December 2021



A monthly newsletter to keep you informed about ABCUSA

Merry Christmas from the

ABCUSA Office of the General Secretary

You're Invited to a Christmas Concert

During the season of advent, we celebrate the fact that Christ comes to each of us in very unique ways.


Featuring American Baptist celebrations from across the country, watch the American Baptist Churches USA Christmas Concert live with us on Sunday, December 19 at 8:00 p.m. ET on our ABCUSA Facebook page. Thereafter, view the concert on our website at at your convenience.


American Baptists Collect One Great Hour of Sharing Donations in Response to Recent Tornadoes

American Baptists hold in prayer Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois, where at least 38 tornadoes recently caused significant damage and the tragic loss of lives. More than 70 deaths have been reported and persons are still missing.

“We are in communication with American Baptist regional leaders and partners,” says the Rev. Dr. Kadia Edwards, ABHMS’ national coordinator, Volunteer Mobilization & Disaster-response Ministries. “The loss of life and extent of damage tied to these tornadoes has been especially devastating during this Advent season. May we hold those who are experiencing loss in our prayers. We have heard from American Baptists who are ready to offer support, and we encourage the use of traditional channels of support.”

How you can help

Please pray for relief efforts in the affected regions.

Make a gift, noting "OGHS–Central Tornado” in the comments section.

Read more here.

Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

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We invite you to join us through the 2021 Advent Season. Reflections will be posted prior to each Sunday throughout this season of Advent, and prior to Christmas.

The reflection for the fourth Sunday of Advent is provided by ABCUSA President (2014-2015) Rev. Dr. Don Ng – we invite you to view it, and other reflections, on our website here.

American Baptist Leaders Release “You Are Special” Storybook Video

American Baptist Churches USA is pleased to offer a children’s storybook video for the American Baptist family based upon the book, “You are Special” by Max Lucado with illustrations by Sergio Martinez. Members of the National Executive Council provided the voices and narration for the story and director Jonathan Wu produced the video. The story tells of a group of Wemmicks who live in a community where people place dots on one another for bad things and stars on one another for doing good things. One of the members of the community, Punichello, notices that Lucia has no stars or dots and sets out on a journey to discover how this is possible. While the video is drawn from a children’s book, the message is one for all ages. View the video here.

The National Executive Council is comprised of the leaders of American Baptist Home Mission Societies, American Baptist International Ministries, American Baptist Women’s Ministries, and MMBB Financial Services, along with the General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA.

The current members of the National Executive Council are:

Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, Executive Director, American Baptist Home Mission Societies

Rev. Dr. Gina Jacobs-Strain, Executive Director, American Baptist Women’s Ministries

Rev. Sharon Koh, Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, American Baptist International Ministries

Dr. Louis Barbarin, Chief Executive Officer, MMBB Financial Services

Dr. C. Jeff Woods, Interim General Secretary, American Baptist Churches USA


An Everyday ABC Conversation:

Soul Care @ Christmas


How is your soul in this season of Advent and the celebrations associated with all of the expectations that the Christmas holidays bring? Are you joyful, full of expectation, or are you weighted down with disappointment, grief and loss incurred during the pandemic? Are you numb, emotionally spent from living from one world and/or situational crisis to another?

View a recording of "Soul Care @ Christmas" as Presenters Rev. Betty Wright-Riggins and Rev. Judy Fackenthal, both spiritual directors and members of the ABCUSA Spiritual Direction Team, as they walk with attendees and explore the shimmering gifts of Advent and the promises therein.

New! Service Opportunity: Interpreting the Impact of

COVID-19 on Congregations

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With commitment to supporting American Baptist congregations, the ABCUSA Office of the General Secretary and the Board of General Ministries will open an application process in January 2022 for a new Task Force focused on "Interpreting the Impact of COVID-19 on Congregations." The purpose of this task force is to gather and share information regarding ways that ABC congregations can adjust to new realities created by the global pandemic so that they can become all that God intends them to be.

Please begin to consider the opportunity to apply and voluntarily serve on this task force if you have:

  • A commitment to follow Jesus, to the ministry and mission of the American Baptist Churches USA, and to participate in Christ’s mission through congregational life
  • A desire to serve effectively on a diverse and inclusive task force and assist ABC congregations in fulfilling their mission
  • Knowledge that can assist ABC congregations in adjusting to new realities created by the global pandemic and implementing change processes and developing new habits and practices in congregations or institutions

The task force will meet virtually every 4-6 weeks beginning in mid-March, and the work of the task force will be evaluated after one year of service. Watch our website in the new year for more information at or learn more information in the January 2022 ABCUSA Enewsletter.

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Stewardship of Space: Thinking Beyond the Sanctuary

View a recording of our recent webinar!

In a time when the world around churches is changing quickly, how can congregations continue to engage in creative practices of hospitality and generosity when it comes to the use of their buildings and physical space? Rev. Stacy Emerson and Rev. Julie Flowers explore ways church families can think outside the sanctuary and think outside of Sunday morning when it comes to use of and sharing of their buildings and creating intentional communities within them.

This webinar is a part of The Generosity Project, an Office of the General Secretary initiative which examines the challenge of stewardship in the 21st century and looks at learning how to re-frame the conversation around stewardship.

View the recorded webinar here.

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Hopevale Commemoration Sunday is December 19, 2021

The American Baptist Churches USA Board of General Ministries joined with the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC) in 2019 to approve a resolution to designate the Sunday nearest to December 20 as Hopevale Commemoration Sunday. This day serves as a time to remember the Hopevale martyrdom in the Philippines in which missionaries of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (now International Ministries), on December 20, died heroically for their faith. In 2021, Hopevale Commemoration Sunday is December 19. Churches may celebrate this any Sunday through the months of December or January.

In commemorating this anniversary each year, ABCUSA is affirming, along with Filipino Baptists, our common missiological identity and our mutual support and solidarity in doing God’s mission.

We invite you to view resources and learn more about the Hopevale martyrdom here.

Please Note:

The American Baptist Churches USA Office of the General Secretary will be closed from December 24, 2021 through January 2, 2022 - if you try to contact us during this time you may experience a delay. We will see you in the new year!


Two Congregations Receive 2020 Widow’s Mite Award


In partnership with American Baptist Churches USA, MMBB Financial Services is honored to present the 2020 Widow’s Mite Award to two outstanding churches for their extraordinary efforts; Parkchester Baptist Church, Bronx, New York and First Baptist Church, Mattoon, Illinois. 

Read more here.

Money Saving Christmas Shopping Tips


With the inflation rate surging, here are a few tips to help you save this holiday season.

View the tips on the MMBB Financial Services website, here.


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American Baptist Churches of Indiana and Kentucky Calls New Executive Minister

The Region Board of the American Baptist Churches of Indiana and Kentucky has called Rev. Mark Thompson as the region’s next Executive Minister. The search committee unanimously voted this fall to present Thompson as the recommended candidate to serve in the role.

“Rev. Thompson’s passion for community ministry, experience with the Indiana/Kentucky board and staff, and commitment to American Baptist mission and values will serve him well in this role. He knows how to draw people together, energize them, and get things done for God!” said Dr. C. Jeff Woods, Interim General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA.

Learn more.

Recent Highlights from the ABCUSA Website

Former Missionary and American Baptist Computer Center Director Duncan Dies

Paul Rollet Becomes IM-Appointed Global Servant to the Philippines

ABHMS Receives Grant From Lilly Endowment Inc.

ABHMS’ The Justice Dialogues Deals with Mental Health at Holiday Time

MMBB Awarded Grant of $500,000 by Lilly Endowment Inc.

ABHMS Provides Grant for Immersive Labyrinth Walk Video

ABHMS Awards ‘Beyond the Stained-Glass Ceiling’ Grants

Visit the websites below

for happenings around the American Baptist denomination.

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To view a full list of ABC ministry partners, click here.

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ABC-affiliated organizations who would like to submit upcoming news for a denomination-wide audience to this mid-month enewsletter may send submissions by the 10th of the month to [email protected].