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The Collective Conscience of our Country: A Pastoral Letter from ABCUSA General Secretary Lee Spitzer

Read a pastoral letter from General Secretary Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer, published August 5, 2019, below. If you would like download a printable copy, please click here.

“The Collective Conscience of our Country”
A Pastoral Update from the General Secretary
August 5, 2019

Dear ABCUSA Family,

TWENTY dead, 26 wounded.
NINE dead, 27 wounded.

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), I find myself once again writing to our churches and leaders in reaction to horrific mass shootings. El Paso, Texas. Dayton, Ohio. In just a few minutes of violence, 29 people lost their lives, and 53 others were injured.

Like Virginia Beach (where we met in June) and many other cities before this weekend, these mass shootings continue to challenge the collective conscience of our country. These outbreaks of evil are not normal, and must not become normative. Communities in every geographical sector of our country have been victimized. As a spiritual family dedicated to serving as witnesses to the peaceable kingdom of Jesus, we must not become numb to the pain of people who have suffered loss, be tempted to rationalize away the hate, racism and prejudice behind most of these attacks, or give in to a despair which prevents us from embracing solutions to the underlying challenges symbolized by these events.

We need to speak out in Jesus’ name. In June, 78 ABC national leaders, regional executive ministers and I expressed our collective solidarity with the people of Virginia Beach in a public letter published in the leading local newspaper, as approximately 1,400 American Baptists gathered in that city for the 2019 Biennial Mission Summit.

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Rev. Dr. Morris W. Lee Sr. Transitions to His Heavenly Home


Rev. Dr. Morris W. Lee Sr., 83 made a transition to his heavenly home Friday, July 26, 2019, surrounded by his family.

The Rev. Dr. Morris W. Lee was born Oct. 19, 1935, in Isle of Wight County, Va., son of Peter H. and Nannie Crocker Lee, and was reared in Portsmouth, Va., where he attended the public schools.

He attended Virginia Union University in Richmond, Va., receiving an A.B. degree in History. He then attended the Graduate School of Religion for three years and finished Cum Laude with a Master of Divinity degree.

Rev. Dr. Lee served from 1957 to 1960 as minister of the Jerusalem Baptist Church of Doswell, Va. In September of 1960, he was called to pastorate of the Third Baptist Church of Youngstown, succeeding the late Dr. S.S. Booker, where he was currently still serving as Pastor up until his death.

Dr. Lee has participated in many activities of civic, community and ecclesiastical nature in the Youngstown area as well as in a large arena. He had served as a member of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, of the Home Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention, the Executive Board of the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention, the Board of Trustees of the American Churches of Ohio and the Ohio Council of Churches. 

He has been moderator of the Northern Ohio Baptist District Association, Director of Music for the Ohio General Baptist Convention, chairman of the Trumbull Baptist Neighborhood Ministries Committee, president of the Youngstown Ministerial Association and president of the Mahoning Valley Council of Churches.

Dr. Lee taught for several years in the Youngstown Extension of American Baptist Theological Seminary of Nashville, Tenn., in the Black Studies Program of Youngstown State University. He received an Doctor of Divinity degree from Virginia Union University. He completed course requirements toward a Doctorate in Ministry from Ashland University.

Dr. Lee married the love of his life, the former Beverly A. Chambliss, on June 11, 1966, and from their union they had two children, Morris W. Lee Jr. and Miriam M. Lee, both of Youngstown; one grandchild, JoLisa Collier-Lee; and a special granddaughter, Chelsea Anderson; two godsons, Michael (Cordella) Torbert of Mechanicsville, Md., and Craig McDowell of Syracuse, N.Y.; two special friends that were like siblings, Geneva Mason and Howard Pincham; along with a host of close cousins, friends all across the community, his beloved Third Baptist Church family; and his beloved cat, Zuri.

We lift up the Morris family in our prayers during this time.

New Salem Baptist Church Ordains Four Ministers


Congratulations to the New Salem Baptist Church in Columbus. New Salem ordained four of their ministers on Sunday, June 30, 2019 following a day-long Ordination Council of Columbus Baptist Association churches. We celebrate the newly ordained ministers Landon Adams, Monica Lowe, TaNikka Sheppard and Merlyn Ruffin. Each candidate passed their examination and we celebrate all that God has done! Dr. Keith Troy is Pastor of New Salem Baptist Church. Dr. Otha Gilyard chairs the Columbus Baptist Association's Pastoral Relations Committee. Rev. Cyrus Broughton is Association President.

Rev. Dr. Samuel Young Goes to be with the Lord

Rev. Dr. Samuel L. Young, 81, of Millbury, Ohio passed away on Thursday, March 28, 2019. He was born on June 17, 1937 in Los Angeles, California to Charles and Juanita Young.  Sam served two enlistments in the U.S. Army, one in Germany and also one with the 82nd Airborne based out of Fort Bragg, NC. Besides playing piano in the Airborne band, he played bag pipes and enjoyed listening to classical and jazz music.

Sam loved to spread the word of God and worked in church ministry his whole life. He was ordained as a minister in 1968 and served at various churches in Ohio, Kansas and even in Germany.His ministry led him to work as a Sheriff’s Chaplain and with Drug and Alcohol Education Services. 

Sam is survived by his loving wife of 15 years, Ruth Visser-Young; children, Allison (Greg) Pfister, Kyrstyn Young, Rachael (Lou) Solone, Matthew (Katy) Simons and Aaron (Chrissy) Simons; grandchildren, Hunter, Abigail, Gabriella, Jeremiah, Jackson and Evelyn; brothers, Leonard Casas and Charles Young and many nieces and nephews. Please pray for Rev. Young's family during this time.