Dear Friends in Christ,
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.
Many have asked why it was stated in the prior announcement of my appointment that I am not candidating in the ensuing search for the new ABCNJ Executive Minister. It is true that in accepting the role of "Interim" I am intentionally removing myself from being a candidate in the future search for the next Executive Minister and Senior Regional Pastor of ABCNJ. For quite some time now, and long before the search for the General Secretary was even conceived, I have been sharing with Dr. Spitzer that my dream was to retire from regional ministry when I turn 62 so that I can devote my time more fully to my expanding family, and at the same time open myself to new ways that God might use my remaining years of active ministry. This year I am turning 62!
In contemplating that, and engaging in the discipline of spiritual reflection upon how my 13 years of wonderful ministry in ABCNJ has shaped my journey, I have discerned in my spirit God’s gentle call to theological education to be the next chapter of my ministry journey. My ministry with and among the congregations and pastors of ABCNJ has taught me immeasurable lessons about the life of the church - lessons that I am now eager to share in the vital work of preparing future leaders of the church through teaching and close mentorship.
Accordingly, in the “whirlwind” God is also swinging the doors wide open for ABCNJ to discern who God will raise up to lead it into the future so that its impact in the work of the kingdom may increase all the more. I am convinced that my stepping aside as a candidate is part of God’s plan so that the community of faith of ABCNJ may discern God’s call in newness and complete freedom. And, while I have agreed to a one year term in this post, I want to assure each and everyone of you that I will not leave until the search process reaches a positive conclusion.
In light of this, I call on all of us to hold to the way of the exciting and transformative ministry of our region. I will focus my energies in this next year on the following major goals:
- To work vigorously with our gifted ministry team and Council leadership in sustaining the vision of ABCNJ and in implementing its ministry priorities and programs relative to the health and faithfulness of our congregations and pastors.
- To ensure the uninterrupted operations of the agency and its fiduciary responsibilities so that the integrity of our institution is protected and its witness to Christ’s presence is held to the highest standard.
- To be attentive to creative new opportunities for partnership and growth in ministry and mission.
- To ensure that the search committee for the next Executive Minister is adequately supported and resourced.
May we all be found faithful!