ABCNJ Academy

Academy at the 2016 Annual Session a huge success


On Friday of Annual Session weekend, over 120 ABCNJ pastors gathered for the ABCNJ Academy at Annual Session. This year's Acedemy offered an opportunity to listen and dialogue with leaders from other world religions living in New Jersey. We hosted a Buddhist professor of Eastern Religions, the Muslim chaplain from Princeton University and an Assistant Rabbi from a New Jersey synagogue. These leaders shared their experiences living as a member of a minority religion in the United States. They were gracious as they fielded some insightful questions from the gathered ABCNJ pastors and commented about the wonderful hospitality they received. Rev. Hojin Yu asks a question during the AcademyThose in attendance also had the pleasure of hearing reflections from Elie Haddad and Daniel Buttry, both of whom minister in contexts in which gracious interfaith dialog is an essential task.

Elie is the president of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut, Lebanon. He shared the Christian church’s experience and conditions serving in a Muslim majority nation of 4 million people with an influx of 1.5 million mostly Muslim Syrian refugees. Elie also described the lessons being learned by the Baptist churches as they have begun to reach out to meet the needs of others outside their own congregations.

Dan is one of ABCUSA's International Global Consultants on peacemaking, and works through International Ministries. Many times over the years he has conducted training sessions with people groups experiencing conflicts or worked with interfaith groups. He also shared his personal experiences of living in an American city with the largest Arab Muslim population in the United States.

Dr. Spitzer closed the day with a presentation on Christian Evangelism within our multicultural and multi-faith neighborhoods here in New Jersey. Dr. Spitzer's talk encouraged attendees to wrestle with questions both about our theology as Christians and our desire for people of other religions to come to know Jesus as the Savior of the world.

Academy at Annual Session was a wonderful way to kick off Annual Session weekend and reminded participants how gracious listening is an both important aspect loving our neighbors and a essential tool for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Philippians – Growing Spiritual Fruit


Philippians – Growing Spiritual Fruit [lead]How is the Bible able to help us with spiritual formation? Are these words, written thousands of years ago, still helpful for our growth as Christians in the 21st Century? How might the experiences of early believers inform our own walk with Christ?[/lead]

The ABCNJ Academy and Palmer Theological Seminary invite you to explore the book of Philippians with us on Mondays in April. This letter has been foundational to Christian spiritual growth for much of the Church's history. Through study and discussion, we hope to experience Scripture in new and powerful ways and renew our appreciation for God's word as we study alongside other believers.

Lunch is provided, so bring your appetites and come ready to grow!

Presenter Schedule

Date Presenter
Monday, April 4 Dr. Marsha Brown Woodard
Monday, April 11 Dr. George Hancock-Stefan
Monday, April 18 Dr. Willette Burgie-Bryant
Monday, April 25 Dr. Paul Alexander

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Cost $25 (includes lunch and parking)

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ABCNJ Pastors' Academy wants your input!

ABCNJ Academy, in conjunction with Rev. Joe Gratzel, is considering offering a special training course, "Mental Health First Aid." This 8 hour course is an in-person training which teaches clergy how to help people developing a mental illness or in a crisis." Those who complete the course should:

  • Be able to understand how to recognize the signs of addictions and mental illnesses
  • Be able to create a 5-step action plan to assess a situation and help
  • Be able to analyze the impact of mental and substance use disorders
  • Be able to locate local resources and know where to turn for additional help

The Academy is considering offering this class as an overnight retreat at Camp Lebanon, beginning Monday evening and ending early Tuesday afternoon.

We are asking for ABCNJ clergy to help us gauge interest in this course offering. Just click/tap the button below to fill out a one minute survey. We will use the responses to help design our plans.

[button color="blue" link="" size="default" target="_self" block="false"]Please take our survey[/button]

New Visions – Life Planning and Retirement Preparation


What do you think your retirement will look like? Do you imagine yourself lost in "ministry itches" you've long put off? Are you looking forward reading books in a hammock while sipping tea. Do you envision retirement as a time of adventure, travel, and new horizons? These can be wonderful goals, but if you don't plan for retirment in advance you retirement may turn out to be a different sort of adventure all together full of unneccessary stress and anxiety.

"New visions" is designed for professional church leaders who are 50 and up and will be held at the region office on October 26 & 27. Join us for what we promise will be a fun and exciting adventure with Dr. Doug Wheeler of the Center for Career Development and Ministry and retired Executive Minister of ABC Connecticut, Dr. Lowell Fewster.

The workshop will be an opportunity for you and your spouse to engage in discussions to start thinking and working towards the retirement you desire rather than one that will just happen to you. Included in this event will be an opportunity to work one on one with a representative of MMBB on your account.

[button color="blue" link="" size="default" target="_self" block="false"]Register Today[/button]

The workshop will run from 10AM to 4PM both days.

Baptists in the Arab World – A dinner conversation


The ABCNJ GoGlobal task force and the ABCNJ Academy are delighted to co-host a special dinner conversation with Elie Haddad on Monday, June 1st. Elie is the President of Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut, Lebanon. American Baptist Missionaries, Daniel and Sarah Chetti, also serve at this school. The dinner will take place at Chesterfield Baptist Church, beginning at 6PM. The dinner is free, though reservations are required to attend. Please click/tap the button below to make your reservation on EventBrite. Reservations close May 27, don’t wait too long!

Pastors who attend will receive ABCNJ Academy credit, but attendance is not limited to pastors! Lay people are most welcome to participate in this unique and powerful event.

A free will offering will be taken that evening to offset the cost of the meal and provide an offering for the work of Arab Baptist Theological Seminary.

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Elie Haddad Biography

Born and raised in Lebanon, Elie immigrated to Canada towards the end of the civil war in Lebanon in 1990. He worked for 15 years in Toronto as a senior Information Systems & Management consultant.

During his work, Elie felt called to ministry and so enrolled in a Masters of Theological Studies (MTS) program at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto alongside his involvement with the Middle East Baptist Church in Mississauga where he served as a member of a lay pastoral team.

In 2005, Elie and his wife Mireille felt called to return to Lebanon, where - as a missionary with the Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM) – Elie joined the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) serving as Provost until 2008 when he became President.

Elie, currently pursuing a PhD in missional ecclesiology at the International Baptist Theological Seminary (IBTS) in Amsterdam, has a heart for the mobilization of the Church.

ABCNJ Academy Presents – Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries


Course Description

Come embrace an opportunity for spiritual growth and formation within the presence and power of the Holy Spirit for clergy and laity. Paricipants will be guided through one of two teaching/workshop tracks. One for laity and one for clergy. The day will end with a panel discussion and question & answer time with the teaching team from Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries.

Date and Time

Saturday, March 8, 2014 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM (EST)


We are pleased to be hosted by Columbus Baptist Church:

24260 West Main Street Columbus, NJ 08022
Follow this link for directions.


  • There is a $25 registration fee to attend this event.

Register Online

To register for this Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries event, follow this link.

Leadership Team

  • Dr. John Piippo, Professor of Spiritual Formation at Payne Seminary and Senior Pastor of Redeemer Baptist Church, Monroe, MI
  • Norelle Lutke, workshop leader and Vice Chairman of Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries, Witchita, KS
  • Dr. Clay Ford, workshop leader and Chairman of Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries, San Diego, CA
  • Dr. Ed Senior Pastor, Olivet Baptist Church, Lansing, MI


If you would like to promote this event in your church, feel free to download the flyer listed below.

ABCNJ Academy Presents – "Idea Painting"


Course Description

As our society continues its shift to visual communication, instructors must find new ways through which information may be communicated with students. While the tools for effective instruction are common (digital projectors, laptops, tablets, etc.) our teaching methods often fail to match the new reality they create. This course will focus on helping instructors explore a new method of communication while freeing a digital projection screen to be true to its design as a visual medium. Students in this class will be introduced to the concepts behind "Idea Painting" through lecture and practical exercises. By the end of the course they will have put together a five minute presentation using the skills they have acquired throughout the course's progression.

Course Goals

Participants will be introduced to the theory of visual presentations, and a basic method for putting a visual presentation together. Throughout the course, participants will work collaboratively to create a visual presentation –which they will then present to the class.

Course Schedule

  • 02/18/2014 – 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM
Getting into the idea - Learn the basic theory of Sermon-Painting and watch some “painting” clips. Receive presentation assignments.
  • 02/19/2014 – 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM
Plugging the images - Learn how to mark up a manuscript with media tags and how to search for images. Practice “tagging” manuscripts.
  • 02/25/2014 – 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM
Freeing your slides - Minimizing slide-clutter and using speaker-notes. Collaborate on polishing the slides for the final project.
  • 02/26/2014 – 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM
Taking the stage - Present final projects!


Classes will be held in the ABCNJ Regional Office:

3752 Nottingham Way, Suite 101Trenton, NJ 08690


  • Idea Painting has a $25 registration fee.


To participate in this course participants will need to have the following:

  • Basic knowledge of a presentation program (Power Point, Impress, Keynote, etc.)
  • A laptop or other mobile computing solution

About the instructor

Rev. Wesley T Allen is the Communications Director for the American Baptists Churches of New Jersey and the pastor of the Central Baptist Church of Riverton-Palmyra. His "Idea Painting" concepts emerged from his ten-year reflection on the integration of technology and preaching.

Register Today!

Follow this link to register for Idea Painting. Space is limited, so don't delay!


Partnership Perspectives at the Academy


Annual Session weekend kicked off Friday at Cathedral International in Perth Amboy. Around 50 pastors, associate pastors, and lay-staff gathered for "conversations on ministry." I was privileged to sit in conversation with Rev. Alan Rudnick, pastor of First Baptist Church in Ballston Spa New York and author of The Work of the Associate Pastor. Through his talk on "Partnership Perspectives" he encouraged associate pastors along their particular ministry path. Alan's conversation not only helped associate ministers in their "Church work," he also illustrated their unique roll in overcoming some of the challenges of our age.

In short, it's precisely because an associate pastor isn't the "face" of the congregation that they are able to find those areas and people who have fallen in-between the cracks in our ministries. The work of an associate, in other words, is a creative calling.

If you were not able to attend the Academy Session at Cathedral International, you can find a copy of Alan's book by following this link.

Fanning the Flame Pastor's Conference


What a time we had at First Baptist Bethlehem in Bethlehem, PA with our sisters and brothers from both ABCNJ and ABCOPAD (American Baptist Churches of PA & DE). It was good to get together for a Pastor's Conference April 15th-17th with pastors and ministers from both sides of the Delaware River. We were able to catch up with old friends, make some new friends and form a learning community for the three days. Our theme was Faith Soaring Churches and featured Church Sociologist, Dr. George Bullard. He presented us with a lot of information on what helps congregations to climb higher in faith and service to our Lord. He also presented the opportunity to download as an e-book for free to all participants his new book FaithSoaring Churches from which he was speaking.

The driver's seat analogy

One of the illustrations that he presented to us came as a 4 seated car with Josh Spitzer volunteering as the driver. Josh represented vision while Joe Gratzel sat next to him representing relationships. In the back seat were Greg McMillan representing management and David Cox representing programs. As long as this arrangement takes place in a church, the church can gain momentum in faithfulness and service in God's Kingdom. But if the guys in the back take over the front seats and especially if management is driving, a church's forward momentum slows and within a short time frame the church will go into decline. Vision needs to drive a church and relationships need to undergird this endeavor.

Another theme that was developed during the conference was the need for us to be people of passion as pastors and to look for other passionate people in our congregations. Together we can catch the vision that God has for the current seasons in the life of our congregations and share it with our other faithful church leaders. Together in faith we can follow the Holy Spirit's lead and provide effective love and service to our congregations and communities.

As the Director of the ABCNJ Academy, I was very pleased with this first attempt at a Regional Pastor's Conference and truly appreciate the partnership with our sister region as we brought new learnings and fellowship to over 100 pastors in our churches.


Fanning the Flame Pastor's Conference


Time Is Running Short

April is just around the corner!  We think of Spring - yeah!  Let's also think of Fanning the Flame!!!  We're now down to two weeks before the conference starts on Monday April 15th.  So you better and hurry and register for the conference.

Faith Soaring Churches will be the only churches alive in 15 years!

George BullardOur featured speaker is Dr. George Bullard.  He will be leading us through his new book, Faith Soaring Churches, which each participant at the conference will receive.  We will have opportunities for working through a variety of exercises from the book with him.  We will also have times of sharing, questions and reflection.  So come and spend Monday evening April 15th - Wednesday noon April 17th with colleagues from ABCNJ & ABCOPAD at First Baptist Church Bethlehem, PA.

One Accord in Palmyra


On Monday, March 4, Central Baptist Church in Palmyra hosted an Accordance Training seminar.  Accordance is widely regarded to be the most powerful Bible software package on the Mac platform, and will be making it's first foray on to Windows computers in 2013.  The training seminar was geared mostly for current Accordance users, but it was useful for anyone who is interested in seeing how powerful studying the Bible on the computer can be.  Relationships between books, even comparing the language of one book to another, can be done quickly and elegantly with the software tools currently on the market.  In this way research, which can take hours using printed materials, can be reduced to moments.  This frees up time for more reflection when preparing for a sermon, Sunday school lesson, or Bible study . In the future, Accordance will become as powerful on mobile devices, such as the iPad, as it is on "traditional computers." The tools currently restricted to desktops and laptops may soon be available everywhere.

If you either use Accordance, or are interested in this tool, use the form below to indicate your interest in participating in an ABCNJ Accordance user group.

[contact-form subject=" Accordance Response" to=""][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Rate your interest in an Accordance User Group' type='select' required='1' options='Very interested,Somewhat Interested,I would like more information on the software,I use another tool%26#x002c; could I be connected with other users?'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form]

Accordance training for ABCNJ credit


Accordance bible software has, for years, been the premier bible software suite for the Macintosh platform.  Since the arrival of the iPhone and iPad, a version of Accordance has been available mobile devices.  In 2013 they will, for the first time, release a native version for Windows (it will currently run on Windows by use of an emulator). On March 4 they will be coming to Central Baptist Church in Palmyra, New Jersey for a free 1 day training seminar.  The arc of the training will take participants through learning the interface, to setting up personal tools and notes, to doing complex searches on the Biblical text.

ABCNJ is happy to offer academy credit for all pastors who attend this seminar.  Even if you are not currently a user of Accordance, or use another software suite to study the Bible, this training seminar is a wonderful opportunity to explore the possibilities which open up to pastors through these powerful tools.  See the attached pdf for more details, and follow this link for more details on what will be covered during the seminar and to register for the training.

Note: You must register for the seminar through the Accordance web-site!


Exciting New Course from ABCNJ Academy

The clergy of ABCNJ are privileged to have Dr. Paul Borden with us for a day of continuing education on Monday, October 22nd.  This is the next class offered by the ABCNJ Academy and will count as one of the eight courses needed toward the requirements of the Certificate of Excellence for clergy who have their M. Div. degree.  You are invited to join with the staff of ABCNJ for a presentation by Dr. Paul Borden, the Executive Minister of Growing Healthy Churches, on his book, Make or Break Your Church in 365 Days.  This is a book on time management for pastors.

How does a pastor determine the important and effective use of time without pushing oneself toward burnout in accomplishing the work of ministry?  Paul has been working with pastors in his region to help them become more effective with the use of their time on a weekly basis.  Such practical ideas and suggestions are not something one learns in any traditional seminary course.  So time management can be a difficult and overwhelming task for pastors both new and old.  Pastoral ministry covers so many different aspects and topics within the life of a church with ministry opportunities and ideas never coming to an end.  Paul’s book and his presentation will help answer this question.

We will be gathering at the regional office in Hamilton Square, NJ at 11:00 am and the course will be over by 4:00 pm.  The course will cost $15 per person including lunch.  Please click here for the registration form and also email Dr. Pete Ely, Director of the ABCNJ Academy to let him know you have registered.  When registered you will have committed yourself to a valuable and practical continuing education course!

FOR ABCNJ Clergy - Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

2012 Together in Ministry Groups for Pastors

3 Weeks of Theological Discussion – 9 Innings of Fellowship

ABCNJ Pastors – join the region’s regional ministry team (Lee, Elmo and Vern) and guest presenters for a freewheeling and penetrating study of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)!   We are forming two Together in Ministry groups (limit: 12 pastors per group).  The discussion dates are all on Mondays – April 23, May 7 and May 14.  You can sign up for either the luncheon discussion group that will meet at the region office (11:00 am – 2:00 pm) OR the dinner discussion group that will meet at Dr. Spitzer’s home (5:30 pm – 8:30 pm).  All meal costs are covered by the TIM grant.  Both groups will study the same chapter each week.  A special facilitator will kick off each week’s discussion:
  • Rev. Wesley Allen will “sermon paint” Matthew 5 for us on April 23!
  • Rev. Dr. Stanley Slade (IM Global Consultant – Bible Study) will be with us for Matthew 6 on May 7!
  • Rev. Dr. Donald Brash (Palmer Seminary Associate Professor of Historical Theology) will join us on May 14 and help us discuss Matthew 7!
ABCNJ Academy Credit will be granted to those who participate in all 3 sessions.
In addition to study and growth, TIM Groups also cultivate collegiality and fellowship.  So, as we study the Sermon on the Mount, participating clergy will also be invited to see some great Pitching on the Mound – at Yankee Stadium on Monday evening, April 30!  Tickets are free (courtesy of our TIM grant) but everyone is responsible for their personal travel and food.  We will car pool to and from the Bronx to cut down on costs.
Registration is limited to 24 pastors who commit to attending all 3 weeks of theological conversation.   To register, please email Dr. Lee Spitzer at and indicate whether you wish to join the lunch or dinner group.  In your email, please confirm that you can attend all 3 sessions for your time slot.  Once a group has reached its limit of 12, registration for it will close – so don’t delay!