In light of this very unusual and challenging year of COVID-19, we have had several conversations about how the Gathering would look this year. Our ABC Ohio Board of Regional Ministries met to discuss the concern of bringing 175 people, many of them in the at-risk category, together for a two-day event. In light of the risks to participants, the Board and Staff came to the conclusion that this year’s event will be different than past Annual Gatherings.
The 2020 ABC Ohio Annual Gathering will take place on Tuesday, October 6 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel North in Columbus, the same location as past years. We will meet at 1 PM with Dr. C. Jeff Woods, Acting General Secretary of the American Baptist Churches USA as our keynote speaker. Pastor Benjamin Payne and the praise team of the First Baptist Church of Seville will be our worship leaders. The afternoon will include a brief business meeting, which is required by our region’s constitution. We anticipate that the event will conclude by 4:30 PM. Because of the high risk of banquet-style meals, there will be no meal functions.
We know that some of you will enjoy participating in the Gathering in person. We will practice social distancing in our room arrangement and program. Masks will be required for all who attend. The hotel has assured us that they will take an abundance of precautions to meet safety standards while we are there.
We also know that many of you will want to be part of the day, but will not want to participate in person. We urge those who are ill, at risk, or have a desire to be cautious, to stay at home and participate with us electronically. The event will be live-streamed, so you will be able to be part of the afternoon in real time. More information about the live-streaming will be made available closer to the time of the event.
There will be no charge for this year’s Annual Gathering, but advanced registration will be required. In about a month, we will send registration information so that your church may register delegates and guests. This will assure that we are adequately prepared for the business meeting and for set-up at the hotel.
We are looking forward to 2021 as we anticipate being together for a more complete Annual Gathering next year. You and your congregations remain in our prayers as we continue to navigate the challenges of COVID.
Planning is well underway for the American Baptist Churches USA 2021 Biennial Mission Summit to be held June 25-27, 2021, at the San Juan Convention Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In a new video, Interim General Secretary Dr. C. Jeff Woods introduces and gives an update on planning for the event. We encourage you to watch the full video to learn more about the 2021 Biennial Mission Summit.
The American Baptist Churches of Ohio extends Christian Sympathy to the family of Sophia Stephenson, who passed away on July 24, and to the First Baptist Church of Delaware. Mrs. Stephenson was the wife of the late Dr. James “Steve” Stephenson, who served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Delaware from 1947 to 1987. A memorial service is planned for a later date, and an obituary is not yet available, but the family would like to share this sad news with the ABC Ohio community. Please join in prayers for the Stephenson family.
Rev. Edward G. Brutto, age 77, of Sebring passed away Sunday July 12 at Crandall Medical Center in Sebring. Rev. Brutto pastored for ten years at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Bloomingdale.
He was born September 28, 1942 in Canton, to Elmer and Ardena (Heinbauch) Brutto. A 1960 graduate of Sebring High School he went on to attend Kent State University. Edward was a veteran of the US Army Reserves who went to compete on the first Army Pistol Team in which they placed 8th in the world. He worked in telecommunications, working for several companies across Ohio such as Ohio Bell Ameritech, SBC, and AT&T before his retirement. Edward was a 52 year member of Alliance First Baptist Church.
He was involved in many organizations including American Baptist Churches of Ohio, President of Telephone Pioneers of America of Youngstown, as well as being a lifetime member of the NRA. He enjoyed fishing and hunting, as well as being a chef who enjoyed delighting others with his talent for cooking and catering.
Those left to cherish his memory are his daughter, Danielle (Ray Dyer) Brutto; son Timothy E. (Deana) Brutto; granddaughters, Rachel and Monica Brutto.
He is preceded in death by his parents; wife, Linda K. Brutto whom he married September 3, 1966 and who passed away June 12, 2010
Memorial contributions can be made in Edward’s name to Alliance First Baptist Church 1659 W. State St Alliance, Ohio 44601 or Heart Reach Ministries of Youngstown 211 Redondo Rd, Youngstown, OH 44504.
Please keep the Brutto family in your prayers.
Congratulations to the 2019 Graduates of the American Baptist Churches of Ohio Leadership Academy!
(Back Row 2019 Faculty) Tim Mohon, Dan Bellavia, Dennis Shultz, Sandra Quick, David Hansen, David Brown, Seth Fallon, Jane Gibbons
VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 5/29/20)—On May 29, 2020, Interim General Secretary Dr. C. Jeff Woods published a letter to American Baptists with a message centered around justice and more specifically, racial justice. Read the letter below.
Dear American Baptists,
The death of George Floyd has caused widespread pain, rage, protests, and violence in Minneapolis and across the United States. I appreciate the input received from officers of the Regional Executive Ministers Council, members of the National Executive Council, and others in constructing a response to this event. While American Baptists have never advocated violence, we grieve with those feeling the pent-up pain from years of racial discrimination and injustice. The horrifying video captured at the corner of Chicago Avenue and 38th Street in Minneapolis has released years of frustration that can never be fully understood by those who have not consistently lived with injustice historically and presently.
Acts of current racial injustice as well as the effects of historic racial injustices have been brought into the light in recent weeks as we recognize that African-Americans have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. In a recent study, the Centers for Disease Control found that 45% of individuals for whom race or ethnicity data was available were white, compared to 55% of individuals in the surrounding community and that 33% of hospitalized patients were black compared to 18% in the community. Unequal access to healthcare, jobs, education, and training have all been influenced by the racialized society in which we continue to live.
Unfortunately, acts of violence have been cast upon many ethnically distinct groups within our congregations and among our international partners. Many Chinese as well as Asian-Americans are being targeted, harassed, and even physically attacked because of comments made about COVID-19. In Malaysia, we are hearing reports of the government using information collected from the treatment of persons affected by COVID-19 for deportation despite earlier statements that no one who sought medical services for the coronavirus would be arrested based on their immigration status.
Racism and Xenophobia have deep roots in American history and culture and wrongs cannot be righted overnight. While expeditious action is critical to the pursuit of justice for George Floyd, dialogue, conversation, systemic change, and continued acts of justice to curb the sources of prejudice and discrimination are needed.
In these tense times of ache and agony and stinging memories of bias and wrongdoing, we are called again to combat racism and resist violence. American Baptists have historically advocated against both violence as well as racial injustice. “Our denominational history is rich with resistance against violence. From Roger Williams speaking in defense of First Nations People, to the Abolitionists, down to Walter Rauschenbusch, and Martin Luther King, American Baptists in particular have been on the forefront for the cessation of violence and the coming of Shalom.” (American Baptist Case Statement on Violence from the 2015 Mission Table). I am calling on people of faith to find the resources of the Spirit to calm their anger. “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3, NASV)
Our denominational history is also rich in working toward justice in general and racial justice in particular. “Racial justice,” as defined in our 1989 ABCUSA policy statement, “is recognizing our oneness in Christ, confessing that we have not become what God wants us to be, and committing ourselves to pressing on to that mark of high calling by which we can become a liberating symbol to our nation and world of what it means to be the people of God. In so doing, we can challenge our nation to live up to its high purposes.”
“Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16, NASV) I charge our American Baptist family to continue to search, advocate, and live where the good way lies.
Dr. C. Jeff Woods
Interim General Secretary
American Baptist Churches USA