E-Link Online

News of the American Baptist Churches of Michigan

Issue 2017.04 - February 13, 2017

In this issue....

Face to Face

Summer Mission Trip for Young Adults

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Summer Mission 2017

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Annual Church Reports due in Region Office by March 31

By now each local church in the ABC-MI should have received the mailing of the Annual Church Report forms needed to provide statistics and information from your congregation for 2016. It is also available to download, save, and, print. Click here to access it. It is very important that each congregation fill out the required information and return it to the Region office by March 31, 2017. Accurate information benefits the entire ABC family as the data you provide is used to:


The second page, Current Professional Staff, helps us know whom to target with mailings and information related to their position. Please record complete accurate information for this present year. Please include all information requested.

For your added convenience, you have the option of submitting your report online. If you prefer to take advantage of this reporting option, go to annualreport.abcis.org. You will need the Region Pin Number (9880), your Church PIN Number, and your pastor's Leadership ID. If you don't have this information, please call the Region office.

Please submit the form by March 31, 2017 via:

If you have any questions or need further information, please contact the Region office at 800.632.2953. Thank you!

Free booklet offered on Church Cyber Liability

Cyber Liability

Brotherhood Mutual Insurance offers a free booklet on Cyber Liability: 10 Things Every Church Administrator Should Know About Cyber Liability. It addresses:

Make sure you church has covered the bases. To view/download/save the booklet click here.

Executive Minister Begins Mini-Sabbatical February 20

Mike Williams

East Lansing - American Baptist Churches of Michigan Executive Minister Dr. Michael A. Williams begins his second of two mini-sabbaticals approved by the ABC-MI Executive Committee on February 20. He returns March 27. The contract offered at the time he was called as Executive Minister (1999) provided for a three-month sabbatical every seven years. He took his first three-month sabbatical in 2008. When he became eligible for his second sabbatical, he presented to the ABC-MI Executive Committee a request to adjust his sabbatical from one, three-month sabbatical to two, six-week sabbaticals. The first mini-sabbatical would happen in 2016 and the other in 2017. His request was born out of concern over staffing challenges and how a three-month sabbatical creates staffing issues. He spoke with colleagues who have tried their sabbaticals both ways and determined it could work for him. The Executive Committee approved his request, and Dr. Williams took the first mini-sabbatical in February and early March 2016.

"I am deeply grateful to the ABC-MI for recognizing the importance of providing opportunity for their Executive Minister to engage in a sabbatical every seven years," states Dr. Williams. "I did not understand the value of a sabbatical until I took my first sabbatical in 2008. Prior to that sabbatical, I had never had a sabbatical as an option in my previous ministerial positions. While the three-month sabbatical is the ideal, I nonetheless was able to have both a fruitful and restful mini-sabbatical last year and look forward to this second mini-sabbatical." This year's mini-sabbatical will be given to reading and sermon preparation.

Dr. Williams further noted, "I believe our churches should make every effort to include in their pastor/church agreement at the time they call a new pastor the opportunity for their pastor to have a sabbatical. I realize this can be financially challenging for a congregation, but there are creative ways nonetheless to make it happen. Some of our pastors/churches have been able to secure grants to aid in the costs related to a sabbatical. The nature of ministry, particularly in these times, takes spiritual, emotional, and physical tolls on the minister. Ministers are on call twenty-four, seven making it extremely difficult to disengage long enough to truly rest and renew spiritually, emotionally and physically."

During this upcoming mini-sabbatical, Dr. Williams will not respond to e-mail or monitor phone messages. Individuals and churches needing Region assistance during his sabbatical may contact Diane Rhodes, Dr. Williams' Administrative Assistant (517-332-3594 ext.231 or drhodes@abc-mi.org).

Carry the Cross 2017

Dear ABC Friends,

Here's some information with your churches concerning an opportunity for members of your congregation to join in the Carry the Cross 2017 event.

Members of Michigan Avenue Baptist Church, along with other Christians across America, will be carrying the cross on Good Friday, April 14, 2017 from 9:00-11:00 a.m. We would love to have other Christians join us at our location or get involved in witnessing for Christ on other high traffic streets throughout their area.

Imagine as you drive down a busy road and you see someone holding a cross standing on the sidewalk; as you wonder what that was all about, you see someone else on the next corner holding the cross and then another and another as you travel down the road. It becomes an effective way to remind people of Jesus and his sacrifice without saying a word.

Please consider asking your congregation to participate in this event which passively witnesses to motorists in a dramatic way.

Please read the information provided below about this event and check out the Carry the Cross Now website for more information on their organization's mission and construction of the crosses. You can contact me with questions or let me know if you would like to join us or witness on another street in your area.

We hope you will help us witness for Christ this Good Friday.


Becky Geidans
Michigan Avenue Baptist Church, Saginaw
(989) 326-2966

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. -- Romans 1:16. In 2011 the Carry the Cross Organization was created in Missouri by David Craig with one singular purpose, to mobilize Christians to witness for Jesus Christ.

Michigan Avenue Baptist Church members participated in the Carry the Cross event the last three Good Fridays and would like to have more Christians join us. More information about the organization is available on line at carrythecrossnow.com.

Participants carry or stand with a cross along the streets and highways of their town on Good Friday. This is not designed as a dramatization – it is everyday Christians holding a cross in public to draw attention to Christ. They ask that no church, para- church, or any organization attach their name to this event.

They are seeking the mobilization of Christians everywhere on Good Friday, to build and hold crosses on Good Friday on the busy intersections of their community.

Members of our church lined Michigan Avenue in Saginaw, every other block for 12 blocks, for a 2 hour period on our first Good Friday in 2014. In 2015 we were interviewed by the Saginaw News. We found it to be very rewarding personally as we waved or smiled at passing cars, some honking others giving thumbs up. A few of us had people stop and ask why we were holding a cross; to which we replied "to remind people of what Christ did for us."

The crosses are constructed from 2 or 3 inch white PVC pipe.To portray unity, the Carry the Cross organization requests that all crosses for this event be constructed of the same material. Additionally, for safety, economy and excellent visibility, the white PVC crosses serve the purpose well. (See the website for some dramatic pictures).

To make 2 crosses, purchase three 10-ft lengths of 2" or 3" diameter PVC pipes and two PVC connectors (we got ours at Menards). Cut two of the 10 ft. pipes into 8 x 2 pieces. Cut the third 10 ft. pipe into four 30" pieces for the arms of the two crosses. Approximate cost per cross $13.

If you are interested in participating in this Carry the Cross event this Good Friday; either with us, or at your own location, please contact Becky Geidans at (989) 326-2966 so we can coordinate our efforts. What a wonderful way to silently witness for Christ. Will you help?

Annual Clergy Retreat April 23-25, 2017

Clergy Retreat

In an ever-changing world, the church of Jesus Christ must be able to change her methods without compromising her message. We know change is inevitable, but leading change can be difficult. How and where do we start?  Our guest speaker Dr. William D Shiell, President of Northern Seminary will lead five sessions guiding us not to start over, but to Start Here: Lead Your Church to Engage God's World.

At the retreat, you won't just hear from someone who has led this change and then try to figure out what that means for your congregation on your own. In addition to time for personal reflection, there will be an opportunity to hammer out what you hear in a small group setting; within a group of trusted peers who are also working through the implications of how to lead change in an established church.

To view/download/save the retreat brochure click here (pdf). To register online click here. Deadline is April 12. 2017.

The annual retreat is held at the St Francis Retreat Center in DeWitt MI. The retreat center is centrally located (directions) and provides a "place away, a place of quiet to listen for God's voice…to encounter Christ and grow." Be sure to take time to check out the beautiful gardens/grounds.

In addition to the learning, there will be good food, worship, and fellowship!

Please note:

Six Goods Go

Face To Face Scheduled for March

Face to Face

American Baptist Churches of Michigan will join with four other American Baptist regions to host the 2017 Face to Face event on March 24-25 at Greenwood IN First Baptist Church. Over this 2 day period, church search committees and pastors seeking to relocate will worship together and engage in a series of interviews to get better acquainted. For both search committees and pastors, this is an opportunity to meet and learn more about several churches and pastors in a short period of time.

Churches interested in participating must meet three requirements:

Pastors interested in participating must meet two requirements:

The cost for participating and additional information, including registration forms, are on the abc-mi.org website on the home page, in the left column below "Upcoming Events." An ABC-MI staff consultant will be attending Face-to-Face to assist ABC-MI participants and guide them through the event as needed.

Assisting church search committees to find their next called pastor and also assisting pastors seeking to relocate are ways ABC-MI serves the local church. Face to Face is a ministry to those served by the Region.

If you have questions, please contact MaryBeth Robertson through the ABC-MI Region Office, 517-332-3594.

Tea Time

Essexville Baptist Community Church had a Afternoon Ladies tea from 4-6pm on February 6, 2017 with 21 Ladies present. We had 5 different finger sized sandwiches, homemade English Muffins, homemade scones, all kinds of different desserts and 2 teas.

Tea Time

We had a great time of sharing about women in our lives that made a difference. Some tears and lots of laughter. Some ladies wore hats and gloves. Some of the women brought in their snowmen for decorations. Our colors were blue and white. We each received a gift of Adult coloring books and blue & white M&Ms with a wrapped chocolate snowman. We all agreed that we should do it again:):)

   Tea Time

Christina Buschlen was hostess, with help from Peggy Brunner and Prudy Bannick and too many ladies to mention all their names. Many hands make the work load light. It could never have been this great without all the ladies helping out and attending. A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL!!

Men's Prayer Breakfast

Next issue deadline

The next issue of E-Link Online will be published on February 27, 2017. Please send news items, notices, and pictures to the Editor no later than Thursday, February 23.

Editor's trips*

The Editor
  1. Faith-based groups lead the way in serving homeless (Baptist News)
  2. American pastors aren't as young as they used to be (Jesus Creed)
  3. Where grace is concerned sometimes you have to improvise (Bill Leonard)
  4. How to start an internship program in your church (Christianity Today)
  5. Five principles for approaching the Bible after genome science (Jesus Creed)
  6. Keep houses of worship tax-exempt says Baptist Joint Committee (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty)
  7. Timeline of Black Christianity before the Civil War (Christian History)
  8. ABHMS volunteer mission opportunties for 2017
  9. Ministry to immigrants means getting out of your comfort zone (Ethics Daily)
  10. A church becomes racially reconciled (Washington Post)

*Every edition of E-Link Online features links to articles the Editor has tripped over while surfing the Web. Some links have been suggested by others. Don't expect to agree with, approve of, or enjoy them all. Neither the Editor of E-Link Online nor the American Baptist Churches of Michigan necessarily agrees with, endorses, or otherwise puts a stamp of approval on the views expressed in them. They're here to stir the pot, provoke discussion, encourage further inquiry, stimulate an opening of mind and heart, and lead to prayer and action. Readers are invited to send their own suggestions to the Editor.