Everyday ABC Conversations

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We are excited to announce the “Everyday ABC Conversations” series.

Due to the popularity of the recent Mission Summit Conversations in which over 650 American Baptists simultaneously participated in dialogue during the 2021 Biennial Mission Summit, the American Baptist Churches USA is launching this series of dialogues, entitled, “Everyday ABC Conversations.”

Join us for our next Everyday ABC Conversation:

Homelessness and the Housing Crisis

on Monday, June 6, 2022 at 2:00pm EDT

with presenters Jill Scalise and Josh Sabo

Stories about the housing crisis in the USA are regularly in the news. Since the pandemic, home prices and housing costs have skyrocketed in many communities. Do you know folks trying to find an apartment they can afford? Have you juggled bills so that you can pay the rent, keep the electricity on, and buy groceries? Perhaps you know the pain of homelessness. Do you wonder how the church can be God’s hands and feet in our communities? This Everyday Conversation will explore homelessness, the current housing crisis, and our Christian response.

Questions:

  • What is your experience with homelessness?
  • What approaches to addressing homelessness do you see in your community? How are they working?
  • Do you know anyone struggling to find housing right now or who is housing cost burdened? (Housing cost burdened=paying over 30% of income on housing costs)
  • How can you and your church address housing needs in your community?

Jill Scalise currently serves as the Housing Coordinator for the Town of Brewster, developing affordable housing and providing support to residents. Committed to sharing God’s Love in practical ways and believing everyone should have a safe place to call home, Jill has Masters degrees in Social Service and in Law and Social Policy. Over the past 30 years she has worked in Boston, Philadelphia, and Cape Cod to assist folks experiencing homelessness to obtain and maintain housing. Jill, a pastor’s spouse, has been an active member of the Brewster Baptist Mission Team for over 25 years and also served on the Board of Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod.

Josh Sabo serves as the Coordinator of the Heartland Continuum of Care in Springfield, Ill. In this role, Josh works with organizations, government leaders, the local health system, communities of faith, and other community partners with the goal of functionally ending homelessness in Springfield. Previously, Josh was the Lead Pastor of Central Baptist Church in Springfield.

Our third conversation is now available online!

Creation Justice and International Women’s Day

Recorded on Tuesday, March 8, 2022

with presenters Dr. Alan R. Wedgewood and Rev. Rebecca Driscoll, ABC Creation Justice Network

Every day we have the opportunity to be in prayerful conversation with God. What is God saying to each of us about how we have cared for God’s creation? Which of God’s children are bearing the greatest injustices caused by our failure to be good caretakers of our Earth? As we gather for this conversation on International Women’s Day, we will reflect on how environmental degradation has disproportionately impacted women, as well as the ways women have been a prophetic voice for creation justice and restoration. How has the cry of God’s creation moved you, your church, and/or your community to respond? Please join members of the Creation Justice Network in conversation as we ponder how we can work together to create a sustainable home for future generations and learn more about the ministry of the Creation Justice Congregations program.

Click the image below to view a recording of the event, and hear from Dr. Alan R. Wedgewood and Rev. Rebecca Driscoll, ABC Creation Justice Network, as present ahead of the conversations surrounding Creation Justice and International Women’s Day.

Dr. Alan R. Wedgewood worked for over 40 years as Research Engineer and in 2020 retired from DuPont as a technical fellow. A life-long environmentalist, he quickly transitioned to promoting sustainable living and Creation Justice ministry. In 2021, he completed a Climate Change Certification from the University of Pennsylvania and was certified to perform Home Energy Assessments. As a member of the ABCUSA Creation Justice Network, he strives to bring people together to create a sustainable home for future generations.

The Rev. Rebecca Driscoll currently serves as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Attleboro, Mass., and as Minister for Creation Care with the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts. Previously, she served as the first American Baptist Women in Ministry Intern and the ABC Minister for Creation Justice in the ABCUSA Office of the General Secretary. With a passion for community engagement and ecumenical relationship building, Driscoll is a member of the ABC Creation Justice Network’s steering committee and serves on the board of Creation Justice Ministries.

View our second conversation online now, below:

Soul Care @ Christmas

Recorded on Tuesday, November 30, 2021

with Presenters Rev. Betty Wright-Riggins and Rev. Judy Fackenthal, ABCUSA Spiritual Direction Team

How is your soul as we enter this season of Advent and the celebrations associated with all of the expectations that the Christmas holidays bring? Are you joyful, full of expectation, or are you weighted down with disappointment, grief and loss incurred during the pandemic? Are you numb, emotionally spent from living from one world and/or situational crisis to another?

View a recording of the event and hear from Rev. Judy Fackenthal and Rev. Betty Wright-Riggins, both spiritual directors, as they walk with attendees and explore the shimmering gifts of Advent and the promises therein.

Rev. Betty Wright-Riggins is an ordained American Baptist Minister and Certified Spiritual Director. She has served the denomination as Pastor, consultant, executive leader and is a part of the spiritual direction team for the American Baptist Spiritual Director’s Network. She is the Principal of TrustOne, a consultancy ministry for spiritual direction, spiritual formation,  seminars and retreat coordination.

Rev. Judy Fackenthal served as President of American Baptist Churches USA for the 2016-2017 biennium. A native of Indianapolis who retires this month from service as Pastor of Garfield Park Baptist Church, she has sought to live out her understanding of God’s grace and love through many ministry related roles. She is a certified Spiritual Director and plans to continue this ministry into her retirement, walking alongside others in their faith journey.

View the first conversation presentation online below:

Higher Education, the Global Pandemic, and Caring for the Needs of Students

Recorded on Wednesday, October 13, 2021

with Presenters Dr. James “Tim” Barry, 10th president of American Baptist-affiliated Alderson Broaddus University, and Karen Podsiadly, Director of Community Development at The College at Brockport (State University of New York) and President of American Baptist Churches USA.

Dr. James “Tim” Barry has been serving as the 10th president of the Alderson Broaddus University, and American Baptist-affiliated school, since 2015.

Dr. Barry began his higher education administration career in admissions at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Briar Cliff in 1971; and earned both a Master and Doctor of Education in adult continuing education from Northern Illinois University, in 1979 and 1992, respectively.

Read full bio here.

Karen Podsiadly, Director of Community Development at The College at Brockport (State University of New York) and President of American Baptist Churches USA.

Podsiadly was educated at State University of New York College at Geneseo and Western Illinois University with degrees in Sociology and College Student Personnel, respectively. She has served for over twenty-five years in a variety of settings within American Higher Education.

Read more of her bio here.

More About Everyday ABC Conversations

Background and Intent

Since 2013, American Baptists have practiced Mission Summit Conversations at our American Baptist Biennial gatherings. The purpose of these conversations is to provide an opportunity for persons to engage in respectful dialogue about matters of importance. Unlike a traditional conference, the emphasis at the MSC is upon real-time conversation among the meeting’s participants rather than the conference speakers or experts in the room. These conversations are based upon the principle of “fluid expertise” in which everyone in the group is seen as a worthy contributor. As Baptists who hold the beliefs of soul liberty and the priesthood of all believers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in a community of believers, these conversations align with our Baptist identity. MSC create the space for American Baptists to talk about matters of mission and ministry on a grand scale at our national gatherings. The Everyday ABC Conversation Series, offered in this same spirit, is an opportunity to engage in conversations that matter beyond the Mission Summit Biennials.

All conversations take place within a certain time, space, and set of circumstances. The global pandemic that we are currently experiencing will no doubt influence many of our conversations. The pandemic has surfaced enormous stress as well as new opportunities for creativity and innovation. American Baptists and the congregations that we are a part of simply cannot perform some of the familiar functions of pre-pandemic days. Our hope is that whatever topic is on the table, that the conversations moves toward innovation and finding new ways to live out God’s mission in our world.

Format

Each Everyday ABC Conversation will begin with a brief introduction of the topic by one or two leaders associated with the subject area, followed by 30-40 minutes of small group conversation in randomly assigned breakout rooms of 10 persons each. A typical discussion question might be, “What are the implications of what you have just heard for you and your congregation?” with additional relevant discussion questions for each topic.

The entire conversation, including presentation, will last approximately one hour.

Conversation Guidelines

We hope this series brings together American Baptists for conversations without becoming hurtful or polarizing. To maintain a safe space for conversation, remember your ABC’S:

  • A:  Acknowledge differing perspectives. American Baptists come from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds, possess a diverse set of customs, and speak a plethora of languages. Dialogue depends upon the recognition of differences. American Baptists seldom achieve unity through unanimity, but rather through the recognition that differing parts work together to build upon the body of Christ.
  • B: Be a good listener. Pass the active listening test: Listen attentively enough to what is being said and how it is being said that you could recite the essence of what was just said to the satisfaction of the speaker. Listen with curiosity rather than to persuade or correct one another.
  • C: Confidentiality is important. Do not repeat personal stories or those of congregations and institutions. When reporting what happened, be careful not to attribute what was said to specific individuals.
  • S: Speak honestly and responsibly. Try to use “I” statements and own what you are saying.