The 2017 American Baptist Churches, USA Biennial Mission Summit gathered in Portland, Oregon 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.”
Commencing on Friday, each evening was anchored in worship, during which each member of the National Executive Council (NEC) was the scheduled preacher on each of those sub-themes:
- Rev. Sharon T. Koh, Executive Director of International Ministries
- Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, Executive Director of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies
- Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer, General Secretary of ABCUSA.
Mornings and afternoons were filled with fellowship meetings of the various segments of our diverse denominational family. Our family gathered for Bible studies, a wide array of “learning opportunities” around emergent and current ministry issues, and Mission Summit “conversations” around the pressing challenges facing churches across the country. A spirit of joyful energy filled the entire event as colleagues and friends reunited and renewed ties. A sense of renewal and inspired discoveries were evident as stories about ministry and mission were shared and heard. And certainly, not escaping the notice of all in a place like Portland, perfect daily weather was had every single day of the Biennial!
Perhaps most remarkable was this Biennial was the first for Rev. Sharon T. Koh, Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, and Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer. All three leaders were called to their respective positions within the last two years. Dr. Spitzer, in his sermon during the Sunday morning worship service, called American Baptists to rededicate themselves to the transforming gospel of Jesus, to connect to the world through Christ-like love, friendship and sacrificial service. He urged our denominational family to share our wealth, engage in prophetic witness, to welcome the stranger and care for God’s creation.
American Baptists are entering a new era of leadership and, with that, a new era of hopes and dreams.