ABHMS-sponsored Mission Summit activities begin with pre-event conference

PORTLAND, OR (ABNS 7/1/17)American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) sponsored a variety of activities prior to and on the first day of the three-day American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) 2017 Biennial Mission Summit at Oregon Convention Center, Portland.

Awards were presented at a luncheon during Thursday’s pre-Mission Summit “Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministry Conference” for chaplains, pastoral counselors and those who serve in specialized ministry settings. Dr. Delois Brown-Daniels, retired vice president for Mission and Spiritual Life at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Chicago, received the Paul W. Strickland Institutional Chaplaincy Merit Award. Chaplain Col. William Sean Lee, Joint Force Headquarters chaplain for the state of Maryland and co-pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Towson, Md., received the Lorraine K. Potter Military Chaplaincy Merit Award. The Carolyn M. Piper Pastoral Counseling Merit Award was presented to the Rev. Elizabeth Ritzman, director of the Wellness Center at Dominican University, River Forest, Ill., and a counselor in private practice.

On Friday morning, more than 70 American Baptists participated in the first “American Baptists Bike,” a half-mile bike ride that provided a healthy, fun way to raise awareness of environmental issues, while allowing the largest number of Baptist laity and clergy to ride bikes simultaneously for the first time.

“Anytime I’m on a bike, it is a chance to witness for ecological, racial and economic justice,” said the Rev. G. Travis Norvell, also known as the “pedaling pastor” of Judson Memorial Baptist Church, Minneapolis. “It was great to ride with the American Baptist family.”

Event planning team member Laura Miraz, Ph.D., ABHMS associate executive director, Human Resource Services, and avid cyclist added: “We really appreciated the opportunity to ride around Portland and connect with American Baptists who have a passion for wellness and ecojustice. ABHMS appreciates the support of our co-sponsors, and we look forward to many more American Baptist cycling events.”

American Baptists Bike was co-sponsored by ABHMS; Norvell; American Baptist Churches of the Central Pacific Coast; ABCUSA’s Creation Justice Network; American Baptist Foundation; International Ministries; Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board; and BIKETOWN, Portland.

Several Christian-influenced artists and performers showcased their original works at ABHMS’ “Space for Grace” until midnight on Friday. Among them was Los Angeles-based Ronnie Ro, who paints live onsite at events. Featured when ABHMS debuted Space for Grace in 2015 in Los Angeles, Ro said he was excited to return for Space for Grace’s second iteration.

“It’s not just come and look and say, ‘Oh, this is cute,’” Ro said of his art. “The idea behind all of this is to connect. I’m hoping this year that people can get deeper with it [the art]–that they can connect more with it.”

Also performing Friday at Space for Grace was Melanie R. Hill, who delighted conference-goers with her gospel-inspired violin selections. Hill has performed on Bobby Jones’ Gospel Hour on BET, at the NAACP’s 97th Annual Convention and at the world-famous Apollo Theater in New York City.

Space for Grace will continue for the duration of Mission Summit.

 American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.

American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.