Fred Oaks, President, ABC WI Board of Managers
Last May on this page Rev. Dr. John Jones acknowledged how coping with the pandemic had disrupted our cherished routines. Then he suggested that the Holy Spirit might be stretching us toward something needed and new: “Just maybe the changes, skills, and habits that have been forced upon us will equip us for ministry in a new key…”
I grew up listening to pop music so I’m familiar with key changes. If you’re not, listen to Whitney Houston go up a key for the final chorus of “I Will Always Love You.” You can’t miss it!
Now the ABC WI Board of Managers is working with Dr. Jones to bring “ministry in a new key” to full expression in our region. Last fall we led the region in bidding a fond farewell to Rev. Dr. Marie Onwubuariri after six exemplary years of service as our Regional Executive Minister (REM). Then we called Dr. Jones, who had served for four years as Associate REM for Education, to serve as Interim REM. That decision reflects how much we value the focus and direction brought to ABC WI over the past six years. With Dr. Jones, the board will provide leadership to preserve and extend recent advances in multicultural ministry and innovative approaches to mission fulfillment. For us, ministry in a new key means:
Building Relationships across Difference. The Board is diverse by design. We have been learning the vital importance of relationships across difference – relationships marked by authenticity, trust, and mutuality. The lists of greetings in Paul’s letters remind me that diverse relationships of care and respect fueled his apostolic work. Without them we don’t have multicultural ministry, we simply have multicultural ideas.
Considering Fresh Approaches to Mission Fulfillment. “Every organization is now a start-up,” says Andy Crouch, Praxis Labs’ partner for theology and culture. We have a 176-year heritage. Our mission is as urgent as ever, and it still has eternal significance. But old assumptions about how we pursue our mission have been stripped away. David didn’t need or want Saul’s armor (1 Sam 17:39), but with God’s help he got the job done. He also became a gifted composer: “Sing to the Lord a new song!” (Ps. 149:1) Do you hear the key? change?