Sunday, December 26, 2010

Born a Baptist, chose to be an American Baptist

By James M. Harrison

I find myself using this little brochure, "Proud to be an American Baptist," over and over. I use it as part of a new members packet; I use it in a visitor's packet, and whenever I have the occasion to share with someone expressing an interest in our church and community.
In Pastoral Ministry, I have taken advantage of many services offered through the denomination. I have used the American Baptist Extension Corporation's (ABEC) building consultation services. Both (the late) Mark Tracey and Benjamin Greene have been presenters to our congregation helping to organize a building expansion committee. We have also used (ABEC's) loan services to purchase property for our church.

As a pastor I have used ABC - Find a service to help congregants moving into a new community, locate an American Baptist congregation.

Following two floods and major hurricane I have distributed ABC mission funds directly to misplaced and needy families.

My congregants have been recipients of academic scholarships as undergraduates and as seminarians, who utilized the "Matching Grant Funds" where the seminarian, our church , and ABC contributed on third each towards a semester's costs.

We have taken advantage of training opportunities while participating in Regional  meetings across the South and in Area meetings of our Region. Membership in the denomination also has given  us opportunities to support AB International Missions efforts as well as National missions projects through the annual offerings. Through the denomination we have exposed the congregation to real-life missionaries on foreign fields.

Personally, I have received many leadership-training opportunities through my participation on area program boards, Region Board of Directors,and now the General Board for the denomination.

Many years ago I participated and used the Personnel Profile service, interviewing with churches in Portland, OR, New Jersey and California. I remain a member of the Christian Community Credit Union, formally the American Baptist Credit Union, taking advantage of many of their services, and the MMBB retirement program, formally the M&M board since 1988.

I was afforded an American Baptist Ordination through an Area Ministers Council in the Region of the South, with participants such as R. Allen Hailes, Grady W. Powell, Paul Nichols, and catechists, Henry H. and Ella P. Mitchell.

When I think about services, I think American Baptist. I'm glad I made the choice.