Annual Session

Annual Session 2016 - what a setting!


This year's Annual Session will take place at the amazing Ocean Place Resort & Spa in Long Branch. This picturesque location is right on the beach, and offers easy access to parking and numerous shopping and dining spots.  Why not make plans with some friends and spend the evening after Annual Session enjoying the sights, tastes, and sounds of the Jersey Shore? Or why not gather your church group after session closes and spend some time relaxing together as family?

This is a locale worth spending some time to get lost in the experience!

Early Bird Deadline

The early bird deadline is August 15, so make sure to register soon. It's easy, just use the button below!

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


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Friday Events

This package includes all Academy Sessions, Dinner, & Bonfire

Early Bird

[label style="success"]Before August 15[/label] $70


[label style="warning"]Before September 15[/label] $80

Late Registration

[label style="danger"]After September 15 & Door[/label] $90

Retired Clergy & Spouses

[label style="success"]Before August 15[/label] FREE

Bonfire & S'mores

[label style="warning"]Individual Ticket[/label] $10 [label style="success"]10 Tickets[/label] $75 [/column] [column size="1/3"]

Saturday Only

Saturday package includes parking, pre-session breakfast, and banquet luncheon.

Early Bird

[label style="success"]Before August 15[/label] $89


[label style="warning"]Before September 15[/label] $109

Late Registration

[label style="danger"]After September 15 & Door[/label] $129


Ages 6-12 $20 [/column] [column size="1/3"]

Full Package

Includes full access to all Friday and Saturday events.

Early Bird

[label style="success"]Before August 15[/label] $149


[label style="warning"]Before September 15[/label] $169

Late Registration

[label style="danger"]After September 15 & Door[/label] $199


Ages 6-12 $25 [/column] [/raw]

Celebration Rate - Baptismal Candidates

Baptismal candidates, as well as up to four family members, can register for Saturday at a special rate. These registrations will be handled by the Region Office.

Before August 15 $69

Get ready for Annual Session!

The 2016 ABCNJ Annual Session will be unforgettable! This year we are moving our venue to the beautiful Ocean Place Resort & Spa in Long Branch, NJ.

Don't forget! Early Bird registration ends on August 15. Why pay more than you have to? Register Today!

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

Friday, September 23

  • ABCNJ Academy – Sharing Jesus in a Pluralistic World
  • MMBB Pastor's Fellowship Dinner – Honoring our retired pastors
  • Camp Lebanon Beach Bonfire – Special rates for church groups and youth

Saturday, September 24

  • Annual Meeting – "OPEN" to God's call

Featuring Rev. Marilyn Turner, Mr. Elie Haddad, and Rev. Darrel Armstrong

  • Friends of ABCNJ Luncheon
  • Ocean Baptisms

For more information about this incredible weekend, visit our 2016 Annual Session section on

Downloadable Brochure

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2016 Annual Session Spread - Color

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2016 Annual Session Spread - Greyscale

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"Testify!" - Proclaim, Hear, Believe!


Dr. Alistair Brown Addresses 2015 ABCNJ Annual Session Theme

2015 ABCNJ Annual Session

At the recent 2015 American Baptist Churches of New Jersey Annual Session held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the over 600 people who attended the annual gathering heard the plenary address of Dr. Alistair Brown, president of Northern Seminary, an ABC-related school of theology located in an inner suburb of Chicago. That address was videotaped in its entirety by ABCNJ and if you click on the link provided in the preceding sentence, you can see and hear the entire address again.

Using Romans 10: 14-15 as his primary scripture text, Dr. Brown started his address by first lifting up the critical importance of seminary and theological education for the pastor who we call to lead the church, to handle the word of God and proclaim the message of eternal life. Through concise rhetorical questions, he illustrates this vital task: "How could it be that we would never consult a doctor who is not thoroughly prepared...engage an accountant who does not understand his/her profession...a lawyer unless he has spent years in the profession...but yet somehow today we think its alright for someone to handle the word of God and not be thoroughly prepared for the work of ministry? Seminary is part of the church's preparation for those who will lead it"

And so it also for the disciple - that each one must be prepared to handle the word of God and proclaim the message of eternal life. He addressed the theme, "Testify!" along three main points:

We need to have something to which we testify. Testifying is more than just talking about our loyalties, our hobbies, our beliefs. These are all inadequate comparisons to testifying about Christ. When we accept Christ, everything in our lives change. We are not our own, we were bought, we become utterly his. Christ comes into our lives not only as another furniture to occupy space in our homes. Christ comes and buys the whole house!

Our testimony should be that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. The central message of the Good News is that God so loved the world, that he sent an only son - not to condemn the world, but to save it; and those who believe in him will have eternal life. Jesus Christ is "Lord of all", and anyone who believes in him will not be put to shame, and everyone who calls on him will be saved. Salvation is available to everyone. He is the only savior - the way, the truth and the life.

Testifying means telling. We love the idea of our faith, more than the act of actually sharing it. We overrate the notion that our lives alone are sufficient witnesses to our faith. Testifying about Jesus Christ means "telling" about Jesus Christ. Referencing his text on Romans, he emphasized that people don't know what they have never been told!

Dr. Brown ended his stirring and inspiring address by reminding all of us that it is the very love of God that compels us to testify! Do you know how we find something new about what we have seen or heard that grabbed our attention, or moved us passionately, for the first time and then return to it a second or third time? You are encouraged to go to the video link above to hear Dr. Brown's address again.



The Unexpected Baptism


By: Dr. Lois Spitzer

Acts 22:16: “ And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name” (NIV).

As the ABCNJ Annual Session came to a close this year, the water baptism candidates were lining up. On their faces were expressions of pure joy and anticipation. As various ABCNJ pastors carried out the baptisms and lifted each believer out of the water, I noticed a mixture of emotions. One had tears of joy, one had a broad smile, and yet another seemed peaceful.

Baptism - Lee and Mia 2015 #1After Rev. Dr. Lee Spitzer baptized the last candidate, Rev. Dr. Mia Chang, and the region’s newest Associate Regional Pastor, Rev. Miriam Méndez, was praying the final prayer at the close of this year’s Annual Session, I heard a small voice at my side saying, “I want to get baptized, please”. I looked at the young woman standing next to me and my first thought was, “Sorry. We just ended the meeting and everyone is out of the baptismal tank. Besides, the hotel wants us to leave now so they can clean up and prepare for the next group”. She saw my look of hesitation and I thought she was reading my mind! She persisted, “But I would like to get baptized now”. Acts 22:16 came to mind: “And now what are you waiting for?”

I quickly shared this opportunity with Lee and asked Rev. Dr. Edgard Nicholas to speak with the young woman, who was a member of his congregation. They both agreed to do this one last baptism and Lee got back into the tank inviting the young woman to join him. Edgard stood next to the tank and prayed for her. As Lee lifted this young woman out of the water, her face was beaming. All the thirteen baptismal candidates had proclaimed Jesus as their Lord and Savior and had dedicated their lives to Him! We all got a glimpse of heaven that day in New Brunswick.



Testify! The Flyer


[lead]It's February, and the preparation for Annual Session is already under way! Mark your calendars now and get ready to register as soon as it becomes available.[/lead] Annual Session is a week earlier this year. Our pastors academy will be meeting [highlight]September 18[/highlight] and Annual Session will be held [highlight]September 19[/highlight].

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[label style="info" icon="clock-o"]Early Bird[/label] – $79

[label style="info" icon="calendar-o"]Pre-Registraton[/label] – $99

[label style="info" icon="book"]Registration & Walk-In[/label] – $109

[label style="info" icon="smile-o"]Children 6–12[/label] – $18

[label style="info" icon="smile-o"]Children 5 & Under[/label] – Free

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Click/Tap the image below to download this flyer in PDF format. AS2015 Testify Flyer [/column] [/raw]

ABCNJ Pastors, you have been summoned to testify!


[lead]ABCNJ summons our region’s clergy to help create a devotional book for 2016 which will be released at this year’s Annual Session! We are looking for clergy to submit one testimony (250 words maximum) focused on one of the 4 following journey themes:[/lead]

  • My Conversion Experience - “When or how did you first become aware that God was working in your life?”
  • My Baptism - “How did your baptism serve as a transformational moment in your life?”
  • My Call to Ministry - “How did God call you to ministry?”
  • An Encounter With God - “Describe a moment or story when you knew God was present or active in your life.”

Get involved! Submit your testimony by June 1, 2015! Send it to this dedicated address - You can submit your text in an email, or attach your word processing file to an email. [highlight]Please do not format your testimony, and do not send a pdf file[/highlight]. We will need your full name, your ministry position, and the name of your current church or organization. Testimonies will be edited for space and clarity. The final version will be sent to authors for approval prior to publication.

Miss Peg goes to New Brunswick – an Annual Session testimony


Peg is a much-loved resident of Riverview Estates and a part of the Central Baptist Church community in Palmyra, NJ. She attended Annual Session for the first time this year. Many persons have asked me where I went last Saturday, so I thought I would give a small glimpse of my day was like.

Early Saturday Morning I was picked up by a member of Central Baptist Church early. We left Riverview Esates around 6:45 AM and headed for New Brunswick, where the ABCNJ Annual Session was being held. I had no idea what to expect. I have attended conferences before but only small ones. I was told Annual Session was a big thing.

We arrived at the New Brunswick Hyatt-Regency hotel about two and a half hours after we left. “Wow!” is all I could say. People were everywhere! I couldn’t walk with out bumping in to someone. It seems to me I spent the morning saying, “Excuse me,” or, “I am sorry.”

Many tables were set up outside the hall, each displaying what different ministries had done this past year. If you are part of the ABCNJ family you can feel good about all we have done to promote justice, hunger-relief, disaster recovery, and “safe spaces” from abuse – physical, mental, and chemical. These tables showed how we are working all throughout the world!

The singing was wonderful. The Urban Promise choir gave me chills, especially “This Little Light Of Mine.” They were so poised on stage but were were also full giggles, smiles, and cheers.

The message which Impacted the most was about why kids join gangs but not churches. The speaker, Romal Tune, asked us what our churches offer kids. Differen people answered, “love”, “food”,“family”, “shelter”, “things to do”, “a sense of belonging.” Minister Tune told us gangs offer those things. They care for each other, offer food, love, a sense of belonging, family, shelter, and activities. So why do kids they chose gangs over churches?

The difference is the gangs are everywhere – on the basketball courts, on the corners, in front of stores, even at school. They are everywhere, but where are our churches? All the things that kids need are inside out buildings. Pastor Tune reminded us that our churches need to go out where the kids are.

That message is true, which makes me wonder, “How can we leave our pews and go outside our walls to where the kids are and bring them the Good News.” This is what I brought home from Annual Session, and I’m still thinking about it!

If you have a chance to come to this wonderful even next year, I think you should take it!

Annual Session is Coming!


The unofficial end of Summer has passed, and the region office is beginning it's final preparations for Annual Session 2014! This year we have a fantastic slate of speakers, wonderful music, a new format, and a buzzer.  If you want to know what the buzzer is for, you'll just have to register for the event!  Click on the gallery below for a few of this year's highlights. [gallery type="rectangular" ids="10052,10053,10054,10055,10056"]


Registration – 7:30 AM
Session begins – 8:30AM


Hyatt-Regency, Newsbrunswick
2 Albany St.
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

If you want even more information on Annual Session, please visit our Annual Session web-site. If you would like to register, just click or tap the button below and you'll be wisked away to our online registration page.

Register Now Button

ABCNJ Council Update: Celebration, Planning and Mission


The Council of the American Baptist Churches held its fall meeting at the Atrium in Red Bank on Saturday morning, November 9, 2013.  It was a memorable morning - and not just because of the awesome hospitality and breakfast provided by Springpoint Senior Living.  We celebrated God's blessings, planned for the future and focused on world-wide mission.


2013-11-09 ABCNJ Council at Atrium 3

The Council heard from Mr. Gary Puma, CEO of Springpoint, who shared the story of how the Atrium was saved and re-established as a first rate Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).  He presented two full color drawings of the original Navesink House to our Executive Minister and Senior Regional Pastor, Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer, as a symbol of the partnership we share.

The Council also celebrated the successful launching of the Cedars of Lebanon 2020 campaign, which has now surpassed the $183,000 mark!  And it voted to accept the application for full ABCNJ membership from NextGen Church, as it graduates from our New Church Development program.  Rev. Dr. Mia Chang is the Lead Pastor, and she now represents NCD on the Council.

Planning for the Future

Annual Session 2014 is just around the corner (!) - September 27, 2014.  The Council engaged in small group discussions concerning themes for presentations, which will be added to the ABCNJ Ministry Team's deliberations and given to the 2014 Annual Session Planning Committee.  It is going to be a fantastic Annual Session!

How does the region come alongside struggling churches?  Council approved a new policy statement which outlines how the Regional Ministry Team will partner with Council and our Associations to assist churches that have come to the end of their journey, that which to invite the region to re-start their ministry, or that request counsel regarding healthy ministry decisions.


2013-11-09 ABCNJ Council at Atrium 5

ABCNJ churches and members are ministering all around the globe!  This past summer, young adults from several of our Latino churches engaged in an Extreme Team mission trip to the Czech Republic.  Four members of the team shared with Council details of their mission experience.

Dr. Spitzer noted that two other young adults have just returned this week from Brazil, where they represented ABCNJ at a Baptist Youth Gathering that attracted 1000 people from all across that country.  Special thanks to IM missionaries Ann and Bruce Borquist, for guiding our representatives through the week!

The Council also approved responding to the disaster in the Philippines by creating a designated fund for Philippine Disaster Response (like we did for Katrina in 2005 and Haiti in 2010).  An appeal will go out to our churches.  ABCNJ has a special direct relationship with the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.



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.

The finishing touches


If you've ever been to Annual Session you have, no doubt, seen the amount of work which goes on to make it a successful event. Unless you've been in the office as Annual Session looms large on the horizon, however, you haven't been privy to all the work which goes on behinds the scenes to make Annual Session a success. Materials have to be created, printed, and collated. Registrations have to be finalized and credentials printed out. Last minute hiccups have to be addressed, participants have to be given their what/when/how assignments, and visuals have to be finalized. Somewhere along the way, both staff and volunteers need to remember to eat.

Filling the Annual Session packets with a smile

Today, the Tuesday before Annual Session, the frantic pace has hit fever-pitch. As the final materials emerge from the office printer they are being stacked, organized, and transported into the conference room. This morning, some lovely folks arrived at the office in order to transform our piles of stuff into the packets which will be handed to each attendee on Saturday. Throughout the morning they have smiled and laughed as they have worked through the nearly 700 packets they've been charged to fill. In this hectic atmosphere they are a wonderful breath of calm.

Whether you are able to attend Annual Session this Saturday or not, spend a moment to thank all the people who work in the background assembling our finishing touches – they bless us all more than we could possibly realize.

Also thanks to our other volunteers:

  • Malinda Medell, from FBC New Brunswick
  • Debora Mills, from FBC Brodentown
  • Maria Fe, attached to Rev. Elmo Familaran
  • Elizabeth McNeil, from Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton
  • Geneva Harris, from Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton
  • Shirley Young, from Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton
  • All the other wonderful people who arrived after the post went live



Images From 2012 ABCNJ Annual Session


If you were present at the 42nd Annual Session of ABCNJ held on September 28-29, 2012, you would have seen me (at times unglamorously!) clambering all over the place with a camera. Yes, one of my duties at the Annual Session was to be the "official" photographer! I regret not being more sociable, but my attention had to be focused on catching the significant moments in what has become a spiritually powerful, moving, inspiring and joyful Annual Session. And now we have a photographic record of it! I invite you to click on the link below, and it will lead you to my FLICKR account and to a set with the 209 photos that I took in the course of the two days. I hope that they will bring good memories for those who were there, and give a sense of what took place for those who were not able to attend. I'm giving permission for you to download a copy of any photo that interests you. I just would like to request that you give me attribution should you use the photo elsewhere. Feel free to leave a comment on a photo or photos that touch you in a special way. I would be happy to hear from you!


2012 Annual Session Photos

A view from the back of the room


From my vantage point in the back of the room I gain a unique perspective on the events of Annual Session, some of which I occasionally share with the group by way of the projection screens.  The process of putting Annual Session together is arduous, and most of those involved it it have little time to reflect and be amazed at what God did with our labor.  We're simply too busy making sure the event is unfolding at planned, or at least being side-tracked in a beneficial way.

This year, however, I was offered a moment where I became aware of just how amazing Annual Session really is.  I looked up from my screens, took a sip of my ever-present coffee, and saw a room completely maxed out to capacity.  I saw people in rapt attention to the proceedings.  I saw people chatting with friends and colleagues.  I saw people taking pictures of the people at their tables.  On the web I followed comments on Facebook and Twitter which highlighted the power of our time.  It was, truly, wall to wall Baptists - celebrating our shared mission.

Annual Session has become the event for ABCNJ.  It is a privilege to help put it together, and a joy to see how important it's become for the life of our region.

Technology, Reflection, and Encouragement


This past Sunday I allowed Central Baptist Palmyra to preview one of the videos which will be shown at Annual Session [1]. The video is a heart-felt, deep, and shows how ABCNJ is involved in the mission of the Gospel. The congregation thought the video was wonderful, especially the part about a giant fish [2], and I used the moment to highlight our relationship as a church within ABCNJ.

Following the video, I told the story of Elmo's sabbatical invitation to bring a team for "Christ Emphasis Week" in the Philippines – the end of which bore a question, "So, who do you think paid for that trip where so many people committed their lives to Jesus Christ?" The congregation looked around for a moment until someone hazarded the response, "I guess we do."

This response occasioned both an affirmation and a second question, "Right! And who do you think encouraged the regional staff to take such a bold step in response to Elmo's invitation?" This time the congregation had guessed what the correct answer was, they responded, "We do!"

Elated, I called back, "That's right! The regional team sees what churches, like ours, are doing in response to the Gospel – and they know if they're going to be able to help lead us in ministry then they need to be in ministry as well. The regional team saw our faith, and it strengthened their faith. The wonder of it is this, having seeing what our regional team is up to for the Gospel, aren't we encouraged? [3] Don't we want to echo the example they are showing us? What a wonderful cycle of ministry we get to be as part of ABCNJ!"

Now, I could have simply read off a bulletin insert or a form letter – but it wouldn't have been as effective. By showing a video, we got to see the team which went out in Jesus' name and with the regional's credentials, and catch a glimpse of the world-changing work we are part of. The video is, in fact, a powerful testimony to what a strong relationship between our churches can accomplish.

I encourage our churches, when you see a video or an article on our web-site, share it with people. Post the links to our youtube posts on FaceBook, your church sites, or use the in worship where you seem fit. If you would like a downloadable version of any video, please email me and I'll be happy to get you a link to one. Let's make use of the technology at our disposal so we may be reminded of what Christ is doing in our midst – and let our stories encourage us to even greater heights.


[1] It's well worth seeing on the 28th, if you miss it you'll have to wait until we put it on the web!

[2] You will never guess who played that role!

[3] The correct answer is, "Yes." Just in case you were wondering.


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: