ORLANDO, FL (ABNS 11/17/06)―A four-day program of worship, music, and special events next June, marking the 100th birthday of American Baptist Churches, was described to the denomination's General Board at its meeting in Orlando, FL.
The celebration will coincide with ABCUSA's 2007 biennial meeting, June 29-July 2, in Washington, D.C., where the denomination was founded as the Northern Baptist Convention in 1907.
The theme of the celebration will be "Arise & Shine."
Dr. Leo S. Thorne, associate general secretary for Mission Resource Development for ABCUSA, described a program that will begin on a Friday night with joint worship among American Baptists and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, as well as the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention.
Saturday will feature the official birthday celebration, with morning worship and Bible study led by Tony Campolo, and an historic group photograph taken at the same place outside Calvary Baptist Church where a similar photo was taken in 1907. Saturday will also feature a noon luncheon with Wallace Charles Smith as speaker, and evening concerts, including "The Messiah" performed by the Shiloh Baptist Church choir. Other special worship events are planned for Sunday and Monday, as well as a Youth/Young Adult Festival on Monday afternoon and an evening gathering with Lauran Bethell as speaker.
Robert Roberts, Centennial co-chair, described a program of "Centennial Champions," a title to be conferred on churches and individuals who donate $1,000 or more toward the expenses of the celebration. Roberts said $12,000 has been donated so far toward a goal of $100,000.
"We need once again to celebrate," he told the board members. "It's a time when we need to jump in sheer joy and ecstasy to praise our God." The response was two immediate donations of $1000 each.
The General Board will hold its 2007 meeting just before the biennial meeting and Centennial celebration, on June 24-28, also in Washington.
At its second plenary session, the board also was told that the American Baptist Historical Society has accepted an offer from Mercer University in Atlanta, GA to be the society's new home. ABHS President Trinette V. McCray said the society will move its archives and operations over the next two to three years from its present homes in the denomination's Mission Center at Valley Forge, PA and the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinisty School in Rochester, NY.
In other actions, board members:
*Passed a proposal for a by-law change, asking that the 2007 biennial meeting to allow more than 900 chaplains and pastoral counselors to have "voice and vote" representation on the General Board by adding an additional representative.
*Approved a resolution to the 2007 biennial that sets the number of representatives at 107 to 109 by 2008 and total General Board membership at 107 to 108 by 2009.
*Approved a revised by-law proposal setting how biennial delegates from Flexible Regions would be selected.
Andrew C. Jayne American Baptist Churches, USA Mission Resource Development http://www.abc-usa.org/