Saturday, July 20, 2013

Spending time with fellow Baptists

Dr. Byron Williams, Moderator
of the Central Hudson Association,
convenes the Wednesday morning session.

On Wednesday, July 17, I attended the morning session in Albany, NY, of the Central Hudson Association, comprised of 40+ churches from just before NYC to the Capital District area of New York.  I attended part of the 91st Annual Session, a four day event gathering churches together for fellowship, worship and conducting association business.  I appreciate the encouragement of Pastors Everett Newton and Harry Brown, Jr., to attend these sessions.  Rev. Newton and Rev. Brown are two dually aligned clergy with the American Baptists and the National Baptist Convention.  The ABC NYS region has a number of dually aligned clergy and congregations within its own fellowship.

As part of my outreach to build up the relationships and partnerships with the ABCNYS region and its constituents and potential mission partners, I brought greetings at the outset of the morning session, inviting churches to imagine greater possibilities together than apart.

To the association moderator the Rev. Dr. Byron Williams, for his gracious welcome and kind invitation to bring greetings, to the gathered clergy, and to the congregants assembled into this one great body, and especially to those honored later today: our elders, who have brought us to faith and to grow up strong and to our youth, who shall carry on long after we have gone on, may God bless this wonderful day when we have gathered together.

I serve as the Associate Regional Minister for the American Baptist Churches of New York State.  That’s better known as 300+ churches from here to Buffalo, Canada and almost to the City.  And among these churches, we count a number of dually aligned churches.  So, while we have our own identities as conventions, we have some very important treasures shared in common:  these churches, these pastors and most importantly, our calling to be one in Christ Jesus.

Christ prayed that all who believed would be one, just as God and Christ are one.  From such a prayer, we have our unity.  Christ said we are one, yet we struggle from generation to generation to live into that reality. We still are a people in need a good reformation every once in awhile, for otherwise we might miss the Kingdom’s goal.  We need new ideas for emerging trends so that we can embrace the unfolding future.  Yet what we learned in Sunday school years ago still rises above it all.  The ancient wisdom as recorded by the Gospel according to St. John gives us the good word:  We are already one in Christ Jesus.

The work of living into that oneness is sometimes burdensome, sometimes uplifting, but all of it is gain for the glory of the Kingdom/Reign of God.   It is out of that biblical wisdom and theological conviction that I stand here this day, bringing greetings from one group of Baptists to another.

We have a great landscape of towns and cities in common, where we live and pray in the Central Hudson Association, aka for American Baptists as the MidHudson/Union and the Capital District associations.   Could we imagine together more opportunities to cooperate, to bring our churches together to share resources when it comes to meeting the deep needs of our communities?  How could our voices be raised together and our mission be shoulder-to-shoulder?

I would hope that you would visit with me and dream with ABCNYS about what can be done to strengthen our ties one to another.   The mission field is one we share in common.  Could we work together more often?  Could we share wisdom, talent and creativity? 

We have treasures to celebrate with shared churches and shared clergy.  We have much more opportunity to explore, one convention to another.

I can assure you it will be time well spent.  We are humbly living into the greater treasure we share:  being made One in Christ Jesus.

To learn more about the Central Hudson Association, visit
For more information about this year's association meeting, visit
To learn more about the American Baptist Churches of New York State, visit

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