Alliance of Baptists considers revisioning
January 18 2002 by Sue Harper Poss , Associated Baptist Press

Alliance of Baptists considers revisioning | Friday, Jan. 18, 2002

Friday, Jan. 18, 2002

Alliance of Baptists considers revisioning

By Sue Harper Poss Associated Baptist Press OAKLAND, Calif. - As it prepares to celebrate its 15th anniversary convocation in April, the Alliance of Baptists has formed a task force to reassess its role in Baptist life. The Alliance recently co-sponsored a one-day mini-convocation in Oakland, Calif., with the Pacific Coast Baptist Association, an association of American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.

The meeting, rescheduled from last fall because of travel difficulties following Sept. 11, included morning and afternoon worship services, a town hall meeting at which the effects of Sept. 11 were discussed, and several workshops including one on conflict resolution and another on Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations.

A small organization numbering 105 churches, the Alliance's strength has been its ability to make connections, said Executive Director Stan Hastey. Those denominational connections include international partnerships in Cuba, Zimbabwe, and Canada. In the United States, the Alliance works closely with the United Church of Christ, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In 2000, the Alliance was accepted as a member of the National Council of the Churches of Christ, and it maintains a relationship with the Institute of Christian and Jewish Studies.

Prior to the convocation, the Alliance board of directors discussed a process for looking anew at the organization's role.

"We are at a point where the challenges we face strongly suggest an organizational reassessment," said immediate-past president Welton Gaddy of Washington. "The niche that we filled 15 years ago is now much larger and has much more potential for ministry than we are equipped for."

Gaddy's comments sparked lengthy conversation about what the role of the Alliance should be, and prompted current president Paula Clayton Dempsey, chaplain at Mars Hill College in North Carolina, to appoint a four-member task group to bring a suggested "revisioning process" to the board in April.

Appointed to the task group were Cherie Smith of St. Louis, Relma Hargus of Baton, Rouge, La., Cathy Tamsberg of Raleigh, and Gaddy.

"One of my ongoing concerns is the degree to which we are providing resources to our churches," Tamsberg said. "Members of our progressive Baptist churches need materials to teach children, youth and adults, materials to help people form spiritually. I would hope that, as we begin this revisioning process, we would look hard at what our capacity is and what do we want our capacity to be."

Currently the Alliance does not provide regular ongoing study material for congregations but does have several resources available on specific subjects, including human sexuality and the environment.

Also at the Oakland meeting, the Alliance board approved a 2002 operating budget of just under $290,000 and a mission offering goal of $95,000 to be distributed among 24 organizations. The board also heard a report from Donna Poynor of Gainesville, Fla., that 53 chaplains have been endorsed by the Alliance since it attained endorsing status in 1999.

The board also heard a report about the upcoming annual convocation, scheduled April 5-7 at Wake Forest Baptist Church and Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. Past Alliance president Richard Groves, pastor of the host church, chairs the convocation committee. The theme of that meeting will be "Serving You by Loving All," focusing on one point of the Alliance covenant that emphasizes servant leadership.

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1/18/2002 12:00:00 AM by Sue Harper Poss , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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