ABHMS holds first installment of Native American Leadership Training Series

Despite the COVID-19 crisis that was looming in early March, American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) held “Developing a Strategic Planning Process for Your Church”—the first installment of its Native American Leadership Training Series—for 11 individuals at Bethany Baptist, a Native American church in Clarkdale, Ariz. The training was to be held in conjunction with the Arizona Association of the American Baptist Churches of Los Angeles, Southwest and Hawaii region’s annual gathering planned at Rainbow Acres, Camp Verde, Ariz., but that event was cancelled.

“After significant discussion, we chose by faith to press on knowing that our training would not gather a large crowd, and Arizona was yet to have a large breakout of the virus,” says the Rev. Ben Sullivan, ABHMS’ national coordinator for  Native American Ministries. “We also checked with the leaders of the area to make sure they had no concerns. They assured us they were not worried about it and we persevered.”

In addition to representatives from Bethany Baptist Church were those from Redstone Baptist Church—another Native American congregation in Anadarko, Okla.—and two Latinx churches: Monte Vista Cross Cultural Church, Phoenix, and Iglesia Bautista de Glendale, Ariz.

“I liked the relaxed atmosphere. Small groups worked well,” says Brenda Sullivan of Redstone Baptist Church. “It made it more open to chat and brainstorm.”

Attendees shared that the interactive training provided valuable resources and tools that they could immediately implement with their congregations.

“The training will be used to structure the leadership team at church ASAP,” says Monique Prigmore of Bethany Baptist Church. “The course was easy to apply and perfect for this time.”

Added Angel Campos, pastor of Monte Vista Cross Cultural Church: “This training was refreshing with a new strategy to pursue using our same vision and mission. Exactly what we needed.”

The next training is planned for June 12 at Anadarko (Okla.) Christian Center in conjunction with the Oklahoma Indian American Baptist Association Annual Camp Meeting.

Another training is planned for Aug. 10 at First Crow Indian Baptist Church, Lodge Grass, Mont., in conjunction with the American Baptist Indian Caucus Biennial Gathering. Depending upon what happens with the COVID-19 pandemic, these meetings may be cancelled or held virtually.

If your church or other ministry is seeking new tools and resources to kickstart your planning, contact ABHMS’ Sullivan at ben.sullivan@abhms.org