Valley Forge, Pa. -- The ABC Discipleship Task Force, formed in response to a need articulated by the Board of Educational Ministries at its November 2002 meeting, is set to begin its work.
The Board of Educational Ministries had called upon the General Board in November "...to instruct the ABC President in consultation with the General Secretary to appoint a task force to recommend to the General Board specific steps by June 2003 to secure the denomination's education mandate and its commitment to making disciples. This shall include, but not be limited to, the allocation of United Mission funds for this purpose. The future of Judson Press Books shall be a part of this process."
Educational Ministries' action was motivated by several concerns: the future of Judson Press book publishing, implementation of its Strategic Mission Plan within the resources Educational Ministries will receive through the proposed new budget covenant, and determining the best way to support American Baptist congregations in making disciples if Educational Ministries is not deemed viable as a separate agency.
In fall 2001 Educational Ministries began an extensive effort to develop the Strategic Mission Plan. The three-phased process involved a working group including denominational officers, board members, regional executive ministers, staff and consultants. The result was the adoption by the Board of Educational Ministries of the Strategic Ministries Plan "Discipleship Matters" in June 2002. At its meeting in November 2002 the Board of Educational Ministries, following extensive discussions, voted to postpone the election of a new executive director and to recommend to the General Board the formation of the task force.
Dr. Robert Shaw, of Overland Park, Kans., and former executive minister of American Baptist Churches of Michigan, will chair the ABC Discipleship Task Force. Other members include: Dr. William D. Apel, former president of the Board of Educational Ministries and a faculty member at American Baptist-related Linfield College, McMinnville, Ore.; Dr. Thomas E. Clifton, Board of Educational Ministries member and president of American Baptist-related Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Kans.; the Rev. H. Jay Flu-Allen, Board of Educational Ministries president and pastor of New Salem Baptist Church, Columbus, Ohio; Dr. Bernadette Glover-Williams, General Board chaplain and assistant pastor of The Cathedral Second Baptist Church, Perth Amboy, N.J.; Dr. Arlee Griffin, former General Board member and pastor of Berean Missionary Baptist Church, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Dr. Mary A. Hulst,, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Denver, Colo.; Mr. David G. Hunt, American Baptist Churches USA president, Milwaukie, Ore.; the Rev. Susan Maybeck, president of the Board of National Ministries and a retired pastor, Pittsford, N.Y.; Dr. Osvaldo Mottesi, faculty member at American Baptist-related Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lombard, Ill.; the Rev. Dr. Donald T-M Ng, former Educational Ministries staff and pastor of First Chinese Baptist Church, San Francisco, Calif.; and Dr. Michael A. Williams, executive minister of American Baptist Churches of Michigan, East Lansing, Mich.
The task force will hold its first meeting Feb. 6-7 at the American Baptist Churches Mission Center here.
In a letter to task force members, American Baptist Churches USA General Secretary the Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, noted that the work to be done "requires that we ask 'How does the national structure of American Baptist Churches best help our local congregations accomplish this task?' Our charge is to be at our most creative, to not rush just to fix things, but to ask 'How do we best achieve EM's historic mission of making disciples.'"
By Albert H. Lee