First American Baptist "NEW LIFE 2010 Church" Named

Jan 24, 2003 12:19 PM EST

Valley Forge, Pa. -- Central Baptist Church, an American Baptist Churches USA congregation in Providence, R.I., has been designated a "NEW LIFE 2010 Church" by National Ministries. Central Baptist Church is the first congregation to receive this designation in a recognition program recently implemented by National Ministries.

To achieve the "NEW LIFE 2010 Church" designation a congregation must be actively pursuing at least one of the initiative's goals and making significant progress toward its achievement.

For example, a few activities that would meet the requirement in each of the initiative's goals for designation as a "NEW LIFE 2010 Church" include: participating in the Alpha program (Evangelism); increasing church membership by baptism by at least 15 percent (Evangelism); supporting a new church financially (New Church Planting); serving as a mother church for a new congregation (New Church Planting); at least 10 percent of membership participating in a Habitat for Humanity project (Caring Ministries); adding a paid or volunteer community ministries staff member; participating in the Small Church Pilot project or other National Ministries projects (Congregational Transformation).

At Central Baptist the 176-member congregation undertook a yearlong self-study that resulted in a "Transforming Our Future" initiative. Through that initiative the congregation developed plans to work toward transformation and outreach by studying the demographics of the community; changing the church name; adopting a new mission statement; approving a new member's commitment statement; and revising the church bylaws.

The Rev. Dr. Evan Howard, pastor of Central Baptist, said his congregation is proud to have had a part in National Ministries' development of the "NEW LIFE 2010" church program. The designation will be "a boost to our morale as we continue the arduous task of mission in the challenging New England (and urban Providence) environment," Howard said.

NEW LIFE 2010 National Movement Director the Rev. Carol Sutton says the designation was developed to encourage congregations and "to make people hopeful about what may happen in their own churches." NEW LIFE 2010 is not about American Baptist Churches at the national level, but rather about what is happening in each and every church across the country. "NEW LIFE 2010 is the whole picture," Sutton said, "and we want to recognize and hold up what God is doing in our churches."

Congregations may request the "NEW LIFE 2010 Church" designation by contacting Sutton. Requests should include a statement from the pastor, church clerk or other congregational official that describes the steps taken toward fulfillment of the initiative's goals.

NEW LIFE 2010 is a vision set forth in 1998 for American Baptists to reach 1,000,010 new disciples, plant 1,010 new churches, and vitalize a multitude of caring ministries-and so transform American Baptist congregations by the year 2010.

By Susan Gottshall