February 2018

A monthly newsletter to keep you informed about ABCUSA

Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico - ABCUSA Sister Churches Initiative Announced

Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico Executive Minister Rev. Edgardo M. Caraballo MarĂ­n and  American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) General Secretary Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer are pleased to invite churches throughout our country to sign up to participate in the Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico - ABCUSA Sister Churches Initiative. The Sister Churches Initiative offers U.S. mainland churches the opportunity to befriend and express solidarity with Puerto Rican American Baptist congregations.

The initiative is coordinated by ABCUSA's Office of the General Secretary and Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico. Churches are invited to sign-up as sister congregations from U.S. mainland churches-up to three churches for each church from Puerto Rico, ideally hailing from different ABC regions-will be secured via an online registration form. Congregations will be matched primarily by congregation size (up to 100, between 101-200, and over 200).

Click here for more information.
A Higher Way: American Baptists and Our Neighbors

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" and, "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Luke 10:27)

American Baptist Churches USA General Secretary Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer published a pastoral letter in early February entitled, "A Higher Way: American Baptists and Our Neighbors." Read the full letter here. If you would like download a printable copy, please click here.

The letter was translated into Spanish by the ABC region Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico - read the letter here: " Una manera mas alta: Bautistas Americanos y nuestros vecinos."

American Baptist Women's Ministries Calls New Executive Director

The national board of managers of American Baptist Women's Ministries (ABWM) announced on Tuesday, January 23, 2018, that the Rev. Gina C. Jacobs-Strain accepted its invitation and call to the position of Executive Director and will lead the national organization following the retirement of Virginia R. Holmstrom on March 1. Jacobs-Strain began her employment on February 1 as executive director-elect, which has provided a month-long period of orientation with Holmstrom and the ABWM staff.

Board President Rev. Angel L. Sullivan, who chaired the search committee, said, "Gina entered into the interview with a sense of excitement and humility. In response to a question asked, Gina said, 'Sometimes you have to walk in front of people to help them to be their best selves and sometimes you have to walk in someone's shadow so you can become your best self. This is my hope for American Baptist Women's Ministries.' It became quickly apparent that Gina has a deep relationship with God and love for American Baptist women. After prayer and an invitation of the Holy Spirit to guide our decision, the national board unanimously called Gina to become our next Executive Director. I am truly excited to see how God will use her to continue the great legacy of leadership and kingdom building with American Baptist Women."

Where You Find Responsible Stewardship You Find Responsive Mission

A team working together around the challenge of stewardship in the 21st century has worked hard over the past eighteen months to put together "The Generosity Project," a pilot program running from Sept. 2017 - Dec. 2018 which will work to provide stewardship resources and support to a cohort group of pastors from New England regions. Members of the team have prepared blogs for "The Generosity Project" participants, which will also be shared on the ABCUSA website in the coming months.   To learn more about The Generosity Project, click here.

In February, team member Lisa Harris-Lee, director of Mission Engagement and National Network Initiatives for the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, provides her thoughts about stewardship and giving.

Read Harris' reflections, here and here.
American Baptists Visit Puerto Rico on Pastoral and Mission Fact-Finding Trip

A delegation of American Baptists and partners led by American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) and American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) traveled to Puerto Rico January 26-29, 2018, to meet with pastoral and lay leaders to survey damage and devastation caused by last year's hurricanes Irma and Maria. The delegation, invited by ABCUSA General Secretary Lee B. Spitzer, brought together members of a Puerto Rico Roundtable on the pastoral and mission fact-finding trip.

Leaders of the region Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico met with the delegation throughout the four-day visit, coordinated by Victoria Goff, ABHMS associate director of Mission Advancement and Passionary Movement and director of Disaster Recovery for Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico, and Salvador Orellana, ABHMS national coordinator of Latino Ministries and deputy director of Logistics and Relationships for the Puerto Rico initiative.

Learn more.

Third National Baptist-Muslim Dialogue to Meet in April 2018

The third national dialogue between Baptists and Muslims will be held April 16-19, 2018, at the Green Lake Conference Center/American Baptist Assembly in Green Lake, Wis.

The target group for the third dialogue is Baptist and Muslim religious leaders fifty years of age and younger who, together with their congregations*, are willing to pair with others to build long-term relationships, foster mutual understanding and participate in a joint project to enhance the welfare of their community. The dialogue is not between individual religious leaders alone. The goal of the dialogue is to partner a Baptist congregational* leader and a Muslim congregational* leader in a community, and their two congregations*, for an ongoing relationship.

Read more.
Celebrating the 85th Anniversary of Love Gift

In 1932 when American Baptist Churches faced a large deficit, individuals were asked to give financial contributions in excess of their tithes and pledges. Women, specifically, were challenged to raise funding to help meet the crisis. Receiving the challenge, women began the over-and-above contribution called Love Gift that continues today.

Love Gift is an initiative of women across American Baptist Churches USA to help support the full range of American Baptist mission. Love Gift is a gift to United Mission and supports American Baptist mission and ministry.

American Baptist Women's Ministries receives United Mission dollars equivalent to 15 percent of Love Gift, which helps empower vital ministries for women and girls in American Baptist congregations, including the AB GIRLS ministry, a new advisory team of young adult women, and mission projects that bring hope and wholeness to women and girls worldwide.

New Love Gift boxes were produced to celebrate this anniversary. To order Love Gift boxes for your church, email ABCResources@abc-usa.org. Or, give to Love Gift here.
Prayer for Puerto Rico and the Sister Churches Initiative

This month we ask for prayer for the churches which will enter in to Sister Church relationships, both in Puerto Rico and in the United States.

The beginning of the Sister Churches Covenant states: " Guided by the Holy Spirit and moved by the love of Christ, we journey in covenant with one another as American Baptist brothers and sisters. Given the needs and challenges experienced by our churches in Puerto Rico due to recent hurricanes, and the incredible strength they have expressed through faith in Christ, we endeavor to encourage each other as a denominational family."

Please hold churches from Puerto Rico and the United States in your prayers as they join in relationships together, connected through friendship, prayer and support.
Recent Highlights from the ABCUSA Website

Ministers Council Announces New Member Services Coordinator Position to Serve Members

ABHMS Seeks Volunteers for Projects Across U.S. Mainland, Puerto Rico

Rev. Dr. Fred W. Thompson Jr., Former Associate General Secretary for Regional Ministries, Dies

Judson Press Title Helps Christians Relate to a Religiously Diverse World

ABHMS' Initial 'Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico' Fundraising Goal is Surpassed; Great Need Remains

Rev. Dr. Ernest H. Jones Dies; Served as ABC of Ohio Executive Minister

ABHMS Website to Feature Prominent Individuals for Black, Women's History Months

International Ministries to Move to New Offices on February 2

Newly Endorsed Missionary Couple Slated to Serve Tribal Women and Children in Thailand

Judson Press Book Offers New Approaches to Christian Education & Discipleship with Black Millennials

New Book Chronicles the Life of Ann Hasseltine Judson

American Baptist Churches USA
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