News from American Baptist Churches USA that might be of interest to ABC Ohio.
Rev. Dr. John A. Sundquist, who served as Executive Director of American Baptist International Ministries (IM) from 1989 until 2003, entered fully into the presence of his Lord on Sunday, February 21, from his beloved home at Bethany Beach (in Sawyer, Michigan), at the age of 84. International Ministries joins with his family, friends, disciples, and colleagues all around the globe in giving thanks to God for his life of dedicated service to the cause of Christ.
Rev. Dr. Daniel E. Weiss, who served as General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA from 1988 to 2000, died on Saturday, August 22. Prior to serving as General Secretary, Dr. Weiss was Executive Director of the American Baptist Churches USA Board of Educational Ministries from 1983-1988, and previously served as president of American Baptist-related schools, Eastern College in St. Davids, Pa., and Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, from 1973-1981.
During his tenure as General Secretary, Weiss emphasized a need for members and organizations within the denomination to understand, appreciate and live out the foundational understandings American Baptists long have espoused. He lifted up the call to commitment to Jesus Christ as God’s gift of salvation, and to evangelism and mission undertaken in Jesus’ name; the affirmation of the local church as the fundamental unit of denominational mission; the need for unwavering support of religious and other freedoms; and the importance of understanding, respect and dialog within the diverse American Baptist family.
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
International Ministries is sad to announce the passing of Rev. Orville R. Chapman on January 2, 2020. Rev. Chapman and his wife, Virginia (Becker) Chapman, were IM missionaries for almost four decades in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire).
Commissioned in 1955, the Chapmans began their ministry in Sona Bata, training pastors in rural villages and teaching science and theology at the local secondary school. In 1960, due to political turmoil, the Chapmans were evacuated. They returned to Sona Bata in 1961. In 1963, they spent three months by the Angolan border working with refugees. In subsequent terms of service, they lived in Moanza, Kinshasa, and Kikongo where they did administrative work and taught theology at the ISTK (Institute of Theology in Kinshasa) and also at the Kikongo Pastors’ School (now the Baptist University of Kikongo/UNIBAC).
Rev. Chapman received his B.A. from Ottawa University (Ottawa, Kansas), his B.D. from the Berkeley Baptist Divinity School (Berkeley, CA.), and his D. Min from the American Baptist Seminary of the West. He once described his passion for life-long ministry with the Congolese as “an opportunity to help bring about a more abundant life” to people in rural village areas.
Glen Chapman, the oldest of Rev. Orville and Virginia’s four children, carries on the legacy of his parents’ missionary service. He and his wife, Rita (Brown) Chapman, are also long-term missionaries with International Ministries and have served in the DR Congo since 1987.
Please keep the Chapman family in your prayers.
In response to the 6.4-magnitude earthquake that shook Puerto Rico January 7, 2020 American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), on behalf of American Baptist Churches USA, has released $15,000 in One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) funds to partners in Puerto Rico, including $10,000 for Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico. However, additional help is needed.
What You and Your Church Can Do
Pray, pray, pray! Pray for our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico daily at 20:20 hours. Part of the concern is that the lack of electricity, water and gasoline will trigger widespread panic in addition to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder initiated by Hurricane Maria.
Donations can be made online designated to “OGHS-Puerto Rico Earthquake” or via your church or check with the same designation and mailed to the attention of Leda Carter at American Baptist Home Mission Societies, 1075 First Ave., King of Prussia, PA 19406.
One hundred percent of donations go to relief efforts; no dollars are retained for administrative costs. To ensure that your church receives credit for your gift, write the church name on your check.
National personnel have been in touch with key partners in Puerto Rico, including the Rev. Edgardo Caraballo, executive minister of Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico. The island found itself without electricity immediately following the earthquake. The southwestern area continues without electricity and water. Long lines have formed at gasoline stations, which are running out of gasoline.
Primera Iglesia Bautista de Yauco received significant damage, according to Caraballo. Two pastors had to evacuate their homes, which were deemed unsafe. Damage assessment will continue on the island. Primera Iglesia Bautista de Guayanilla, according to its pastor, Carlos A. Padilla, has become a shelter for the community; more than 60 individuals are eating and living at the church’s facilities.
In Guánica, 28 homes were destroyed, 99 received damage and 21 are near collapse, according to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, which happened to be on the island at the time of the earthquake. In addition, two schools have been destroyed and one received damage. Two public buildings in Guánica have been decimated and another is close to collapse, while one bridge and one road received damage. Thirteen shelters, according to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, are housing 746 individuals and are in great need of supplies. More details and updates can be found at abc-usa.org.