We have experienced a lot of transition in the life of ABCWI in a short amount of time. In February, we were saddened by the sudden loss of Rev. Karen Sundland, a gifted pastor and leader. She was serving as the vice president of the Board of Managers at the time of her passing. We have grieved her loss as a leader and friend, and will continue to remember her, lift up her beloved fiancé Rev. Eric Lundquist in our prayers, and celebrate her life on April 22, 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church of West Allis.
One month after Karen’s death, we received the news that Rev. Brandle Morrow had accepted a new position at First Baptist Church Jeffersontown in Louisville, Kentucky, beginning May 1st. We celebrate his call to ministry that has been clarified and extended beyond Wisconsin, and at the same time we will miss his leadership and energy as our Board of Managers president and as senior pastor of Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church.
Fortunately, within just a few days, one of our at-large board members, Rev. Kenneth Cutler of Greater Mt. Zion, agreed to fulfill the remainder of Rev. Morrow’s term through October 2023. K. Shani Smith, of Greater Galilee, agreed to step into the role of vice president. We are grateful for their willingness and enthusiasm to step up and serve. Our Nominating Committee will convene after Easter to fill their at-large positions on the Board of Managers.
Along with this transition in leadership, our Board of Managers has been hard at work seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit in envisioning who God is calling our region to be and what God is calling us to do in this new season. The region faces different challenges and opportunities than it did in 2017, when the previous Vision Statement, supporting statements and commentary were written, with the phrase “Together Living Faithfully Through Christ Today.” We have been through a regional executive minister transition and the Covid-19 pandemic. Our churches face different circumstances, and it is important for our regional work to reflect the transitions in our churches in order to be a relevant witness of Christ and to resource our congregations. While that statement has carried us through, we recognize that God is always doing something new.
We convened a Board Retreat at First Baptist Church of Madison, as well as online, January 27th and 28th of this year. Each board member was invited to bring a list of ten value words to share with the board. Through a process of asking questions, clarifying definitions, and some fun-filled conversations, we narrowed down our value list to five words that describe the ministry of ABCWI: collaboration, transformation, justice, integrity, and resilience. With those words, we crafted, discerned, and approved via consensus our new Vision statement.
The Vision and Purpose of the ABCWI Regional Office is:
To engage with churches, ministers, and ministries in collaborative and transformative work with our local and global communities by modeling integrity, pursuing justice, and fostering resilience while affirming the sacred worth of each person as beloved in Christ and by His church.
“For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.” Romans 12:4-5, NRSV.
The accompanying summary statements and supporting commentary is still a work in process with our Board of Managers and will continue at our August board meeting. You can see the current work and previous work of the Board of Managers here: https://www.abcofwi.org/mission-vision/.
As we approach our Annual Gathering October 13-15 at Green Lake Conference Center, with our focus on Next Generation Ministries, we are excited to share that work and vision with you all as we move into the next generation of the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin.
Be sure to save those dates! Our theme for the Annual Gathering is “God’s Dominion is From Generation to Generation (Daniel 4:3 KJV). Check out the proposed schedule, fees, speakers, and more here: https://www.abcofwi.org/annual-gatherings/
Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell