By now, you have certainly heard about our 179th Annual Gathering on October 13-15, 2023 at Green Lake Conference Center. Our theme is “God’s Dominion is from Generation to Generation” (Daniel 4:3 KJV) with our focus on Next Generation Ministries. For far too long, the church universal has neglected to raise up the next generation of leaders. Our Annual Gathering is ABCWI’s response to lift up the next generation in worship, fellowship, and in our variety of workshops. You can find more information here (including information on scholarships!) and a detailed schedule for the workshops here.
And while our focus is on youth (ages 13-17) and young adults (ages 18-30), we recognize that the majority of people in our churches are not of those age groups. You may be wondering “what is in it for me?” when looking at the schedule. I invite you to consider that God may be calling you to a “next generation” of ministry in your life. Perhaps you’re not called to pastoral ministry or chaplaincy or global service, but would it be wonderful to know more about what it means to be a global servant in the mission field today? It might be a way you can help your congregation understand why we support our global servants through International Ministries. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know about campus ministry today and how we can support young adults in their faith formation? There are also workshops on including children, youth, and young adults in worship, as well as including people with disabilities in church. Come learn about creation care, pathways to God, and how Christian Education and faith formation is changing in our churches today. Every workshop is for every age, and we encourage you to attend.
While we are at Green Lake, the historic conference center of American Baptists, take some time to ponder what God is generating in your life. What has been passed down to you that you wish to have go on to the next generation? What is God stirring up in your life now that is new? What is God calling you to do or become? Who does God need you to be in your community, in your church, in your workplace?
We know that society is constantly changing at a rapid pace. The church itself went through twenty years of change in two during the pandemic. We also know that many churches are experiencing decline in numbers and giving. It becomes far too easy to focus on individual survival. The important thing to remember is that this is nothing new. The people of Israel were taken into exile, and many of the Israelites assimilated into the new land and culture they were in, but a remnant remembered who they were. They had to adapt and change in order to keep their faith and hope alive. In the early days of the church, following Jesus’s death and resurrection, Acts 1:15 tells us that the believers numbered 120 persons. What happened to the thousands that Jesus fed, the thousands that heard His word and experienced miracles and received good news? We don’t know. But we do know that in trusting in the Holy Spirit, God does something new, especially in times of rapid change. The short version of this is never count God out. Never count us out. God will do something new—God is doing something new, right now!
Please do invite the younger members of your congregations to attend—we are excited to have a Seminary and Ministry Fair that will help younger adults and youth explore various calls to ministry. But we hope this also will stir something in you, for God’s Dominion is from Generation to Generation.
Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell
*Please note the deadline for registration is Wednesday, September 27th. This is a HARD deadline for in-person registration so we can get our numbers to Green Lake Conference Center. There is an online option for those unable to attend in-person.