ABCUSA Focus Statement
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.
Table of Contents
- Words from ABCUSA President
- Words from ABCUSA General Secretary
- About the Office of General Secretary
- United Mission
2022 Mission Impact
- Financial Overview
Words from the ABCUSA President
During 2022 it was my distinct pleasure to share in both the Baptist World Alliance Annual Gathering, held in Birmingham, Ala., and the World Council of Churches Assembly, held in Karlsruhe, Germany.
These events created opportunities not only for Baptists, but Christ-followers from a wide variety of denominational families around the globe to gather for worship, education, and fellowship. It was especially affirming to learn that Christians in North America share a vital commitment to racial justice. This is an American Baptist priority and it was encouraging to hear that priority reinforced by sisters and brothers in the widercommunity offaith.
We celebrate the election of Board of General Ministries’ member Dr. Raimundo Barreto, to the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches. It is an honor to have Raimundo representing American BaptistChurchesUSAin thiscapacity.
In July it was my privilege to enjoy a “meet-and-greet” event with the ABCUSA Office of the General Secretary staff at the King of Prussia office. It was a wonderful time of laughter and fellowship. I want to encourage all of us to pray for and affirm the work of this staff. They are a talented and dedicated group of people whoaccomplishgreatministryonourbehalf.
During the trip to King of Prussia, my spouse Janet and I had the opportunity to visit the First Baptist Church
Pastoral Staff Searches
of Woodstown, N.J. As a seminarian I served the Woodstown church as pastoral intern. My pastoral supervisor was the Rev. Dr. Howard E. Taylor. As we made plans for the visit, I contacted Howard who Informed me that our visit would coincide with the church’s 200th anniversary. Not only that, but he would be preaching on that day. I contacted Dr. Priscilla Eppinger, executive director of the American Baptist Historical Society, who graciously supplied a certificate and letter honoring the church on this special occasion. It was my great honor to share the letter and present the certificate to Pastor Timothy Joyce, on behalf of ABCUSA. It was a great day ofcelebration andrenewal.
We are a diverse family in many ways, yet we are one in Christ. We worship, celebrate, and love one another in the Spirit and power ofJesus the Christ.Rev. Dr. James O. Wolfe III (Jim) President American Baptist
The Board of General Ministries is the governing body by which elected representatives from the thirty three regions of the United States and Puerto Rico shape policy and initiatives for the ABCUSA. They are your voice as they carry out envisioning, planning, mission and fiduciary responsibilities. The President, Vice President and Budget Review Officer are elected by local church delegates at each Biennial Mission Summit.
Words from the ABCUSA General Secretary
The American Baptist Churches USA Office of the General Secretary performs three crucial mission functions – gathering the denomination; supporting congregations, regions, and national organizations; and creating space for local and global issues. Gathering. We gathered people together to celebrate ministering women for the “Radical. Redeemed. Ready.” conference held June 15-18, 2022 at the Green Lake Conference Center, the American Baptist Assembly, in Green Lake, Wis. Throughout the week, numerous persons came up to me to tell me how much they were enjoying the conference, its design, its flow, its content, and the Spirit that was evident throughout. We are grateful for the leadership of Rev. Dr. Pat Hernandez, associate general secretary for Women in Ministry and Transition Ministries. One participant framed it this way, “Her pastoral heart as well as her commitment to doing things the right way were clear. She is a real gift to me and, I trust, to the larger ABC life.” We evaluate every event using our values as a filter and it was clear that our values of “integrity, altruism, interconnectedness, achievement, passion, and creativity” shaped this gathering. ABCUSA also hosted in person gatherings of the National Leadership Council, the National Executive Council, regular
About the ABCUSA Office of the General Secretary
Governed by the Board of General Ministries, the ABCUSA Office of the General Secretary serves as the central connecting organization for the denomination, maintaining an infrastructure for American Baptists to network and pursue shared mission with one another.
online meetings of Region Executive Ministers and numerous regional search committee meetings.
Supporting. One-hundred forty-one pastoral leaders responded to an inquiry from our “Interpreting the Impact of COVID-19 on Congregations” task force to share their stories and insights gleaned during the pandemic. The power of relationships, the reprioritizing of ministry, and the challenge of change emerged as central themes to these stories that continue to be shared throughout the denomination. One respondent noted, “Instead of doing a lot of programs, we are focusing more on individuals and their relationships to one another and to God.” In cooperation with “Blessed Tomorrow,” the Creation Justice Network offered Climate Ambassador training, still available at www.www.abc-usa.org/creation-justice. In order to continue to provide leadership, congregational, and giving data to the denomination, ABCUSA took on a huge task of migrating 25 years of data from a fragile database system to state of the art provider NetSuite.
Creating Space. ABCUSA is pleased to name crucial issues and create space for dialogue and understanding among our diverse denomination. The Anti-Racism Convening Table met throughout 2022 following the October 2021 symposium entitled, “The Prophetic Rhythm of Anti-Racism” that challenged our denomination to continue to fight anti-racism in all its forms. We also hosted Everyday ABC Conversations on: “Changing Climates: Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow,” “Homelessness and the Housing Crisis,” “Multicultural Ministry,” and “Advent in a PostPandemic World: Rethinking Our Worship.”
Additional Accomplishments. We welcomed two new Associate General Secretaries as Rev. Soozi Whitten Ford began her work with Regional Ministries and Rev. Dr. Robin Stoops began his role in Mission Resource Development. I am extremely grateful for a talented and committed staff who carry out these priorities with passion and excellence.
The National Executive Council produced another Christmas video from the award-winning book, “The Snowy Day” inviting each listener to extend a moment with God during the Advent Season. The successful application of another Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan provided necessary funds for the mission and ministry of the office and allowed ABCUSA to close the books with a strong surplus in 2022.
of Myanmar, Duwa Lashi La, said, “This is the greatest gift that one country can give to another country.” Our deepest gratitude goes to Rev. Dr. Roy Medley, general secretary emeritus, for his chairing of the Burma Advocacy Group, an arm of the ABCUSA Burma Refugee Commission.
Rev. Dr. C. Jeff WoodsGeneral Secretary
American Baptist Churches USA
On December 23, 2022 a life changing gift was received as we learned that the Burma Act Bill was signed into law by President Biden. Acting President
The Generosity Project
The Generosity Project is a collaborative effort between ABCUSA, regions, and local congregations. The Generosity Project aims to help pastors re-frame the conversation around stewardship and generosity in their congregations. Bi-monthly blogs help support new growth and understanding as we deepen our ministry and discipleship. The Generosity Project examines the challenge of stewardship in the 21st century and looks at learning how to re-frame the conversation. It looks at how we can create experiments to nurture generosity in ourselves, our families, and our congregations. The Generosity Project provides an opportunity for pastors to learn how to re-frame the conversation around stewardship and nurture generosity in
congregations. Past participants are noting a decrease in anxiety in themselves and in their congregations around stewardship, an increase in comfort level and joy around nurturing generosity, and for many, an increase in overall giving.
With questions, please contact:
Rev. Stacy Emerson, ABCUSA Stewardship Consultant: at email@example.com or at 800-ABC-3USA x2010.
“This is the greatest gift that one country can give to another country.”
Acting President of Myanmar, Duwa Lashi La
GATHERING the denomination
Our autonomy as Baptists compels us to the meaningful exchange of ideas, learnings, and gifts as well as shared worship, discernment, experimentation, and implementation on matters that inform our overarching mission and contextualized ministries.
When we gather American Baptist churches, pastors and partners we intentionally plan with input from across the ABC family.
Biennial Mission Summit
National Executive Council
National Leadership Council
Mission Table | Mission Summit Conversations
Orientation to American Baptist Life
American Baptist Caucuses
Women in Ministry national conference
SUPPORTING our congregations, regions, and national organizations
Impactful ministries are undergirded by preparatory and organizational activities that are often unseen but no less part of the mission of God.
We offer direct and indirect administration, services, and consultancy to our partners in support of the various forms of mission happening throughout the ABC.
Management of United Mission and designated mission giving, including One Great Hour of Sharing relief funds
Officialregistryofcooperating churches and professional ministry leaders
Interim Ministry support
Accessible church pathway for 501(c)3 exemption
Connecting to faith-based networks beyond the ABC
CREATING SPACE for local and global issues
We provide opportunities for conversations, focused action, and networking on important topics through committees, task forces, commissions, and ministry teams, always with a commitment to consider the perspectivesofourchurches, pastors and partners.
Learnings from the global COVID-19 pandemic
Networks and actions related to creation justice, anti-racism, Burma-diaspora concerns, ecumenical and interfaith engagement
Relevant Everyday ABC Conversations
United Mission is the way that American Baptists contribute to a shared financial fund that is designed and used for mission and ministry that has impact across the whole American Baptist family. Sixty five percent of each dollar given to United Mission directly funds the mission and ministries of a church’s region. The ABCUSA (which includes the Office of the General Secretary and the Board of General Ministries) received twenty nine percent. United Mission funding supports efforts on all levels of our churches, regions and partners.
Typically congregations give to United Mission as a regularly-scheduled budgeted contribution. Our churches commit to give ten percent of their annual budget to Untied Mission. Congregations as well as individuals also give to United Mission through special periodic offerings or online giving. The faithfulness of all who give to United Mission shows the commitment we being to be United in Christ + Together in Mission.
Our Partners include: American Baptist Historical Society, American Baptist Home Mission Societies, American Baptist Women’s Ministries (Love Gift - 15% goes to ABWM), American Baptist Men, International Ministries, and Career Centers. The Mission Initiative Fund provides funds for launching new ministries and mission activities.
Radical. Redeemed. Ready!
The ABCUSA Office of the General Secretary held the “Radical. Redeemed. Ready.” conference June 15-18, 2022, at the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wis. The event included recognition of the 40th Anniversary of the Women in Ministry Project, now known as American Baptist Women in Ministry (ABWIM). The first gathering of women at Green Lake was held in 1980, and the Women in Ministry Project formally began in 1982. The event was hosted by American Baptist Women in Ministry (ABWIM), a ministry of the ABCUSA Office of General Secretary.
Women, men, leaders, ministers, lay people, young and old (4 was the youngest and 90 was the oldest!), many different cultures and ethnic backgrounds came together in Green Lake to celebrate and affirm women in
ministry. “We have journeyed together celebrating our radical past, transformed by the redemptive movement of the Spirit amongst us and ready to move forward into a future in which all God’s gifts in all God’s people are able to be fully accessed, utilized and embraced!”
Burma Refugee Commission
The Burma Refugee Commission is a joint effort coordinated out of the Office of General Secretary and includes members from our national partners as well as the various groups from the Burmese diaspora. The group in conjunction with the Burma Advocacy Group worked hard during 2022 to get information to local churches to support the passing of the Burma Act of 2021. There were many prayer groups, letter writing groups and those who demonstrated to encourage the passing of this bill in support of the thousands of displaced people in and around Burma. This group also supported the International Religious Freedom Summit in June of 2022, highlighting the atrocities of the military junta in Burma. The meetings include people from around the world, sharing updates about what is happening in Burma and to those who are refugees in many other countries. Our ABCUSA history is tied closely with the many groups from Burma through our extensive missionary outreach over the last two hundred years. Please continue to pray for peace, justice and freedom in Burma.
The Anti-Racism Convening Table
An American Baptist Anti-Racism Convening Table was formed as the next step following the American Baptist Churches USA Board of General Ministries decision at its November 2021. The Anti-Racism Convening Table met regularly in 2022 to discern faithful ways to move forward with an ongoing denomination-wide commitment to anti-racism work.
At the time, Karen Podsiadly, immediate past president of American Baptist Churches USA, noted about the Convening Table, “Informed by the framing and resources offered by the Anti-Racism Task Force, we are entering into the commission establishment phase paying attention to and probing the models and practices we have institutionalized over time, while also discerning how God is calling us to work toward transformation we have not yet seen as a result of previous efforts. Anti-racism work requires us to be intentional, alert, and open to different approaches.”
Task Force on Interpreting the Impact of Covid-19
A task force on “Interpreting the Impact of Covid-19 on Congregations” was formed by the ABCUSA Office of the General Secretary and Board of General Ministries in response to the interest of ABC congregations to continue to explore the impact of the global pandemic on congregational life.
The task force studied the effects of the pandemic across American Baptist Churches USA. Their key findings include:
Things got simpler during the pandemic, and while they were challenging for local church leaders and pastors, what was truly important rose to the surface.
Relationships/fellowship was a common theme and a perceived loss throughout the pandemic.
In her report Podsiadly noted, “We are forever grateful for every American Baptist who has contributed to the work of anti-racism in the denomination and greater society, past, present and future.”
The Board of General Ministries Executive Committee and larger Board will continue to engage in board development activities in support of ABCUSA investigating, exploring, and realizing our truths and paths towards healing.
Pastors and church leaders felt unequipped to navigate the challenges of online worship. Seminaries and regional bodies need to be sensitive to these needs as they consider training opportunities.
Pastors became more ‘pastoral’ in their call with administration and program/process taking a backseat.
Hybrid worship seems to be here to stay, the question is how do you pastor these blended congregations at a time when many congregations are moving to a bi-vocational model due to financial pressures.
The pandemic exacerbated/ magnified the challenges that were already present in local congregations.
Statement of Activities
For the years ending December 31, 2022 and 2021
American Baptist Mission Support
American Baptist Churches USA received $26,729,239 in 2022 through American Baptist Mission Support.
ABCUSA retained $1,808,529 for operations and distributed $24,920,710.