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.



ABCNJ Council Endorses 3 New Regional Initiatives



The ABCNJ Council endorsed three new regional initiatives at its first meeting of 2013 on Saturday, January 26.  The Council:

  • Endorsed the region's Sacred Safe Spaces ministry, which addresses the need for our congregations to serve as safe spaces for women, children and others who have suffered physical, sexual and other forms of abuse.  Rev. Tamara Davis has been called to serve as Coordinator for this initiative.  Churches will receive a full announcement later this week.
  • Approved a resolution from the Public Mission Committee on Human Trafficking.  This resolution will be published on and sent by mail to all of our churches.
  • Agreed that ABCNJ should move ahead with plans to create a Disaster Relief ministry team, in coordination with the DC Baptist Convention (which ha strong ties to FEMA) and the American Baptist Home Mission Societies.  We have learned a great deal from the Hurricane Sandy experience, which will help both the region and its churches prepare for another future state-wide calamity.

2013-01-26 ABCNJ Council 1The Council also welcomed Rev. Erin Phillips as the newest half-time member of the ABCNJ Regional Ministry Team, approved the final working 2013 regional budget, and approved several special loans to churches.  We heard glowing reports about Fresh Expressions 2013, in which some 30 ABCNJ members are involved, Fanning the Flame 2013 (our next Pastors Conference, hosted with ABCOPAD), and the recently concluded Philippines Mission trip conducted by Drs. Spitzer and Familiaran.  They spoke to 700 Philippine Baptist Ministers and helped kick off this semesters Christ Emphasis Week at Central Philippine University.  Baptist camp Lebanon Director, Don Smith, shared that there will be an alumni weekend in May and announced an exciting new camp beautification and fundraising project - a brick walkway.

Special thanks to Rev. Curtis Haynes and the members of Second Baptist Church in Moorestown for hosting us in such a gracious and hospitable manner!


Great News! - ABCNJ Council Update


The first 2012 meeting of the new ABCNJ Council met at Oaklyn Baptist Church on Saturday, January 28.  Rev. Eric Hoheisel welcomed us as host pastor and stayed to participate in the meeting.  Highlights of the meeting included: 1.  Approval of the 2012 ABCNJ final working budget.  The Council also praised God for the 2011 preliminary budget report, which showed that the region ended 2011 with an operating budget surplus of $23,000.  United Mission was up 8.5% from 2010 and exceeded the budget goal by $10,000!  The ABCNJ Region Offering reached the $70,000 mark, up by about $15,000 from 2010, and America for Christ was also up.  Thanks to all ABCNJ churches and individual donors for supporting our ministry!

  1.  Review of and discussion about the 2011 Ministry Team report, which details how the regional ministry team serves our churches and pastors.  The council also reviewed a summary chart of the team's activity from 2003-2011.

  2.  Discussion in small groups about who to appoint for the 3 Transformed by the Spirit Adaptive Change Task Forces, which will focus on the following questions:

  • Bridging Generational Gaps: What kind of congregational and regional transformation will be necessary for our churches to bridge generational gaps and reach younger adults and youth more effectively?
  • Evangelism as a Way of Life: How can our members and churches embrace evangelism (and church growth) as a way of life, so that our witness flows more naturally from our discipleship journeys?
  • ABC Identity: How should we address the "identity crisis" we face as American Baptists, in which pastors and lay members seem disconnected from associational and denominational life (except when they need services or support from us)?
  1.  Approval of Dr. Elmo Familiaran's 2012-2013 sabbatical plan.