Summary of Insights, Challenges and Experiments from Mission Summit Conversations (June 2013)

  • Insights
    • Identity is and needs to be: organic/adaptable/adaptive.
    • It’s important to tell those compelling stories of who we are and where we’ve been as a faith based organization.
  • Challenges
    • How can we contextualize our freedom within our history and values? Autonomy comes too easy and is overused.
  • Experiments
    • Each individual needs to have a 90 second elevator speech ready that identifies them personally as to who they are as an American Baptist or even a Christian.
    • Both networking and Social Working could be used as part of this as well as round table discussions as we are doing here – on all levels – national, region, local.
    • Acrostic from Dan Brockway on a coarse he had given ‘Introduction to our Baptist Identity’: ACROSSTIC – COOLIO Baptists are a: C – Community of Disciples O -Obedient to Christ O – Ordained to Ministry L – Living in Freedom I – Independent of the State O – On Behalf of the Gospel.

Summary of Insights, Challenges and Experiments from the Mission Table (November 2013)

  • Insights
    • As we do mission together, our shared identity grows organically.
    • Our American Baptist identity is centered in Christ, but is a web of diverse links joining person to person, so that we are all joined in some way, even though there are parts of the resulting web that would not be joined, if it were not for the intermediate links (i.e., “A” is very far from “Z,” but they belong together because “A” connects to “B” connects to “C” connects to… eventually, “Z”).  This is a web or fabric or tapestry in which very, very few “threads” (beyond Christ) run through all the parts of the whole.
    • Martin Luther King, Jr.’s statement was broader, but applies to us:  “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality”


  • Challenges
    • What does it mean that we so often find ourselves saying “no, not that kind of Baptist”?


  • Experiments/Projects
    • We are a tough “brand” to sell, because our identity is irreducibly complex, rather than simple enough for a sound bite.  Is that true?  Or is it possible to articulate a “pinhead version” of our ABC identity?
    • Pastoral leadership is crucial for forming and sustaining identity – though we recognize also the vital role that can be played by lay leadership who champion ABC identity
    • It may help to see ourselves as an “immigrant” or even “refugee” community:  so many of us have come into the ABC as adults, after beginning or spending time in other denominations.
    • Maybe I cannot tell “our” identity as ABC, but I can tell “my” identity as ABC.


Read the full notes:

Mission Summit Conversations:

Mission Table:

Views expressed are the sole opinion of conversation participants. They do not express the views of American Baptist Churches USA, or individual American Baptist churches. Conversation notes and summaries are shared to allow American Baptists and friends to easily review and use these Mission Summit Conversations and the Mission Table learnings as they wish.