Dr. Familiaran Represents ABC on Philippine Typhoon Relief Mission

By Benjamin SL Chan, International Ministries
Rev. Dr. Elmo Familiaran, Associate Regional Pastor/Area Minister of the American Baptist Churches in New Jersey (ABCNJ,) is running a series of meetings on typhoon relief in the Philippines beginning January 28, 2014.  American Baptist International Ministries (IM), the World Relief Office and ABCNJ are working together to plan the second phase of typhoon relief in the Philippines.  Rev. Familiaran, Associate Regional Pastor/Area Minister of ABNCJ, has graciously agreed to visit the affected areas and represent the three organizations to meet with leaders of the Convention of Philippines Baptist Churches. He is helping us gain better understanding of the current relief work, and what is needed to restore the operation of the Baptist institutions and normal life of the citizens. The information gathered will be used to shape the focus of the coming relief work. We will share the plan with American Baptist family.
Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines on November 8, 2013 and devastated the country. Click to read related posting:

Hurricane Sandy Response - Awesome Deeds of Righteousness!


ABCNJ/ABHMS Sandy Work Week

Making a Difference!



ABCNJ and our American Baptist partners are making a difference on the Jersey shore (and beyond)!

Volunteers from FBC Westfield

The third of four Hurricane Sandy Relief work weeks, sponsored jointly by ABCNJ and the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, is coming to a successful close.  Volunteers from New Jersey (ABCNJ), Pennsylvania (ABCOPAD), Indiana (ABC Ind/KY), Rhode Island (ABCORI) and West Virginia (WVBC) are among those participating - 94 in all!

As Executive Minister and Senior Regional Pastor of ABCNJ, I am so proud of how our region and its churches have responded to the storm.  We have repaired and rebuilt buildings, and more importantly, have served our communities in countless ways.These work weeks demonstrate that we are not alone - the entire ABCUSA family is alongside us!  And we are making a difference in the lives of families along the shore and beyond.  Folks keep letting us know how much they appreciate what the volunteers are doing.

I had the opportunity to visit some of the work sites on Tuesday (August 16), accompanied by Victoria Goff (ABHMS), Denise Gratzel (ABCNJ Disaster Relief Coordinator) and Mark Mahserjian-Smith (ABCOPAD).

A refrigerator damaged by the storm.

This has been an extraordinarily hot week, but that has not dampened the enthusiasm of our volunteers.  Each day they keep on serving!

Our Hurricane Sandy Response volunteers are involved in many activities, including painting interior walls of homes damaged by the storm, cleaning up and beautifying yards, hauling debris from homes (like refrigerators!), preparing a community center for future relief activities, and preparing the building adjacent to ABCNJ's Pilgrim Baptist Church, for future ministry.

But it is not just the physical labor that is touching peoples' lives.  Our volunteers have also been listening to the stories of and then praying with those they are helping.  Many have been through so much trauma and they deeply appreciate a listening and compassionate friend.

Victoria Goff, a homeowner, Denise Gratzel and Lee Spitzer

awesome deeds of righteousness

2013-07 Sandy Work Week 8As I reflected on what is happening in our midst, I was led to read Psalm 65.  In verse 5 and 7, David exclaims: "You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, ...who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves."  This week, I witnessed the "awesome deeds of righteousness" of God's people in response to the storm of a century, and from their actions, God's grace and love brought a measure of peace and consolation to those whose lives have been tossed about.

Looking to the future, we still have a work week scheduled for August 10-17, 2013.   In 2014, we hope to sponsor two more work weeks.

ABCNJ/ABHMS Hurricane Sandy Work Week 2

ABHMS/ABCNJ Work Week # 2, June 1-8

A Report by Denise Gratzel, ABCNJ Disaster Response Coordinator

We have a wonderful Team consisting of volunteers from Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Illinois.

They have been busy working on two of our ABC , one in Rahway and the other in Red Bank.

2013-06-06 Hurrican Sandy Work weekRahway suffered water damage and the church had to put on a new roof due to Hurricane Sandy. The other is a home where volunteers will be housed when they come to serve.  The jobs included sheet rocking, painting, ceiling tile replacement and the removal of moldy insulation.

The delicious dinners were provided by local churches and church members.  The only complaint volunteers have had is the weight gain, so don't come prepared to loose weight.  We'll make you sweat but you will not loose weight .   FBC Manasquan, Pastor Joe Gratzel worked very hard with church members and town officials to have two showers installed in time for the week.

Outings included a visit to Seaside Heights board walk and canoeing.  If you are considering serving God in NJ though one of our two work weeks left, please register early.  Because of the huge interest so far we are considering stopping registration at 100 volunteers per week.

July week is in Manasquan area again and August week we will be in Atlantic County , south Jersey.  We will close registrations for both weeks two weeks before that work week starts.

May God bless you as you prepare to come join us Rebuild , Restore and Renew the Jersey shore areas.


Celebrating Ministry at Iglesia Bautista Ebenezer in North Bergen


  Three members of ABCNJ's regional family joined with members of Iglesia Bautista Ebenezer in North Bergen to celebrate the effective pastoral ministry of Rev. Carlos A. Goyanes. Dr. Norma Fair-Brown (Moderator of North New Jersey Association), Rev. Ignacio Cartagena (representing ABCNJ Latino Ministries), and Dr, Lee B. Spitzer (ABCNJ Executive Minister and Senior Regional Pastor) presented Rev. Goyanes with his ABCNJ Certificate of Recognition of Ordination.  He was ordained in Cuba in 1991, and has been serving in our region for the past decade.  Also pictured in the photograph is Adela Carrazana, who translated the sermon for Dr. Spitzer.

(Photos by Ricardo A. Huergo)

ABCNJ Youth Thrive at IMMERSE


Report by Rev. Marella Holmes, ABCNJ Associate Regional Pastor for Youth Ministries

Since 1972, the American Baptist Home Missions Societies hosts the National Gathering of American Baptist Youth conference every four years. IMMERSE 2012 was held on the campus of American University in Washington D.C on July 24-28, 2012. The conference theme was based on Romans 12:1-2 (MSG). The goal of the conference was to mobilize and engage American Baptist Youth to be disciples and leaders in their church, school and community.

ABCNJ had a delegation of almost 50 youth and youth ministers/leaders attend the conference. Regional churches represented at the conference were: Evergreen- Teaneck, FBC Kenilworth, FBC New Brunswick, Shiloh –Trenton, FBC- New Market, FBC Westfield and Mt. Zion-Newark. The delegation participated in daily worship, speaker presentations, small group discussion, back home small groups and dorm devotion. The highlight of the conference was two days of mission outreach in the Washington D.C. area. The ABCNJ delegation assisted the elderly with light food shopping and errands, gleaned collard greens for families in poverty, and fed children in the City Gate’s summer program.

The second day of the conference was dedicated to advocacy. A panel discussion provided the attendees with a broad array of opportunities to put faith into action. The panel consisted of community service agency leaders to recent mission trip participants. The region’s Reverend Ty Choate, pastor of the FBC Red Bank, was one of the participants on the panel discussion. After the panel discussion the conference attendees participated in a Prayer Walk on the National Mall in Washington D.C.

The day of advocacy ended with a powerful worship service encouraging the conference attendees to be a catalyst for change in their church and communities. At the end of the worship service almost 200 youth accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior and while others rededicated their life to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

The last day of the conference ended with an inspirational commissioning service which charged the youth and youth ministers/leaders to be ‘the hands and feet of Jesus Christ’ in their church, school and community. Praise God for a wonderful, enriching and powerful conference.

An ABCNJ Regional Conversation - Pastor Emeritus Issue

ABCNJ Report - Emeritus by Dr Lee B Spitzer Over 50 people throughout the region participated in a virtual conversation about church policies and practices regarding honoring pastors with Emeritus status.  I have compiled the results and added some thoughts of my own.  Click the link above to see the whole report.



ABCNJ's Got Talent! - The Search is On!

Announcing the 2012 ABCNJ Annual Session Music Search

We all know ABCNJ has some of the most gifted and talented people around.  Here's your chance to share some of those gifts with the region and the world!  If your church has a worship team or choir, they could be our worship leaders for Annual Session in September!   Here's how:

  1. Write an original song around our theme, "Caring Pastors, Caring Churches, Caring Mission," and Matthew 5:14 - “You are the light of the world.”.
  2. Release that song under a CreativeCommons license and share the music with our ABCNJ Churches through the region office (we'll make sure it gets out).
  3. Record your group singing the song, and post it up on YouTube for us and the world to see!  Send the link to  Or, send a DVD to the region office.
  4. (Don’t have an original song?  Video your team or choir singing a song that fits the theme, and we’ll still consider it!).

All submissions should be in by April 12, 2012.  By submitting a song for consideration, your group or choir is stating they are available to lead singing at Annual Session, September 29, 2012.

Let's show the world the creativity we possess all throughout our region!

Annual Session Preview: IM Missionary Lauran Bethell on Anti-Sex Trade Ministry


ABCNJ is excited to announce that one of our plenary speakers for the 2012 ABCNJ Annual Session is ABCUSA International Ministries missionary Lauran Bethell.  Rev. Bethell has spearheaded our denomination's efforts to confront the world-wide sex trade and trafficking industry and to rescue women and girls from prostitution. To whet your appetite for her appearance, here is a 9 minute video interview she did for an organization in Holland:


ABCNJ Alive Video: Haitian Evangelical Jersey City


Welcome to ABCNJ Alive - our region's video blog celebrating all the great things happening within the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey. Haitian Evangelical Baptist Church is one of 20 Haitian Baptist Churches in our regional fellowship.  I spoke there on January 29, 2012.  Enjoy the interviews and worship!