The latest news from many resources for American Baptist Churches.

The Passing of Rev. Dr. Lawrence O. Swain

Dear Friends,

It is with profound sadness that we share with you the unexpected passing of Rev. Dr. Larry Swain last evening.  He and Linda were visiting family in Kansas City. 

Dr. Swain served as an Area Minister and later Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of Ohio until his retirement in December 2015.  He returned last year to serve as ABC Ohio’s Interim Executive Minister after the death of Dr. Ernest Jones.   He was serving as Executive Staff Coach for the Region at the time of his passing.  Dr. Swain was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend, outstanding leader, and man of God. 

No information is yet available about calling hours or funeral.  We will forward that information to you when it is announced.

In Christ,

Rev. Mark Click
Rev. Jane Gibbons
Executive Ministers

Collaborating to Provide Mattresses for Clients of ABHMS Partnering Organization

The importance of sleep is indisputable—especially as it relates to the developing minds and bodies of children and teens. That’s the reason that Mahoning Valley Baptist Association (MVBA), Youngstown, Ohio, partnered with the Campbell, Ohio-headquartered Heart Reach Neighborhood Ministries to provide mattresses to families in the low-income Youngstown metropolitan area. Heart Reach Neighborhood Ministries is a partner of American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS) Community Outreach Ministries.

The organizations had learned from a Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority survey that only 40 percent of apartments in the Kirwan Homes development, Campbell, had enough beds for the number of occupants.

“Children are sleeping on couches, chairs and, in some cases, extra clothing piles on the floor,” wrote Dr. Rudy Braydich, MVBA president, in a report to ABHMS. “Proper sleep translates into better attention in school and reduced health issues.”

MVBA churches raised money to purchase mattresses. Clients from Heart Reach Neighborhood Ministries’ three community centers—Kirwan Homes Community Center; Rockford Village Community Center, Youngstown; and Youngstown West Side Community Center—were invited to apply to receive mattresses. Volunteers from MVBA churches delivered 104 mattresses to residents’ doors.

Read more: Collaborating to Provide Mattresses for Clients of ABHMS Partnering Organization

The Collective Conscience of our Country: A Pastoral Letter from ABCUSA General Secretary Lee Spitzer

Read a pastoral letter from General Secretary Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer, published August 5, 2019, below. If you would like download a printable copy, please click here.

“The Collective Conscience of our Country”
A Pastoral Update from the General Secretary
August 5, 2019

Dear ABCUSA Family,

TWENTY dead, 26 wounded.
NINE dead, 27 wounded.

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), I find myself once again writing to our churches and leaders in reaction to horrific mass shootings. El Paso, Texas. Dayton, Ohio. In just a few minutes of violence, 29 people lost their lives, and 53 others were injured.

Like Virginia Beach (where we met in June) and many other cities before this weekend, these mass shootings continue to challenge the collective conscience of our country. These outbreaks of evil are not normal, and must not become normative. Communities in every geographical sector of our country have been victimized. As a spiritual family dedicated to serving as witnesses to the peaceable kingdom of Jesus, we must not become numb to the pain of people who have suffered loss, be tempted to rationalize away the hate, racism and prejudice behind most of these attacks, or give in to a despair which prevents us from embracing solutions to the underlying challenges symbolized by these events.

We need to speak out in Jesus’ name. In June, 78 ABC national leaders, regional executive ministers and I expressed our collective solidarity with the people of Virginia Beach in a public letter published in the leading local newspaper, as approximately 1,400 American Baptists gathered in that city for the 2019 Biennial Mission Summit.

Read more: The Collective Conscience of our Country: A Pastoral Letter from ABCUSA General Secretary Lee...

Rev. Dr. Morris W. Lee Sr. Transitions to His Heavenly Home


Rev. Dr. Morris W. Lee Sr., 83 made a transition to his heavenly home Friday, July 26, 2019, surrounded by his family.

The Rev. Dr. Morris W. Lee was born Oct. 19, 1935, in Isle of Wight County, Va., son of Peter H. and Nannie Crocker Lee, and was reared in Portsmouth, Va., where he attended the public schools.

He attended Virginia Union University in Richmond, Va., receiving an A.B. degree in History. He then attended the Graduate School of Religion for three years and finished Cum Laude with a Master of Divinity degree.

Rev. Dr. Lee served from 1957 to 1960 as minister of the Jerusalem Baptist Church of Doswell, Va. In September of 1960, he was called to pastorate of the Third Baptist Church of Youngstown, succeeding the late Dr. S.S. Booker, where he was currently still serving as Pastor up until his death.

Dr. Lee has participated in many activities of civic, community and ecclesiastical nature in the Youngstown area as well as in a large arena. He had served as a member of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, of the Home Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention, the Executive Board of the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention, the Board of Trustees of the American Churches of Ohio and the Ohio Council of Churches. 

He has been moderator of the Northern Ohio Baptist District Association, Director of Music for the Ohio General Baptist Convention, chairman of the Trumbull Baptist Neighborhood Ministries Committee, president of the Youngstown Ministerial Association and president of the Mahoning Valley Council of Churches.

Dr. Lee taught for several years in the Youngstown Extension of American Baptist Theological Seminary of Nashville, Tenn., in the Black Studies Program of Youngstown State University. He received an Doctor of Divinity degree from Virginia Union University. He completed course requirements toward a Doctorate in Ministry from Ashland University.

Dr. Lee married the love of his life, the former Beverly A. Chambliss, on June 11, 1966, and from their union they had two children, Morris W. Lee Jr. and Miriam M. Lee, both of Youngstown; one grandchild, JoLisa Collier-Lee; and a special granddaughter, Chelsea Anderson; two godsons, Michael (Cordella) Torbert of Mechanicsville, Md., and Craig McDowell of Syracuse, N.Y.; two special friends that were like siblings, Geneva Mason and Howard Pincham; along with a host of close cousins, friends all across the community, his beloved Third Baptist Church family; and his beloved cat, Zuri.

We lift up the Morris family in our prayers during this time.