The ABCNJ Annual Session 2014 continued to raise the bar for Regional fellowship, training and worship. The two minute sermons, give or take a few minutes, were certainly one of my highlights as it helped focus us on the messages. The countdown clocks on the screen had its level of humor for sure but I found myself intensely focused on what the preachers were saying. It reminded me of just how many times in life we are distracted by the environs of time and if we are going to catch the message from God or God’s servants, we have to focus and keep focused and not be distracted by the flashing of signs, the clicking of the clocks, the cell phone disruptions that often enter into the picture. When I am asked to be at the pulpit I know how quickly the worship “hour” comes and goes. Yet, I am also reminded of the Word that has come down in dynamic and powerful ways, still wrapped in simple phrases we all remember. “For God so loved the world…”, “Our Father…”, “You are forgiven…”, or “Be still and know…”. “Sinner saved by grace!” “They’ll know you are Christian’s by our love.” From my vantage point, I again was thrilled by the keynote messages that always drive home our American Baptist missional aspects and challenges facing us as disciples of Jesus Christ our Lord! Missions is truly a core element in our churches ministries. The fact that we received seven new congregations from Florida, all who asked to fellowship with us, affirms our regions multi-cultural and ethnic diverse to everyone at our Annual Gatherings. It now is part of our DNA and reveals the kingdom table which is to come.
I also express my deep appreciation for the opportunity to be part of ABCNJ’s ministry over the past ten years as Associate Regional Pastor and one of the staff working under the fine leadership of Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer. I have experienced a great deal working with pastors, officers, teachers, and those whose lives are being touched by God in and through the ministries of our American Baptist Churches of New Jersey and Beyond. The fruit of the Spirit was seen in the songs shared by the Urban Promise Children’s Choir as those familiar words rang out “This little light of mine, I’m going to make it shine….” Their voices spoke to me of a new generation of hope, dreams, and possibilities for those living in the heart of the City of Camden. “Let the children come unto me!” Jesus said.