ABHMS partner organization promotes ‘two-fold reconciliation’

With the divisiveness of today’s world, what’s better than reconciliation? Reconciliation multiplied by two. And two-fold reconciliation is just what American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) partner the New Baptist Covenant (NBC) seeks: reconciliation of diverse Baptist churches with each other and reconciliation among communities plagued by racial disparity.

NBC strives to break down barriers of race, theology and geography among Baptists through “Covenants of Action,” or churches paired to work collaboratively on social justice projects in their neighborhoods.

ABHMS was among more than 30 Baptist organizations convened by former President Jimmy Carter for NBC’s inaugural gathering in January 2008 in Atlanta. More than 15,000 individuals participated, including ABHMS’ leadership team and then-ABHMS Executive Director Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins III, now ABHMS’ executive director emeritus.

ABHMS Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Haggray has served on NBC’s advisory team. Wright-Riggins currently serves on NBC’s executive committee, participated in an NBC Summit in 2013 and co-led the summit’s program committee in 2015.

“ABHMS has been a key partner and wonderful support since our founding, and continues to be a strong partner,” says NBC Executive Director Hannah McMahan. “One thing that has resonated between the two organizations is deep commitment to reconciliation and racial justice. We have found ourselves as natural partners in this work with Baptists.”

Covenant of Action projects have addressed education, food insecurity and economic development, according to NBC’s website.

When pairing churches for projects, “we joke about, in some ways, NBC becomes–instead of the ‘E Harmony’–the ‘B Harmony’ for Baptists churches,” McMahan says. “Some churches come to us who have partnership that is kind of already in place but they want to deepen it. We help walk them through that process. Sometimes one church approaches us and says, ‘We’re interested in having this happen. Can you help us find a partner?’”

Individuals interested in exploring the possibility of entering their churches into Covenants of Action are encouraged to register to attend the NBC Summit 2016, “Journeying to Covenant Community” to be held Sept. 14-16 in Atlanta.

“All across the country, we see headlines of division and injustice. We have Covenants of Action churches that are standing up to be a witness for the Kingdom of God,” McMahan says. “The time has never been more apt, and the world needs that message right now.”