Mission Summit Conversations

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Mission Summit Conversations 2023

The Mission Summit Conversations are an open opportunity for anyone attending the 2023 Biennial Mission Summit to engage in meaningful dialogue around topics of mission and ministry. The Mission Summit Conversations began in 2013 and have been offered at each Biennial since. In 2021 we also launched “Everyday ABC Conversations” as an online version of these conversations. Beyond the Mission Summit Conversations, those attending the Mission Table event on Monday, June 26 will have an opportunity to prioritize areas of emphasis for American Baptists in the future. All Mission Table participants are encouraged to attend the Mission Summit Conversations.

2023 Format

During the 2023 Mission Summit Conversations, participants will have the opportunity to view a documentary film entitled, “Terror and Hope.” Following the viewing of the film in plenary space, participants will be invited to join a small group to engage in dialogue about the film.

Description of the Film

Terror and Hope: The Science of Resilience is a story about children and war. It’s about stress so severe and prolonged it can become toxic. It’s about scientists and humanitarians working to provide hope in what can seem like a pretty hopeless world. And it’s the story of courageous Syrian families raising their children in the face of violence and oppression – their past defined by terror, their future driven by hope. This film is intended for “ “ ages.

Dialogue at the Mission Summit Conversations

After viewing the film, participants will have the opportunity to engage in dialogue by gathering in small groups. Some of the potential issues raised by the film include:

  • Recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria
  • Wars in Ukraine, Myanmar, and other countries
  • Mental health crisis in the U.S.
  • Lingering effects of toxic stress
  • Healing from race based trauma
  • Long term effects of the global pandemic
  • Generational effects of slavery and boarding schools
  • Political divide in the U.S.


On the ABCUSA website, you will finds links to articles that address some of the above issues. Those who would like to prepare themselves for the conversations are encouraged to read one or more of the posted articles at www.abc-usa.org/mission-summit-conversations.


Background and History: Mission Summit Conversations and Denominational Priorities

At the 2021 online Biennial Mission Summit event, there were three online sessions: Mission Summit Conversation on Anti-Racism, Mission Summit Conversation on Unity and Mission Summit Conversation on Congregational Life. In total, 774 people registered to participate in our first online conversation sessions.

In 2019, Mission Summit Conversations were held as Baptist Talk Conversations. Each Biennial, a new component is added to the Conversations in order to enhance the dialogue. At the 2019 event, Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Executive Director Emerita, representing the
National Institute for Civil Discourse will offer a teaching component at the beginning of the session demonstrating how to
engage one another in civil discourse. Following the educational component, participants had an opportunity to engage in
dialogue with one another by choosing one of the conversation topics centered around the ABC priorities or choosing to engage
in civil discourse.

The 2019 choice of topics were:

  • Church mergers, satellites, and shared ministries
  • Cross generational ministry
  • Discipling alternatives to Sunday School
  • Faith and Politics
  • Overcoming barriers to women serving local
  • Racism
  • Selling the building but maintaining the
  • Systemic solutions to poverty
  • Systemic solutions to violence

At the 2017 Biennial Mission Summit, participants and delegates had an opportunity to be a part of “Baptist Talk,” a new outgrowth of the Mission Summit Conversations. “While the purpose of the Mission Summit Conversations is to engage in topics that could become ministry priorities for the denomination, the purpose of Baptist Talk is to increase our understanding and respect for one another as American Baptists,” said C. Jeff Woods, associate general secretary for Regional Ministries and facilitator of the Mission Summit Conversations.

Baptist Talk Conversations will continue at the 2019 Biennial Mission Summit; these sessions will provide an opportunity for persons to share their thoughts, views, ideas, ministries and concerns with one another around topics that they care deeply about.

At the 2017 Biennial Mission Summit in Portland, Oregon, the Mission Summit Conversations showcased seven dedicated rooms for the seven named denominational priorities: Anti-Violence, Discipleship, Ending Poverty, Gospel in a Rapidly Changing Society, Innovative Models of Pastoral Ministry, Next Generation of Leaders and Women in Ministry.

The Mission Summit Conversations have been held in 2013, 2015 and 2017 at the Biennial events as an open opportunity for anyone attending to engage in meaningful dialogue about a topic of interest by self-selecting into a small group. To view case statements (developed at the 2015 Mission Table) for each of the seven denominational priorities, click the topic name below.

  1. Anti-Violence
  2. Discipleship
  3. Ending Poverty
  4. Gospel in a Rapidly Changing Society
  5. Innovative Models of Pastoral Ministry
  6. Next Generation of Leaders
  7. Women in Ministry

At the 2015 Biennial Mission Summit, participants engaged in dialogue around twenty-one topics which had surfaced from local churches, regional events, national agencies and seminaries, as well as feedback from previous Mission Summit Conversations. Review the Learnings from the 2015 Mission Summit and 2015 Mission Table here.

An online survey narrowed the wide range of topics to twenty-one and then 2015 Mission Table attendees (persons from every region, seminary and national agency) identified seven ABC priorities. The American Baptist Churches USA Board of General Ministries decided in 2017 to forego holding a Mission Table, to allow more time to focus upon our current set of priorities. The decision to engage the priorities that were identified at the last Mission Table in November 2015 was an affirmation by the Board of General Ministries Executive Committee and was supported by the Board of General Ministries, recognizing the energy undergirding these priorities.

Work continued on the seven denominational priorities in a variety of different settings throughout American Baptist Churches USA. American Baptist Home Mission Societies and International Ministries are heavily involved in the ABC priorities. Local churches and regions are also actively pursuing the priorities. Associated Ministry Organizations, and the ABCUSA Office of the General Secretary, are committed to working with these priorities.

The Regional Executive Ministers Council (REMC) met in November 2016 for a continuing education event, focusing on the “Next Generation of Leaders,” which was led by Jolene Erlacher, author of “Millennials in Ministry” (Judson Press, 2014). A June 2017 meeting of the REMC focused on another denominational priority, Innovative Models of Pastoral Ministry, and was led by Beth Ann Estock, author of “Weird Church: Welcome to the Twenty-First Century.”