American Baptist Home Mission Societies convenes second installment of Justice Dialogues

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 11/13/20)—“Post-presidential Election Strategies” was the subject of the second installment of American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS) Justice Dialogues held Tuesday on the ministrElife social networking platform.

After stressing that all justice work matters, ABHMS Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Haggray encouraged participants to continue to define justice and to practice self-care physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally as they engage in justice work.

Participants were divided into small virtual groups and asked to answer the following questions: “Given the situation in our nation, what are you feeling and experiencing right now?” and “What hopes and concerns are you hearing, addressing and forecasting in your communities, churches, workplaces and families regarding the election outcomes?”

In her small group, Dr. Doris Garcia-Rivera, interim chief executive officer at BPFNA-Bautistas por la Paz, Charlotte, N.C., shared that she has been feeling predominantly positive since a new president has been elected.

“I’m happy because this [the situation with the current presidential administration] has been for so long so difficult, knowing immigrants from Mexico and feeling and understanding and seeing all that happened with them over the four years and the families that were ripped apart,” she said. “The hope that things will change makes me happy. On the other hand, this new administration will be facing a difficult context.”

Dawana Wade, chief executive officer of Salama Urban Ministries, Nashville, shared that she is concerned about the havoc that can be wrought by the current presidential administration prior to the inauguration of the new president.

“Very few people in our national government are willing to stand up and stop this [the actions of the current president],” she said. “Folks are willing to eschew anything that’s in the rules.”

The Rev. Miriam Mendez, executive minister of American Baptist Churches of New Jersey, added that she feels tired but not hopeless.

“I was talking to one of my colleagues, and I said, ‘I’m exhausted.’ I was tired of watching the news and turning it on to be abused, turning it on to experience violence, turning it on to experience hatred,” she said.

Regarding the second question, Wade told her group that it’s important to encourage voting in the upcoming run-off state election in Georgia.

“I’m encouraging folks to keep the fervor—to keep the faith—but put some works behind the faith,” she said. “I’m hearing concerns that if we don’t win those seats in January—not that we’re doomed—but it’s a challenging situation.”

Admitting that peacemaking would be difficult, Garcia-Rivera questioned the manner in which to broach conversation with Christians who hold a different political ideology than one’s own.

“We have people who have voted for [President Donald J.] Trump in our church—part of our body of Christ,” she said. “How do we create some common spaces to at least start talking to each other?”

The Justice Dialogues seeks to provide conversation, allyship, spiritual support and an exchange of ideas, perspectives and resources among diverse nationwide participants during this difficult age of racial unrest and its intersecting challenges, in addition to COVID-19, political polarization and natural disasters. Participants included activists, pastors, writers, educators and networkers.

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.