From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 01 Apr 2000 07:39:32


Office of Communication  
American Baptist Churches USA 
P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851 
Phone: (610)768-2077 / Fax: (610)768-2320 
Richard W. Schramm, Director 

 Nearly 300 regional and national staff of American 
Baptist Churches USA gathered March 23-27 at the American 
Baptist Assembly in Green Lake, Wis., for "God's Servants 
Together: Keeping Sabbath," an event focusing on spiritual 
renewal, relationship building and discernment.
 The gathering featured a variety of worship 
experiences, prayer and meditation, workshops and informal 
fellowship, all lifting up the biblical call to Sabbath and 
its implications for work and family life.
 Dr. David Wheeler, senior minister of First Baptist 
Church in Los Angeles and former professor of theology and 
ethics at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, helped frame 
the context for the week's activities in several Bible 
studies.  "If God enjoyed reflecting upon and interacting 
with God's creation, how much more you and I should," he 
said.  Sabbath "is part of the very nature of God...the 
renewal and restoration of original creation, part of the 
original rhythm.  [It] not only is the key feature of the 
'warp and woof' of creation, it also is part of the very 
nature of time."
 "Part of our struggle with sin and woundedness," he 
said, "is to justify ourselves out of our own strength 
through work." 
 "Even Jesus of Nazareth found it necessary to retreat 
to places of prayer and privacy, to prepare Himself to do 
great things for God," noted Dr. George Cummings during 
Sunday worship.  Cummings, Pearl Rawlings Hamilton professor 
of systemic theology and acting dean at the American Baptist 
Seminary of the West and senior pastor of Imani Community 
Church in Oakland, Calif., said, "If it was good enough for 
the Savior it should be good enough for us.  Sabbath 
ultimately must not be a goal but the life we live."
 Among other program participants were Dr. Ella P. 
Mitchell, visiting professor at the Interdenominational 
Theological Center in Atlanta; the Rev. Raul Ruiz, pastor of 
Spanish American Baptist Church in Union City, N.J., and 
coordinator of Hispanic and Portuguese Ministries for the 
American Baptist Churches of New Jersey; the Rev. Alyn 
Waller, pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in 
Philadelphia; Lynette Algarin-Johnson, an attorney and 
seminarian from Puerto Rico; and Dr. James Bonn, professor 
emeritus of music at the University of Southern California. 
 During the event an offering of $1,401 was received 
for "L'Abri...a shelter for those who serve," a temporary 
shelter house on the Green Lake grounds for displaced clergy 
families and/or missionaries on home assignment.
 Dr. Kate Harvey, executive director of the Ministers 
Council and chair of the Program Committee for the staff 
gathering, noted: "The committee worked diligently to 
provide more than learning about Sabbath but actual Sabbath 
space for the restoration of our souls and the reminder that 
we are indeed precious in the eyes of God before we are ever 
productive.  We thank God that participants left refreshed 
and encouraged about what God is doing among the American 
Baptist Churches USA and our role in that mission."
 Program Committee members, in addition to Wheeler and 
Harvey, included the Rev. DuWayne Battle, pastor of St. Paul 
Baptist Church in Montclair, N.J.; the Rev. David Laubach, 
associate executive director for Evangelism and Church 
Renewal for American Baptist National Ministries; Laura 
Miraz, director of Laity Ministries for National Ministries; 
Dr. Keith Russell, president of the American Baptist 
Seminary of the West; Dr. Dwight Stinnett, executive 
minister of the American Baptist Churches of the Great 
Rivers Region; the Rev. Linda Lea Snyder, resource minister 
for the American Baptist Churches of Connecticut; and Ernest 
Sutton, associate director of the Business and Finance 
Division of American Baptist International Ministries.


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