Baptist Corner

For those of you who have been steadily reading my ‘column’ you understand that our church is part of a broader denomination called American Baptist and we have a national headquarters who carry out missions on the national and international level but not a hierarchical ‘governance’ like the Catholic or Episcopal churches.

All ABC churches are broken into 33 regions and we are a part of the Vermont & New Hampshire region. You may be unaware of the missions and programs carried out by ABC-VNH and ways you can be involved.

Major Mission Groups:

-Connecting church groups interesting in local mission projects with churches in the area that need assistance (repairing building etc)

-Silver Bean: providing grants to pastors for continuing education, travel expenses for conferences, journals and book expenses etc.

-American Baptist Women’s ministries: Local chapter hosting frequent gatherings, fund raising and mission focused activities, also programs for girls.

-American Baptist Men: The American Baptist Men of Vermont and New Hampshire reach out to the community through compassionate help to those trapped in a natural disaster or support of those lost in the turmoil of life’s trials. We seek the ways and means through which we can make an eternal difference in the lives of our neighbors.

-25 to Life: 25 to Life is an initiative to support and encourage long-term ministry in northern New England. Our prayer is for God to raise up a generation of church leaders committed to the difficult work of sticking with their churches through an entire lifetime of spiritual challenge and growth.

Institute for Learning: The purpose of IFL is to increase the knowledge, skills, and faith of individuals in the local church, to encourage them to answer God’s call in their lives, as church members, church leaders, and, if God calls them to such, to become Certified Lay Ministers.

Minister’s Council: autonomous, professional, multicultural organization of ordained, commissioned and lay Christian leaders within the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. We are women and men who advocate for and covenant with each other to deepen our spiritual journey and to increase our effectiveness, as persons who are accepting the call of God and church for the advancement of the Gospel mission of the church of Jesus Christ and to proclaim His truth in a prophetic voice as led by the Holy Spirit.

Camp Sentinel: Located in Tuftonboro NH a wonderful Church camp for children and teens and retreat center.

Annual Gathering: Each spring our church sends a few representatives to attend the Annual gathering. This is a wonderful 28-hour retreat/conference with small group workshops, worship, guest speakers, and plenty of time to get to know other folks and learn about missions in the area.

To learn about these and other ABC-VNH missions and events talk with Annie or visit

abc-vermontnewhampshire.com

American Baptist Churches USA is involved in a number of interfaith ventures. Below you can learn about one of the most current and pressing of our time. This press release can be found on abc-usa.org

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 4/25/18)—The third national dialogue between Baptists and Muslims met April 16-19, 2018, at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wis. A total of 65 attendees gathered for the event, coming from 19 states and provinces in across the U.S and Canada.

Rev. Doug Avilesbernal, Executive Minister for the Evergreen Region, remarked, “Jesus said that it is easy to love one’s family and friends. This week I found a community to help me love beyond easy. Unnecessary pain comes from prejudice being made truth by separation. This week I lived how truth clears prejudice through community. Prejudice is unavoidable. This week I learned what happens when we challenge it within and without.”

The target group for the third dialogue was Baptist and Muslim religious leaders fifty years of age and younger who, together with their congregations, had willingness 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 goal of the dialogue was to partner a Baptist congregational leader and a Muslim religious leader in a community for an ongoing relationship. In addition to leaders of local congregations, participants also included chaplains at colleges and universities where they lead groups which would sustain ongoing dialogue with one another.

The conference extended participants the opportunity to build relationships with one another; examine social and political barriers to interfaith work; explore the underpinnings of religious liberty in each tradition; and create a provisional plan to apply the learnings upon returning home.

Several of the participants expressed that a highlight of the conference involved learning about how Imam Imad Enchassi and Baptist minister Mitch Randall have supported one another for several years in Oklahoma City bearing the burdens of discrimination, death threats, and communal abuse.

Susan Sparks, pastor of the Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City, and preacher for one of the worship sessions said, “”The Baptist-Muslim dialogue offered a tiny glimpse of what the world could be–a place of mutual respect, a gathering full of curiosity and learning, a celebration of our shared humanity. I pray that the dialogue continues, for Baptists and Muslims, and for all faith traditions, so that one day soon this model of friendship becomes a global reality and not just a fleeting glimmer of possibility.”

Rev. Dr. Kathy Pickett, pastor of Prairie Baptist Church in Kansas City added, “The success of the gathering was made evident to me in the voices offering thanksgiving for all we discovered and learned. In addition, meaning for me was discovered in the rise of positive energy, healthy questions asked, and shared laughter and respect, as new friendships developed around the table of a common meal. All, a wonderful example of God’s uniting, neighborly love.”

Daniel Schweissing, a faculty member at the Community College of Aurora, commented, “Having been involved in campus interfaith work for nearly a decade, this conference has been a great opportunity to grow in my understanding of Islam and more deeply ground my work in the context of my Baptist faith. I am excited about using what I’ve learned to more effectively build bridges with my Muslim students and the broader communities which they belong to.”

Dr. Paul Roby, a physician and member of First Baptist Church of Seattle, summarized, “The event exceeded my expectations in a number of ways. The Islamic scholars and agency people were amazing. The breadth of their experience, quality of their scholarship, and clarity of their communication were world class. Our Baptist brothers and sisters were rich in diversity on so many scales. Instead of the “Islam 101” I had slightly feared, we got seminars that addressed us at all our different levels of interfaith experience. I saw compassion, wisdom, and great authenticity in the pastors and Muslim leaders, both parish and academic. The result was a very instructive dialogue that will improve my congregation’s ministry with our Muslim neighbors.”

The special offering for April is the American For Christ offering which we take each spring. See the letter from the American Baptist Home Mission Society Executive Director for a fuller explanation of the offering and it’s purpose. You can find more information at abhms.org/afc/. As always I’m happy to chat with you about this or other topics that interest you.

Dear Mission Partners,

For American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), equipping disciples entails supporting and enabling highly motivated Christian disciple-makers who are delivering the Good News of Jesus Christ and producing life-saving and life-giving change in individuals and congregations across the United States and Puerto Rico.

The theme for the America for Christ (AFC) Offering 2018 is “Equipping Disciples,” informed by this biblical text: “The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13, NRSV).

ABHMS works to broaden our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus in word and deed for the 21st century, and to nurture discipleship by expanding our network of highly motivated change-agents who share the Good News and impact the world with God’s love. In this way, we encourage authentic Christian discipleship in which the fullness of the Gospel—in its personal and social implications—are manifested in individuals living Jesus’ message, involved in their communities and carrying out God’s call in their lives.

As you contribute to AFC, you enable ABHMS to provide high-quality Christian resources and encouragement to our network of disciple-makers, thereby improving their effectiveness in equipping other Christians. Our Equipping Disciples team facilitates virtual communities and networks of American Baptists engaged in discipleship for mutual support and enrichment.

Additional resources offered by the team support church transformation, evangelism, Workshops for Church Life and Leadership, the Discipleship & Christian Education Guide and The Christian Citizen magazine. Discipleship materials are available from Judson Press, ABHMS’ publishing ministry, on top- ics ranging from Christian living, Christian education, church leadership and Bible study to preaching, pastoral ministry and Baptist heritage.

Please give generously to the America for Christ Offering 2018.

With gratitude for your generosity,

Jeffery Haggray

Highlights of my annual report to the denomination, Annie:

The opportunity to serve as the Vermont and New Hampshire representative on the Board of General Ministries (BGM) has truly been a blessing. My duties began by attending the official vote for the new general secretary. Rev. Dr. Lee Spitzer was elected by a majority vote by the full Board of General Ministries in Chicago, IL. Rev. Dr. Spitzer brings to the position experience as the regional minister of New Jersey after serving in numerous churches around the country.

In June 2017, I was privileged to travel to Portland, Oregon for the June BGM meeting and biennial mission summit. The budget review officer drew attention to the steady decline of United Missions giving over the past 25 years with accelerated decline over the past decade. If this decline continues, United Missions giving will not be able to support the denomination in its current structure.

Attending the Biennial was an amazing experience that I would highly recommend if you have the opportunity--the 2019 biennial will be held in Virginia Beach. The Hall of Ministries (vendor area) gave just a small glimpse of the many ministries of ABC. I was honored to be a representative for such a diverse and interesting group. I was particularly interested in the grassroots efforts to speak truth to power for immigrant rights and sexual slavery in our country.

I also participated in one of the first gatherings for the Young Adult Caucus and engaged in a lively gathering called Baptist Talk, where folks were invited to engage in dialogue about difficult topics facing our country and denomination in a civil manner. The most moving experience was hearing Rev. Dr. Zina Jacques’ sermon about how scars only grow on things that are still living. I encourage you all to take the time to listen to the sermon, which can be found on the www.mmbb.org.

The November BGM meeting began with a celebration of the Mission Center in Valley Forge, PA. The Mission Center, often known as the Holy Donut, has served as the headquarters for American Baptist missions for the past 50 years. The building will be torn down within the next year, as it is no longer meeting the needs of the denomination and is no longer structurally sustainable.

During the general ministries board meeting, we learned about the great work ABC Home Mission Society is doing to help rebuild Puerto Rico, as well as the unique ministry the American Baptist Historical Society is providing to biblical and historical scholars around the globe.

The action group I have joined and will be leading going forward is focusing on ways to communicate Baptist identity. We have a need to develop materials for children that will communicate Baptist distinctives in an accessible and interesting way. The committee on Christian unity and interfaith relations is moving forward with Baptist-Muslim dialogues.

I am deeply honored that I have been appointed to the executive committee for the BGM. I will be part of a small group working closely with Rev. Dr. Lee Spitzer. In the next several months, I hope to begin visiting ABC churches across the region to gain a better sense of who we are.

American Baptist Churches are missional congregations that nurture devoted disciples of Jesus Christ who live their lives in mission and ministry for the healing of the world through the love of God. March 2018

Have you ever wondered how Baptists began and how it shapes the denomination today? I wondered myself and have been busy reading up on the topic.

 Even before Luther’s 95 thesis in 1517 groups of people were becoming increasingly critical of the State endorsed Church (and Pope) and how far removed Christianity had come from the earliest followers. These theologians went so far as to say that when government sponsored the church Christianity inevitably became tarnished as the Government’s rule of power is contrary to laws of love that should govern Christians. [This evolved into our modern belief in separation of church and state]

 There is no single founder of the Anabaptist movement like Wesley is to Methodists or Luther is to Lutherans. Several small groups emerged with similar values and ideals in the late 15th, and early 16th centuries who would later come together as Anabaptists. (Click HERE for more info on Anabaptist)

 As the protestant reformation progressed and the Catholic Church reformed and disguised itself, early Anabaptists fit in neither category. They were the left wing radicals!! These groups sought to live in ways emulating Christ and His early followers.

 Anabaptist was initially a derogatory term meaning “baptizing again”. These Christians were the first to follow the example of John the Baptist, of a believers Baptism. Protestants and Catholics scorned them.

How do you see these early roots still showing in our humble community here in Lincoln?

12/29/17

As we reflect on who we are as a church, know that it is recommended that churches take time to reflect on their denominational ties, consider if these are still appropriate and explore the meanings of such ties. With that in mind, the Transition Team would like to invite you to consider the history, current missions, and theology of the American Baptist Churches’ denomination. Even if you do not feel this group best represents you, you might appreciate understanding a bit more about the denomination to which we are affiliated.

10 important facts about American Baptist Churches YOU should know!

1. American Baptists believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, and that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God that serves as the final written authority for living out the Christian faith.

2. For American Baptists, the local church is the fundamental unit of mission in denominational life. i.e. churches function autonomously.

3. ABs partake in two ordinances; believers’ baptism and The Lord’s Supper.

4. ABs believe that the committed individual Christian can, and should, approach God directly, and that individual gifts of ministry should be shared, i.e. Individuals have the right and responsibility to develop an individual understanding/relationship with God.

5. ABs take seriously the call to missionary work

6. ABs support religious freedom and respect the expressions of others’ faith.

7. ABs acknowledge that God’s family extends beyond our local churches and that God calls us to cooperative ministries.

8. ABs have been called to be Christ’s witness for justice and wholeness within a broken society.

9. ABC-USA celebrates the racial, cultural and theological diversity witnessed within its membership. ABC is the most racially diverse protestant body.

10. ABs heed the Biblical call to renewal, and the need for a vital witness in the new millennium.

For more information on these and other facts check out www.abc-usa.org

~Annie