America for Christ Offering

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Introduction

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Dear Pastor and Church Leaders,

Since 1824, American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) has been declaring the good news of our Lord in word and deed. Today, ABHMS remains rooted in cultivating leaders and disciples who impact the continually changing society in the United States and Puerto Rico with the Gospel that heals and transforms.

The theme for the America for Christ Offering 2017, “Cultivating Leaders, Equipping Disciples, Healing Communities,” inspires and encourages us to partner with American Baptist Churches USA in answering God’s call to live out the Christian faith in transforming individuals, congregations and communities; to develop networks and programs committed to nurturing Christ-centered leaders; and to promote witness and evangelism as well as discipleship and social justice.

In Luke 4:18-19 we read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (NRSV).

As American Baptists plant congregations, initiate programs or engage in mission in the United States and Puerto Rico, our motivation should be Christ-centered, Biblically informed and justice-minded. Our mission and vision should be inclusive of every tribe and race and people. When the Spirit of the Lord anoints us to join the ministry of Jesus, we will pray and work for the release of captives, the recovery of sight to the blind and liberty for the oppressed. Join us in making these things happen!

As American Baptists, let us give generously to the America for Christ Offering 2017. Let us partner together in “Cultivating Leaders, Equipping Disciples, and Healing Communities” for the cause of Christ.

Thank you for your generous gifts!

Haggray Jeffrey CROPPED_175w
Dr. Jeffrey Haggray
Executive Director, ABHMS
American Baptist Churches USA

Cultivating Leaders: A Biblical Reflection

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” — Luke 4:18-19

 

By Dr. Jeffrey Haggray

At the start of his ministry, Jesus entered a synagogue and read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. The text he read constituted the platform for his ministry. Jesus publicly announced that God had anointed him to be the bearer of a message that would change the world. God’s concern for the poor functioned as the magnetic north in Jesus’ moral and missional compass. Jesus understood that his treatment toward the poor would become the reference point by which his message, motives and ministry are measured for generations to follow.

All who profess faith today in Jesus as our Lord must grapple with the question, “What does it mean in practice for the spirit of our Lord to be upon us?” Faithful followers of Jesus must attend to the missional priorities that inspired, informed and guided Jesus throughout his ministry. Jesus prioritized release, recovery, liberation and proclamation as his foremost mission activities.

We might ask what it would look like today for Christian leaders to emphasize ministries of release from captivity as a missional priority for the church. Captivity in today’s world encompasses a wide swath of social, political, economic and moral forces that prevent people from actualizing their potential as persons created in God’s image with all the rights and privileges of God’s children. Our “release” has been purchased by the redeeming and reconciling sacrifice of Jesus. All God’s children are entitled to pursue life in all of its fullness without entrapments and encumbrances.

Sight to the blind may be understood more broadly as empowerment and healing from the physical and social maladies that constrain our movement in this world. In Jesus’ day, blindness defined one’s entire existence and severely limited movement and quality of life. What are the physical and social illnesses that characterize life at its worst in our communities today, from which people seek recovery and healing?

Countless people in our communities and across our nation struggle with oppression, marginalization and degradation in so many aspects of daily life. Oppression is rooted in actual economic, political and social ills that can be identified, addressed and overcome. Spiritual empowerment and engagement moves Christians to name and confront the social ills that oppress people while advocating and working on behalf of their liberation.

The year of the Lord’s favor refers to a moment in time when God will actively correct the social, economic, moral and spiritual imbalances that govern our lives. Some scholars believe it is an ancient reference to the year of Jubilee, when debts and trespasses are forgiven, wrongs are rectified and the earth is renewed.

As our leader and Lord, Jesus communicated an important self-understanding of his role in the world in relation to God’s calling and purpose. Later in his ministry, when John’s disciples asked Jesus to authenticate himself as the Messiah, he pointed to his faithfulness regarding the promised actions and answered, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them” (Luke 7:22).

The church today urgently needs the kind of leadership that Christ provided. Moreover, we must continually assess our faithfulness in our time to the missional priorities articulated by Jesus.

Dr. Jeffrey Haggray is executive director of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

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FAQ's

What is the America for Christ (AFC) Offering 2017 theme?
“Cultivating Leaders, Equipping Disciples, Healing Communities” Based on the passage from Luke 4:18-19 (NRSV)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

What is the promotional window for the AFC Offering 2017?
The AFC Offering 2017 window is from Jan. 1 through Mar. 31.

What is the distribution of the total AFC Offering 2017?
The offering is distributed in three parts:
• 29% supports regional ministries
(American Baptist Home Mission Societies [ABHMS] is the only mission board to share its offering with American Baptist Churches USA regions)
• 59% supports the ministries of ABHMS
(20% directly supports ABHMS’ Neighborhood Action Program Christian centers)
• 12% supports the offering’s promotional and deputation costs

Are there ideas for engaging children and youth?
YES. In the Leaders Guide, you will find excellent resources to engage the children and youth in Sunday school activities or a mission project.

If I have a question about the AFC Offering 2017, whom do I contact?
You can connect with ABHMS’ Mission Advancement office by contacting:
• Leda Carter, Administrative Assistant, 1.800.222.3872, x2028
• The Rev. Dr. Eddie Cruz, Director, 1.800.222.3872, x2423

How do I get more AFC Offering 2017 materials?
Call Judson Press at 1-800-4JUDSON (1-800-458-3766) to speak with a customer service representative.

Where do I send my check?
America for Christ
American Baptist Home Mission Societies
P.O. Box 851
Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851

Speaker Request Form

 Choose the option which works best for you:

  • • Fill out the 2017 Speaker Request Form online
  • • Print a PDF of the 2017 Speaker Request Form to return via U.S. Mail, Fax or email.

Home Mission Speakers
*Please note that many of the speakers listed are ordained ministers.

Evaluation Form

Choose the option which works best for you:

  • • Fill out the 2017 AFC Evaluation form online
  • Print a PDF of the 2017 AFC Evaluation form to return via U.S. Mail
English Resources

The following America for Christ (AFC) promotion items are available for download and/or from Judson Press:

  • • AFC 2017 Mini-Poster is available in English (PDF) and Spanish (PDF), item #AF171 (English only).
  • • AFC 2017 Leader’s Guide is available in English (PDF), item #AF172, and in Spanish (PDF), item #AF172S.
  • • AFC 2017 Leader’s Guide Congregational Letter is available in English (WORD) and in Spanish (WORD) – download only.
  • • Bulletin inserts in English (PDF), item #AF173 and Spanish (PDF), item #AF173S.
  • • Offering envelopes, item #AF174.
  • • Coin boxes, item #AF175.
  • • Evaluation form (PDF), item #AF176 (also included in your AFC leader’s packet).
  • • DVD with inspirational stories of home mission, item #AF177.
  • • The goal chart in English (PDF) and Spanish (PDF), item #AF178 (English only).

Make your America for Christ (AFC) Offering campaign a success by ordering offering materials from Judson Press Customer Service at 1-800-4JUDSON (1-800-458-3766)

Recursos en Español

Los siguientes América para Cristo (AFC) artículos de promoción están disponibles para su descarga y / o de Judson Press:

  • • AFC 2017 Mini-Poster está disponible en Inglés (PDF) y español (PDF), artículo #AF171 (Sólo Inglés).
  • Guía de la AFC 2017 del líder está disponible en Inglés (PDF), artículo #AF172y en español (PDF), artículo #AF172S.
  • Guía Congregacional Carta AFC 2017 del líder está disponible en Inglés (WORD) y en español (WORD) – descarga solamente.
  • Inserciones de anuncios en Inglés (PDF), artículo #AF173 y español (PDF), artículo #AF173S.
  • Los sobres de ofrendaartículo #AF174.
  • Bandejas para monedas, artículo #AF175.
  • • Formulario de evaluación (PDF), artículo #AF176 (también incluido en el paquete de su líder AFC).
  • DVD con historias inspiradoras de la misión a casa, artículo #AF177.
  • El gráfico de objetivos en Inglés (PDF) y español (PDF), artículo #AF178 (SóloInglés).

Haga de su campaña de la Ofrenda América Para Cristo (APC) un éxito haciendo su pedido de materiales a través de Judson Press en el 1-800-4JUDSON (1-800-458-3766)

 

You can connect with ABHMS’ Mission Advancement office by contacting:
Leda Carter, Administrative Assistant, 1.800.222.3872, x2028
The Rev. Dr. Eddie Cruz, Director, 1.800.222.3872, x2423