful fellowship and affirmation as the body of Christ worshipped together. I am deeply grateful to the Search Committee for their prayerful work and the board’s affirmation as well as the generosity of everyone that participated in the service, attended in person, and those that joined us via livetream.”

“I am humbled to serve as the General Secretary and honored to be part of ABCUSA, a denomination that continues to celebrate the giftedness of women in a time when our giftedness and call are being denied. Moreover, I am the embodiment of a decision which is foundational for the Northern Baptist Church (now known as ABCUSA), as they divinely discerned and determined human freedom over human ownership honored God.”

“I am aware that I stand on the shoulders of men and women that cleared the path for me; and I am keenly aware of the responsibility to prayerfully continue to advocate for equity, freedom and justice, said Jacobs-Strain. “Together we are trusting God and the work of the Holy Spirit to work in and through us to share the gospel and to fulfill the great commission to make disciples. Finally, I believe that we serve a God of abundance; a God that can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. Our collective witness must convey our persistent joy, stubborn faith and the wonder of God’s infinite and unmerited love, grace and mercy extended to each of us daily.”

A recording of the Installation Service is available through the American Baptist Churches USA YouTube Channel, here:

The persons participating in the installation service represented a tapestry of American Baptist leaders, coming from across the country to participate in this worship and celebration service and the recognition of the new American Baptist Churches USA General Secretary.

A welcome and opening prayer was shared by Rev. Karen Gygax-Rodriguez, pastor of the Federated Church of Green Lake, Wis.

Rev. Dan Schumacher, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Colorado Springs, Col., provided the scripture reading. Rev. Schumacher also noted that as a previous Southern Baptist and following the Southern Baptist Convention’s recent vote and actions related to some churches pastored by women, he was proud to participate in the installation of the first woman as General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA.

Praise Team “Levites of Praise,” introduced by Rev. Dr. Marcus Allen, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Madison, Wis. The group also led all attendees in a singing of “Every Praise” by Hezekiah Walker in the concluding moments of the service.

Rev. Dr. Trinette McCray, president of the National Black Caucus of ABC provided a Presentation of the Black Caucus, and presented Dr. Jacobs-Strain with a gift in commemoration of this moment in history as she was installed as the first woman and first Black leader to lead the denomination as General Secretary.

Rev. Dr. Bernadette Glover, senior pastor of Dr. Jacobs-Strain’s home church, St. Paul Baptist Church in Montclair, N.J., shared the message.

Following the message,  a Charge to ABCUSA Family was given by Rev. Nikita McCalister, president of American Baptist Churches USA.

The denominational prayer was offered by Rev. Steve Bils, executive minister of the American Baptist Churches of the Central Pacific Coast.

The Chair of the General Secretary Search Committee and Past ABCUSA President, Rev. Dr. James Wolfe, provided remarks on behalf of the search committee as well as an Introduction of the Search Committee. Dr Wolfe led the attendees and participants in the Words of Installation which was followed by a response to the Charge by General Secretary Jacobs-Strain.

A prayer of consecration was shared by Rev. Abigaíl Medina Betancourt, national coordinator for Intercultural Engagement with the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, who asked Dr. Jacobs-Strains family to join them in the pulpit, as all attendees and online viewers would join in this prayer for her and for her family who Rev. Medina Betancourt noted, are also in ministry together with her as they support her.

As the service concluded, Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell, executive minister of the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin, gave the benediction.

Following the service of installation, a reception was held by the congregation of the Federated Church of Green Lake, and Katharine Hsiao, president of the Intercaucus, shared a prayer of blessing.

View photos from the service here.

Jacobs-Strain is the first woman, and first Black American, to be called and to be installed to lead the American Baptist Churches USA. The calling and installation come following an affirmation of Women in Ministry positions seen at the 2023 American Baptist Churches Biennial Mission Summit in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in June 2023.

Also in June 2023, American Baptist General Secretary Dr. C. Jeff Woods recently released a statement on June 15 offering support to women in ministerial roles, and on June 24, the board of directors of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies released a statement affirming women pastors.

Historically, American Baptist Churches USA has been supportive of women in ministry roles.

Specifically, the following resolutions and policy statements have lifted up the women in ministry:

American Baptist Resolution on the Empowerment of Women in the American Baptist Churches USA (1977)

American Baptist Resolution on the Equal Rights Amendment (1983)

American Baptist Policy Statement on Women and Men as Partners in Church and Society (1985)

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.