News from American Baptist Churches USA that might be of interest to ABC Ohio.
We are inviting pastors and church leaders to join us Thursday, November 18, 2021 (from 11:30-1:30 ET, 10:30-12:30 CT, 9:30-11:30 MT, 8:30-10:30 PT). Author Tod Bolsinger will be unpacking his book “Canoeing the Mountains” to give vision to how we can be adaptive leaders in times of change. This is a FREE webinar sponsored by ABC Ohio and ABC partner regions. This will be a Zoom Meeting at (copy and paste into your browser): https://ministrelife.zoomus/j/3937664223
Drawing from his extensive experience as a pastor and consultant, Tod Bolsinger brings decades of expertise in guiding churches and organizations through uncharted territory. He offers a combination of illuminating insights and practical tools to help you reimagine what effective leadership looks like in our rapidly changing world.
Explorers Lewis and Clark had to adapt. While they had prepared to find a waterway to the Pacific Ocean, instead they found themselves in the Rocky Mountains. You too may feel that you are leading in a cultural context you were not expecting. You may even feel that your training holds you back more often than it carries you along. Drawing from his extensive experience as a pastor and consultant, Tod Bolsinger brings decades of expertise in guiding churches and organizations through uncharted territory. He offers a combination of illuminating insights and practical tools to help you reimagine what effective leadership looks like in our rapidly changing world. If you’re going to scale the mountains of ministry, you need to leave behind canoes and find new navigational tools.
News from Ann and Bill Clemmer:
We are winding up the relief work that has provided assistance to hundreds after the devastating volcanic eruption in Goma (Democratic Republic of Congo) which destroyed thousands of homes and left tens of thousands homeless. Bill and I were humbled by the gifts that allowed us to buy food, clothing, household items, mattresses, wheelchairs, and even goats to replace items lost....as well as resettle over 50 families and provide counseling to those who have lost so much. Your prayers and your gifts touched our hearts and those whom we serve. We’ve put together a short video (attached) to show a small portion of the large outpouring of love and concern that was received.
Now we’re moving on to other needs. Bill left for Yemen two days ago as part of a relief effort under Lutheran World Relief to bring emergency health and food relief to the tens of thousands displaced by the ongoing civil war. The UN estimites that over 400,000 children may die of starvation in Yemen just this year, a figure that is hard to grasp. We ask for your prayers that he will be enabled and guided in his work. He’ll be returning to Goma in early November. We’re in contact daily.
Rev. Dr. John A. Sundquist, who served as Executive Director of American Baptist International Ministries (IM) from 1989 until 2003, entered fully into the presence of his Lord on Sunday, February 21, from his beloved home at Bethany Beach (in Sawyer, Michigan), at the age of 84. International Ministries joins with his family, friends, disciples, and colleagues all around the globe in giving thanks to God for his life of dedicated service to the cause of Christ.
Rev. Dr. Daniel E. Weiss, who served as General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA from 1988 to 2000, died on Saturday, August 22. Prior to serving as General Secretary, Dr. Weiss was Executive Director of the American Baptist Churches USA Board of Educational Ministries from 1983-1988, and previously served as president of American Baptist-related schools, Eastern College in St. Davids, Pa., and Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, from 1973-1981.
During his tenure as General Secretary, Weiss emphasized a need for members and organizations within the denomination to understand, appreciate and live out the foundational understandings American Baptists long have espoused. He lifted up the call to commitment to Jesus Christ as God’s gift of salvation, and to evangelism and mission undertaken in Jesus’ name; the affirmation of the local church as the fundamental unit of denominational mission; the need for unwavering support of religious and other freedoms; and the importance of understanding, respect and dialog within the diverse American Baptist family.
VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 5/29/20)—On May 29, 2020, Interim General Secretary Dr. C. Jeff Woods published a letter to American Baptists with a message centered around justice and more specifically, racial justice. Read the letter below.
Dear American Baptists,
The death of George Floyd has caused widespread pain, rage, protests, and violence in Minneapolis and across the United States. I appreciate the input received from officers of the Regional Executive Ministers Council, members of the National Executive Council, and others in constructing a response to this event. While American Baptists have never advocated violence, we grieve with those feeling the pent-up pain from years of racial discrimination and injustice. The horrifying video captured at the corner of Chicago Avenue and 38th Street in Minneapolis has released years of frustration that can never be fully understood by those who have not consistently lived with injustice historically and presently.
Acts of current racial injustice as well as the effects of historic racial injustices have been brought into the light in recent weeks as we recognize that African-Americans have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. In a recent study, the Centers for Disease Control found that 45% of individuals for whom race or ethnicity data was available were white, compared to 55% of individuals in the surrounding community and that 33% of hospitalized patients were black compared to 18% in the community. Unequal access to healthcare, jobs, education, and training have all been influenced by the racialized society in which we continue to live.
Unfortunately, acts of violence have been cast upon many ethnically distinct groups within our congregations and among our international partners. Many Chinese as well as Asian-Americans are being targeted, harassed, and even physically attacked because of comments made about COVID-19. In Malaysia, we are hearing reports of the government using information collected from the treatment of persons affected by COVID-19 for deportation despite earlier statements that no one who sought medical services for the coronavirus would be arrested based on their immigration status.
Racism and Xenophobia have deep roots in American history and culture and wrongs cannot be righted overnight. While expeditious action is critical to the pursuit of justice for George Floyd, dialogue, conversation, systemic change, and continued acts of justice to curb the sources of prejudice and discrimination are needed.
In these tense times of ache and agony and stinging memories of bias and wrongdoing, we are called again to combat racism and resist violence. American Baptists have historically advocated against both violence as well as racial injustice. “Our denominational history is rich with resistance against violence. From Roger Williams speaking in defense of First Nations People, to the Abolitionists, down to Walter Rauschenbusch, and Martin Luther King, American Baptists in particular have been on the forefront for the cessation of violence and the coming of Shalom.” (American Baptist Case Statement on Violence from the 2015 Mission Table). I am calling on people of faith to find the resources of the Spirit to calm their anger. “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3, NASV)
Our denominational history is also rich in working toward justice in general and racial justice in particular. “Racial justice,” as defined in our 1989 ABCUSA policy statement, “is recognizing our oneness in Christ, confessing that we have not become what God wants us to be, and committing ourselves to pressing on to that mark of high calling by which we can become a liberating symbol to our nation and world of what it means to be the people of God. In so doing, we can challenge our nation to live up to its high purposes.”
“Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16, NASV) I charge our American Baptist family to continue to search, advocate, and live where the good way lies.
Dr. C. Jeff Woods
Interim General Secretary
American Baptist Churches USA