From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ABCUSA: General Board Update: 6/25/03

From "SCHRAMM, Richard" <>
Date Thu, 26 Jun 2003 08:55:37 -0400

Evergreen Baptist Association Approved as Region

American Baptist News Service (Richmond, Va. 6/24/03)--The Evergreen Baptist
Association, currently composed of 30 churches in Washington and Idaho, has
received approval from the American Baptist Churches USA General Board to
become the 35th region within the denomination.

The board, meeting here in semiannual session today, voted (74 yes, 27 no,
19  abstentions) to recognize the Evergreen Baptist Association as a region
of the American Baptist Churches USA and to authorize the president and the
general secretary to countersign the Covenant of Relationships on behalf of
The action fulfills American Baptist Churches USA bylaws for such approval,
which require a two-thirds majority of all votes cast for and against. 

The genesis of Evergreen began several years ago when the region board of
the American Baptist Churches of the Northwest affirmed a restructuring
"into two regions, one using the geographic boundaries of the Seattle
Baptist Union and the other the remaining geography of American Baptist
Churches of the Northwest."  Churches in both areas were provided an option
for membership in their preferred region as that process continued. 

In compliance with Standing Rule 6.1, which outlines the procedure for
orienting and accepting new regions into American Baptist Churches USA, the
General Executive Council (GEC) determined In April 2002 that the Evergreen
Baptist Association had met all of the requirements stipulated in the
application process and voted by a two-thirds majority to grant provisional
status.  That decision was unanimously affirmed by the General Board
Executive Committee, as stipulated in Standing Rule, by a previously
agreed-upon e-mail vote.

In April 2003 the Evergreen Baptist Association requested the GEC to
consider whether it had abided by the provisions in the Covenant of
Relationships and its Statements of Agreements including the Common Budget
Covenant.  The GEC determined that the provisions had been met and voted to
recommend to the General Board that it vote to recognize the Evergreen
Baptist Association as a region of the American Baptist Churches USA.

The Rev. Dr. Marcia J. Patton is serving as transitional executive minister
of Evergreen Baptist Association. The region offices are in Kent, Wash.

Board of Educational Ministries Affirms Continuation of Discipleship
And Publishing Ministries Through National Ministries
In Endorsing Task Force Recommendations 

American Baptist News Service (Richmond, Va. 6/25/03)--The American Baptist
Churches USA Board of Educational Ministries, in semi-annual sessions here,
has endorsed the recommendation of the ABC Discipleship Task Force that "its
education for discipleship ministries be assigned to National Ministries by
the General Board together with the assets required to accomplish this
ministry; and that Judson Publications and Press be assigned to National
Ministries together with the assets required to accomplish this ministry."

The task force report, in recommending "that Educational Ministries wind up
its affairs," emphasized the importance of continuing, viable discipleship
and publishing ministries within American Baptist life.  Thursday morning
the board will recommend to the annual meeting of the incorporated American
Baptist Board of Education and Publication that the task force
recommendations be approved.

The board also approved the ABC Discipleship Task Force recommendation that
calls for "administratively related organizations that relate to Educational
Ministries [to] be temporarily assigned to the Office of the General
Secretary and that current membership on the General Board and staff
councils remain as is until permanent lodgment is determined."	The task
force proposal calls on the General Board to "assess the nature of
administrative relationships of the administratively related organizations
to the denomination."

Responding to a call from the Board of Educational Ministries last November,
the General Board at that time voted " instruct the ABC President in
consultation with the General Secretary to appoint a task force to recommend
to the General Board specific steps by June 2003 to secure the
denomination's education mandate and its commitment to making disciples.
This shall include, but not be limited to, the allocation of United Mission
funds for this purpose.  The future of Judson Press Books shall be a part of
this process."

Educational Ministries' action in November was motivated by several
concerns: the future of Judson Publishing, implementation of the Strategic
Mission Plan within the financial resources available to Educational
Ministries, and determining the best way to support American Baptist
congregations in making disciples if Educational Ministries is not deemed
viable as a separate agency.

In fall 2001 Educational Ministries had begun an extensive effort to develop
its Strategic Mission Plan.  The three-phased process involved a working
group including denominational officers, board members, regional executive
ministers, staff and consultants.  The result was the adoption by the Board
of Educational Ministries of the Strategic Ministries Plan "Discipleship
Matters" in June 2002.	At its meeting in November 2002 the Board of
Educational Ministries, following extensive discussions, voted to postpone
the election of a new executive director and to recommend to the General
Board the formation of the task force.	

President David Hunt, in consultation with General Secretary the Rev. Dr.
Roy Medley, appointed the following people to serve on the ABC Discipleship
Task Force: Dr. Robert Shaw, of Overland Park, Kans., and former executive
minister of American Baptist Churches of Michigan, who has served as chair;
Dr. William D. Apel, former president of the Board of Educational Ministries
and a faculty member at American Baptist-related Linfield College,
McMinnville, Ore.; the Rev. James Carrington, pastor of Friendship Baptist
Church in Yorba Linda, Calif.; Dr. Thomas E. Clifton, Board of Educational
Ministries member and president of American Baptist-related Central Baptist
Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Kans.; the Rev. H. Jay Flu-Allen, Board
of Educational Ministries president and pastor of New Salem Baptist Church,
Columbus, Ohio; Dr. Bernadette Glover-Williams, General Board chaplain and
assistant pastor of The Cathedral Second Baptist Church, Perth Amboy, N.J.;
Dr. Arlee Griffin, former General Board member and pastor of Berean
Missionary Baptist Church, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Dr. Mary A. Hulst,, pastor of
Calvary Baptist Church, Denver, Colo.; Mr. David G. Hunt, American Baptist
Churches USA president, Milwaukie, Ore.; the Rev. Susan Maybeck, president
of the Board of National Ministries and a retired pastor, Pittsford, N.Y.;
Dr. Osvaldo Mottesi, faculty member at American Baptist-related Northern
Baptist Theological Seminary, Lombard, Ill.; the Rev. Dr. Donald T-M Ng,
former Educational Ministries staff and pastor of First Chinese Baptist
Church, San Francisco, Calif.; and Dr. Michael A. Williams, executive
minister of American Baptist Churches of Michigan, East Lansing, Mich. 
The task force met in February, March and April.  It received input from
Educational Ministries staff, National Ministries staff, the Regional
Executive Ministers Council, pastors, the ABC Treasurers Council, Judson
Press staff, the Strategic Mission Plan Committee, various consultants and
others.  This input, according to Chairman Robert Shaw, assured that the
task force's work was "undergirded by extensive studies, reports and dialogs
across the ABCUSA structure and family that have informed our deliberations
and decisions."

Following the April meeting, staff and legal counsel have worked on the many
details of the implementation of these recommended actions. 

General Secretary Medley has said that "the primary concern of the task
force has been about how we move forward with strength in making disciples."
The task force, he said, "felt that the best way to enable us to move
forward with vitality was to assign the discipleship ministry to National
Ministries. I believe that our efforts reflect God's renewing work in our
midst calling us to reshape educational ministry for the 21st century."

Board of National Ministries Votes to Accept Responsibility 
For Education and Discipleship Ministries

American Baptist News Service (Richmond, Va. 6/25/03)--At today's meeting of
the Board of National Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA, its
directors voted unanimously to accept responsibility for ministries of
education and discipleship, along with the publishing functions of Judson

The vote followed yesterday's decision by the Board of Educational
Ministries to wind up its affairs, following recommendations of a
Discipleship Task Force of the denomination's General Board that has been
meeting and studying the status of Educational Ministries since March.
Executive Director Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins III said National
Ministries will take on Educational Ministries' employees as early as July
14. "We are talking about finding a family member and saying, 'mi casa, su
casa,'" he said. "We are talking about a radical reconstruction of who we
are as National Ministries. We are talking about-along with the five
strategic mission priorities we currently have-adding a sixth. So National
Ministries will be not only about witness, renewal and justice, but witness,
renewal justice and discipleship."

"What will be the most obvious change in National Ministries,"
Wright-Riggins said, "will be the new ministry center, Ministries of
Education and Discipleship."  What won't change will be the denominational
commitment to make every American Baptist church a disciple-making church,
he added.

Dr. Robert Shaw, chair of the Discipleship Task Force, commended National
Ministries Board and staff for their "vision and openness to the
possibilities of God." Shaw said: "I believe we are on the verge of
something very exciting-this is a tremendously opportune moment for American

National Ministries Board Finance Committee Chair David M. Blythe reported
that after reviewing the financial implications of assuming Educational
Ministries' program responsibilities, along with absorbing the impact of
changes inherent in the budget covenant, committee members agreed "there are
challenges we are willing to address in order to sustain the valuable
ministries of Judson Press and discipleship ministries."

At the close of her report, National Ministries' treasurer, the Rev. Dr.
Margaret Ann Cowden, said, "We have the privilege of being able to help
sustain a 175-year tradition. We also have the opportunity to help maintain
and stabilize a publishing effort, and it is infinitely easier to help and
stabilize, rather than start over. My hope is that we will do this wisely,
so those who come behind us find us faithful."

The board also unanimously approved resolutions regarding resources
previously allocated to Educational Ministries, including United Mission and
America for Christ offerings.

Sundquist Honored for Leadership of International Ministries

American Baptist News Service (Richmond, Va. 6/25/03)--The Rev. Dr. John A.
Sundquist, executive director of American Baptist International Ministries
for the past 14 years and a prominent denominational and global Baptist
leader and speaker, is being honored here this week during meetings of the
American Baptist General Board and Board of International Ministries as he
prepares for retirement Aug. 9.

Board of International Ministries President Kirkpatrick Cohall commented
today on Sundquist's ministry and leadership: "International Ministries
under the leadership of John Sundquist has been taken to a new and exciting
level within our denomination. Our world continues to change and has become
a global community.  John has guided International Ministries through those
changes.  His vision and commitment to the development of staff and board
members is reflected in the strong relationships that have developed during
his years of leadership.  John's enthusiasm and unique gifts will be missed
as he retires.	We wish him all the best."

During his leadership Sundquist has guided International Ministries in its
implementation of two decade-long strategic plans-"A Passion for Mission"
(1991-2000) and "Go Global" (2000-2010).	In overseeing the work of
some 150 missionaries and relationships with more than 70 international
partners Sundquist has been an interpreter of global Christian mission
throughout American Baptist Churches USA and with ecumenical partners and
organizations.	 He also has been involved in the work of the Baptist World
Alliance, as vice president and in other capacities, and as president
(1984-1988) of the North American Baptist Fellowship.

Sundquist has been active in advocating for issues of justice and peace
internationally, most notably in his work supporting reconciliation in the
longstanding civil conflict of the Naga peoples of Northeast India.

He previously directed the Alive In Mission campaign (1985-88), the largest
single effort to date to raise funds for American Baptist mission across the
U.S. and around the world.  Prior to that Sundquist served as executive
minister of the American Baptist Churches of Ohio (1977-1985), associate
executive minister and area minister for Metro Detroit (1972-1977) and area
minister for the Twin Cities and Northern Minnesota (1970-72). 

A native of Chicago, he began his ministry as a prison chaplain and has held
pastorates in Minnesota.  Sundquist holds a B.A. degree in psychology from
Bethel College, an M.Div. degree from Bethel Theological Seminary, a D.Min.
degree in Church Organizational Theory from McCormick Theological Seminary
and an honorary D.D. degree from Alderson Broaddus College.  

He and his wife, Carol, are parents of two adult sons.

The Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, general secretary, American Baptist Churches
USA, said that under Sundquist's leadership "American Baptist mission work
with international partners has not only grown but has been on the cutting
edge of Protestant mission endeavors.  Go Global, International Ministries'
current strategic plan, bears his imprint of innovative 'thinking outside
the box.'  I am certain that even in retirement John will continue to make
an invaluable contribution as a missiologist, international leader in
Baptist life, and senior statesman within our American Baptist family."

Two American Baptist Home Missionaries Commissioned by National Ministries

American Baptist News Service (Richmond, Va. 6/25/03)--The Board of National
Ministries commissioned the Rev. John C. Harding and Piper C. Harding,
pastor and lay leader, respectively, of Cordova Community Baptist Church,
Cordova, Alaska, as American Baptist home missionaries at its semiannual
meeting today.

In her charge to the people during the commissioning service, the Rev. Susan
S. Maybeck, National Ministries' board president, asked those assembled to
support the new missionaries through prayer, presence and persuasion. 

"You can pray for John and Piper, their church and the community center,"
said Maybeck. "And you can go to Cordova," she continued, "where your
presence will be joyfully accepted for giving such encouragement to the
missionaries and the people." Support of National Ministries' missionaries
by telling their stories is important as well, she said.

Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins III, in his charge to the missionaries, said,
"No matter how dark it is in Alaska, you are not the light, but you bear
witness to the light; you bear witness to God. I want you to become engaged
in such a way that your work is not only about your mission, God's mission,
but also about engaging other people who will call it their mission."

The Rev. Harding has ministered to Cordova Community Baptist Church since
2000. In his letter requesting commissioning, Harding wrote, "I have
experienced God's leading in my life through His word, my family and my
church and I feel I must respond to His call to lead people to my loving,
caring Lord."

Along with responsibility for worship and women's ministries, Piper Harding
leads teen ministries at the church: "I look forward to serving as a
missionary and continuing to bring young people and women in particular into
a saving relationship with Christ as I use the talents He has given me for
His service. I ask for your prayers and support in this role."

American Baptist News Service: Office of Communication, American Baptist
Churches USA, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851; (800)ABC-3USA x2077
/ (610)768-2077; fax: (610)768-2320;;

Richard W. Schramm
Deputy General Secretary for Communication
American Baptist Churches USA
P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851

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