Greetings ABCNJ family! It has been a little over a month since I began to serve as your Executive Minister and Senior Regional Pastor. I continue to be humbled and honored in serving alongside sisters and brothers who are committed to proclaiming God’s deeds of power in Christ for all people to hear. I am grateful to be leading in a Region that offers each one of us the opportunity to serve in a manner that encourages conversation and welcomes the differing gifts of the diverse oneness of the Body of Christ.
As we begin this journey together, I want us to consider a specific and intentional posture found in the book of Acts. From the moment we open the book of Acts we are introduced to these words, “they all joined together constantly in prayer…” (Acts 1:14). “When the day of Pentecost had come, they are all together in one place.” (Acts 2:1); “They devoted themselves to…teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer.” (Acts 2:42)
God’s community is invited to come together and join in prayer. Prayer is the language of the heart and community is the quality of the heart. Although to live in community does not necessarily mean to be physically in one place, it does require us to live as one in the Body of Christ. As God’s beloved community we recognize that we are diverse. We are individuals with different experiences and knowledge. And as the ABCNJ community we are strong by the rich diversity of our theological perspectives, gender, age, geography, social economics, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. And in the midst of this diversity we are called to be together by the same Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
When the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost, they were set free to move out of their closed room into the world. They became a body of free people who could stay in communion with each other even though they were not in the same room. ABCNJ, we too are called to practice community and to speak the language of the heart. When we pray, community is created as well as expressed.
In addition to prayer, and in the spirit of Acts 13:2 and 14:23, I also invite you to participate in the spiritual discipline of fasting. We are reminded in Scripture that the community often fasted when they sought God’s will and needed the strength and grace to remain faithful to God’s work. Consider setting aside at least one day a week to the spiritual practice of fasting.
As we enter into a new dawn, ABCNJ family and friends are invited to a Sacred Journey of Prayer and Fasting. Beginning Sunday, February 10 through Sunday, April 21. These are some of the prayers we can lift up together for the next 11 weeks:
The American Baptist Churches of New Jersey
Camp Lebanon Ministries
Pastors and their families
Mentoring young Leaders
Youth and Young Adult Ministry
Churches in leadership transition
Church Officers and Leaders Training (COAL) - March 16, 2019
ABCNJ Ministry Team
ABCNJ Council, Committees and Task Forces
ABCNJ Associations - (Capital, Essex, Greater Delaware Valley, North, Raritan, North Shore, Florida, Watchung, West)
Sacred Safe Spaces: Healing Circles Initiatives
New Church Plants/Fresh Expression Communities
ABCNJ Annual Session - September, 27-28, 2019
Seminaries and University Partners
Chaplains and Counselors
Courageous and discerning conversations for unity in the Body of Christ
Public expression of our faith
Incarnating God’s justice and peace in our local communities