Journeying By Faith into the New Year

Note: This letter was mailed to all churches and pastors on Thursday, January 9, 2013.

A Regional Update Letter from the ABCNJ Ministry Team for Pastors and Church Leaders

Dear ABCNJ Pastors and Church Leaders:

As we journey by faith into the new year, I believe that God is going to bless our regional fellowship and mission in many ways.   ABCNJ is an amazing assemblage of gifted pastors and committed churches, and your regional ministry team is dedicated to supporting and encouraging you as you share the light and love of Jesus with your neighbors, communities and beyond.

The ABCNJ Ministry Team Expands!

In 2012, we added several part-time specialist positions to our team.  Rev. Marella Holmes was called to serve as Associate Regional Pastor for Youth Ministries.  Rev. Fred Daugherty and Rev. William Coleman were called to serve as Associate Regional Pastored for Retired Clergy.  ABCNJ has initiated this outreach in partnership with MMBB.   Though not a new position, Dr. Karen Jackson-Weaver joined the team as the Director of New Church Development.

As we begin 2013, we are very pleased to announce the call of Rev. Erin Phillips as half-time Associate Regional Pastor.  She will focus on ministering to churches in the Capital and North Shore Associations.  Please read and share her call announcement.

Erin has joined the team just when we needed her the most!  That’s because, as many of you already know, Rev. Vern Mattson broke his leg just before Christmas and is out on an extended medical leave.  He will return to active service when his physician clears him to drive.  Dr. Elmo Familiaran, Erin and I will cover his responsibilities while he is on leave.  We have also decided to postpone COAL, one of Vern’s major project responsibilities (usually scheduled for 2 Saturdays in March) and incorporate it in to the 2013 Annual Session.   As you lift Vern up in prayer, please also pray for Dr. Frank Reeder, ABCNJ’s Associate Regional Pastor for Pastor to Pastor Ministry, who has recently suffered significant health issues that required a hospital stay after Christmas.

In 2013, we will also welcome Rev. Tamara Davis as a specialist in “Safe Churches” – our new initiative to help ABCNJ churches minister to children and adults who have suffered abuse.  This is a key issue that many churches avoid, and we want to break the silence in a positive and constructive way.  I also want to congratulate Rev. Gina Jacobs-Strain, ABCNJ Associate Regional Pastor for Women in Ministry, on her ordination which took place on January 6, 2013.  It was a great service of celebration! 

Ministry to ABCNJ Pastors in 2013

You can count on ABCNJ to serve the region’s pastors and clergy in several ways throughout 2013.   Our Bridge Pastor ministry, coordinated by Rev. Leslie Martin, is especially designed to express caring and support.  Bridge Pastors are assigned by association.   When your Bridge Pastor calls you on the phone or invites you to a small group breakfast or lunch, take advantage of this opportunity to share what is going on in your life and ministry.  If there is anything they feel should be passed on to the regional team for follow-up, they will ask your permission to do so.  Their goal is to care for and support you.  You are not alone in ministry; you have a family that loves you and wants you to succeed!

Here is the list of Bridge Pastors for 2013:

  • Capital Association: Rev. Dr. William Webb
  • Essex Association: Rev. Dr. Leora Liggins
  • Greater Delaware Valley Association: Rev. Dr. Michael Feicht, Rev. Jay Thatcher and Rev. Bob Santilli
  • North New Jersey Association: Revs. Dorcas Diaz-Shaner, Donald Shaner and Richard Sharber
  • North Shore Association: Rev. Jim King
  • Raritan Association: Rev. Edwin Aymat
  • Watchung Association: Rev. Dr. John Hayward
  • West New Jersey Association: Rev. Dr. Frank Reeder
  • Haitian Pastors: Rev. Dr. Lemaire Alerte

Continuing education for clergy is vital to pastoral health and faithfulness.   The ABCNJ Academy will offer several courses in 2013.  Rev. Wes Allen, ABCNJ Associate Regional Pastor for Technology in Ministry,  will be teaching an “Idea Painting” course beginning in February.  ABCNJ and the American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware are co-hosting the Fanning the Flame 2013 conference on April 15-17 at FBC Bethlehem.   Our presenter will be Dr. George Bullard, who will share his newest research on “Soaring Churches.”   Apply for a continuing education scholarship from ABHMS and the event will be free!  A full announcement of the conference will go out shortly.

Pray for ABCNJ’s Ministry to Philippine Pastors

You have heard the story of ABCNJ’s July 2012 evangelistic mission on the campus of Central Philippine University, in which 1,376 students accepted Christ for the first time.  In follow-up, the Philippine Convention Baptist Ministers Association has invited Elmo and I to return and serve as keynote speakers for their Annual Meeting.  We will speak to some 800 pastors from all over that country.  International Ministries has generously provided a travel grant to cover our expenses.   Our trip is a brief one – from January 13-20, but we hope it will produce much spiritual fruit.  Please pray for us!