ABCNJ's Annual Session weekend began today with Academy at Annual Session.
After almost 15 years of complex and lengthy probate procedures, construction plans and permit applications going through the excruciatingly slow and ponderous - oftentimes frustrating - process of dealing with the vagaries of Township and County politics, the Harker Legacy fund has now arrived at the construction phase!
In a letter sent on August 31, 2017 to the ABC General Secretary, the Executive Directors/CEO's of the American Baptist Home Mission Society and International Ministries, Dr. Familiaran wrote:
Everyday we awake, the news bring more unspeakable horror and suffering from the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Words fail to describe what we continue to see unfold.
I write to all of you for several reasons:
- I want to reiterate the unwavering solidarity of ABCNJ with every effort that our national denomination is making in sending aid and relief to the affected people of Texas.
- Many ABCNJ churches have already responded to the OGHS appeal that have been issued in the region. And many more will respond. That appeal will be sustained through every channel in our communications network.
- In massive tragedies like these, it is also a sad reality that many unscrupulous people exploit the chaos and the emotions of people who are eager to help. We also have had many unpleasant experiences of the toxic mix of politics and dysfunctional national relief organizations mismanaging vital relief funds that never reach their intended recipients - a breach of trust that tarnishes the profound acts of mercy of many. I will be assuring our ABCNJ churches by emphasizing in the continuing appeals to ABCNJ the historic track record of ABCUSA of being good and faithful stewards of the relief resources that we deploy here and around the world through the One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) offering and the work of the World Relief Committee (WRC) of the Board of General Managers (BGM) in overseeing the dispatch of those vital funds.
- ABCNJ has forged a vital partnership with The American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS) and International Ministries (IM) in disaster relief born out of our joint response to Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. That partnership has deepened through the years and remains strong, personified in the outstanding team of Vickie Goff of ABHMS and Denise Gratzel of ABCNJ.
- The compassion of Christ is welling up from the hearts of many in our region who yearn to be of help. But we are also aware that organizing our limited resources into a strategic response can multiply its impact manifold. And so I want to assure all of you that ABCNJ stands ready to mobilize when called upon and join our national efforts and ABC regions near Texas in the long rebuilding and rehabilitation phase of this tragedy that lies ahead.
Let us continue to lift the people of Texas in our prayers and actions.
Would you like to get a taste of what's in store for Annual Session? Check out Annual Session's Featured Speakers page!
Registration for our 2017 ABCNJ Academy and Annual Session is in full swing, and we don’t want any of our family to miss out on the special Early Bird rates! Registrations received before August 15 can save up to $20 for each attendee. To find out your specific savings, refer to flyers attached to this letter. An early head count also helps the region save money because it makes the guaranteed head count we give to the event venue as accurate as possible. Register today!
The 2017 American Baptist Churches, USA Biennial Mission Summit gathered Portland, Oregon gathered under the theme, "Connect." It concluded Sunday evening with the Lord’s Supper. "Connect" stood on a three-legged stool of sub-themes – “Connected to Christ," "Connected to Each Other," and "Connected in Joy.”
It is with the mixed emotions of sadness, affection, respect, deep gratitude and well-wishes that we announce the retirement of Mrs. Linda E. Porter, ABCNJ’s Accountant and Region Office Coordinator. For the past two years Linda has been sharing with us about her desire to retire, and the time has come.
The recent terrorist attacks in England, the apparently politically motivated shooting that took place in Virginia, ongoing debates over how to treat immigrants and visitors to our country, and the struggles of another Baptist denomination to take a clear stand on issues related to white supremacy remind us all that we are living in a violent and divided world that desperately needs to overcome every form of social and political discrimination and search for more just ways to live in harmony.
Following the call of the Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer to the office of General Secretary of the American Baptist Churches, USA, the ABCNJ Council implemented an established succession plan and appointed me as Interim Executive Minister and Senior Regional Pastor effective June 1, 2017. The transition was swift by any account. Like in the story of Elijah in II Kings, God has acted in the "whirlwind" in the call of Dr. Spitzer as our denomination's General Secretary. But in that "whirlwind” - as God would normally do - God clarifies and discloses the divine will.