ABHMS to hold virtual Discipleship Summit on American Baptist identity
VALLEY FORGE, PA (10/12/2023)—American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS) Center for Continuous Learning (CCL) is hosting its annual Discipleship Summit on October 17, from 6-7:30 p.m. Eastern time. Renowned for bringing together ministry leaders and innovators, the virtual event this year will feature the Rev. Joy Martinez-Marshall and the Rev. Don Ng. These two distinguished speakers and longtime ABHMS partners will be discussing Baptist identity, discipleship and faith formation. They will also engage in an interactive Q&A session on these topics.
Rev. Martinez-Marshall, pastor of First Baptist Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, and a member of the Board of Baptist Women in Ministry, explained her desire to share with others about her call to serve within American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA), stating: “For me, being American Baptist gives me the liberty to embrace my call as a female pastor as I join in the priesthood of all believers. There is such grace and freedom in embracing a Baptist identity that I want others to know about it.” This past June, she preached on the challenge of proclaiming God’s kingdom in the world today at the ABCUSA Biennial Mission Summit in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Reflecting on what he considers to be the distinct nature of American Baptists relative to other Baptists, Rev. Ng drew a humorous analogy, likening the “Baptist” label to asking for a “Coke” at a lunch counter. “You mean Coca-Cola, but the beverage you get may be Pepsi Cola or Royal Crown Cola,” he says. “We see numerous churches with Baptist in their names because they too may be practicing ‘believer’s baptism.’ But when we say, ‘We are American Baptist,’ we distinguish ourselves from all the other Baptists and particularly the Southern Baptists!”
The Discipleship Summit provides an excellent opportunity for clergy and lay ministry leaders to explore the question of what it means to be an American Baptist today, according to the Rev. Dr. Rebecca Irwin-Diehl, director of the CCL. “We decided on the topic of Baptist identity because, coming out of the [ABCUSA] Biennial Mission Summit in June, and the mission table conversations, the denomination had settled on seven priorities for the national conversation,” she says. “One of those topics was American Baptist identity.”
Irwin-Diehl went on to say that being American Baptist is an important distinction, particularly at a time when Southern Baptists are making headlines in ways that are negative for many. “It feels like the right moment to open the conversation and to talk about the gifts and the opportunities and the relevance of the Baptist identity,” she says.
For more information and to register for the Discipleship Summit, visit ccl.abhms.org/courses/discipleship-summit-2023. The individual price is $25, while a small-group rate of $50 is available for churches or groups wanting to plan a watch party.
To learn more about the CCL and ABHMS in general, visit abhms.org.
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 USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.