E-Link Online

News of the American Baptist Churches of Michigan

Issue 2017.11 - May 22, 2017

In this issue....

  • Ann Arbor co-pastor receives Doctor of Ministry degree
  • Matthew 25 grant goes to Lansing clothing center
  • Ecumenical Theological Seminary selling property, plans to relocate
  • May (now!) is Region Offering time
  • Dr. Lee Spitzer named General Secretary of ABCUSA
  • ETS Coffee on the Go on June 7 and 28
  • Apply now for Central Area mission grants
  • Bono has a message for young Christian artists - and much more on Editor's Trips

Comings, goings, celebrations, concerns

Stacey Duke

‡ Congratulations to the Rev. Dr. Stacey Simpson Duke, co-pastor of First Baptist Church of Ann Arbor, on receiving her Doctor of Ministry (D. Min.) degree from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, on May 20.

Her final project was "The Word in Our Mouths: Scripture Memory and Recitation as Proclamation in Congregational Worship and Practice." She presented her findings at a congregational meeting in December and will present a paper on this topic at the American Baptist Theologians Conference, to be held the day before the ABC-USA Biennial meeting in Portland, Oregon, next month.

Matthew 25 Grant supports Judson Love Clothing Center in Lansing


A $2,500 Matthew 25 Grant from American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) is supporting the Judson Love Clothing Center in Lansing, Mich., to donate new clothing to children and youth in need. The grant was awarded last October.

"Our vision has been to provide new clothing for children and youth and to show them through this effort that God loves them," explains Jerre Ward, project volunteer. "Families are facing lost jobs, economic hardship, increases in the cost of living, and in some cases unemployment benefits are running out." The Center is part of Judson Baptist Church in Lansing, a congregation founded in the 1930s in a strongly middle class neighborhood.

Read the full announcement here.

Ecumenical Theological Seminary puts property on market, seeks new home


[Condensed from mlive.com news article]

The asking price for the former First Presbyterian Church: $4.85 million.

"It's the largest property between downtown and Midtown that hasn't otherwise been claimed for development yet," said the Rev. Dr. Stephen Butler Murray. "It makes sense that we can ask for that kind of price, given what we've seen other properties sell for."

The seminary moved into the property in 1992, leasing the church and office building from the Presbyterian Church, which - in 2002 - donated them to the seminary.

This substantial gift allowed the seminary to remain in the property that it had called home and maintain its presence in Detroit along Woodward Avenue.

Yet the costs of upkeep for the two buildings prompted the seminary to study its options for the property for a few years, Murray said. As those discussions escalated, so did the interest in that area of the city. The investment within just blocks has been significant: There's Little Caesars Arena, which anchors The District Detroit and its vision for housing, retail, offices and entertainment; The Scott at Brush Park apartments, valued at $65 million; the $100 million City Modern.

"At the end of the day," Murray said, "our mission is not about historical preservation. And the value of this property has gone up considerably." The 2-acre property includes the church, built in 1889 and on both state and national historic registries; a 150-car parking lot; and the second building, built in 1911, that the seminary uses for administration.

While potential buyers consider the seminary's listing, Murray said he and his board will be searching for a new home for the school and its dozen or so faculty. It teaches about 125 and serves as a commuter campus.

"Right now we have way more space than we need," he said. "That's part of the decision to sell. We'll find something more appropriate to our size, and a more modern facility."

See also Dr. Murray's full statement to the seminary community regarding the decision.

May is Region Offering month


The Region offering, to be received this month, reminds us of the story of a group of Christians coming to Michigan more than 180 years ago to build and equip the church. This work continues to this day in new and exciting ways. This will be our 10th year to promote and receive the Region Offering to continue the work that was started so many years ago and is still going on within the American Baptist Churches of Michigan (ABC-MI) today.

This offering, so critical for underwriting the 2017 Region budget our church delegates approved during the 2016 ABC-MI Annual Meeting, is used these ways:

  • Pastors - To assist with placement, leadership, training, care and support.
  • Leaders - For training, mission opportunities and preparation for ordination.
  • Church Members - We offer support, connections with other churches, spiritual growth resources and conflict transformation.
  • Partner Organizations - We provide connections to ABC within the region and nationally.

To promote the Region Offering be sure to use the poster to hang in a prominent location, three different bulletin inserts, and an offering envelope. Take a look at the bulletin inserts! They are available to download for your use - or we can ship whatever number of inserts you request (please allow at least one week prior to the time you need them for us to ship them to you).

2017 bulletin inserts (click on the title to download):

  • Serving Your Church introduces the Region's logo along with information on: understanding our key impacts, living our values and celebrating our vision. If you use only one insert, this is the one I encourage you to use!
  • Contract Consultants, shares the names of those currently serving as ABC-MI consultants to our pastors and churches either as Ministry Leadership Group Peer Leaders or specialized consultants. We are grateful to God for these gifted servants.
  • Haiti Mission Teams highlights how the Region brings members of our churches together for powerful, impacting Haiti mission opportunities. The ABC-MI is sponsoring our first youth and young adult Haiti mission team going during the summer, 2017.

A packet of materials has been sent to every ABC-MI church. It includes: (1) a sample of the promotional poster; (2) a copy of each of the three bulletin inserts; (3) a sample offering envelope; and (4) a response card to use to request quantities of these items, which will be immediately shipped to you.

Additional Region Offering materials may be ordered by calling Debbie Hart at the Region office (800.632.2953 ext. 221).

Thank you in advance for your support of our ABC-MI ministries and life together!

Dr. Lee B. Spitzer named ABCUSA General Secretary

Lee Spitzer

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 5/9/17) - On Monday, May 8, the Board of General Ministries met at Springhill Suites in Chicago to elect the Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer to the position of General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA. Dr. Spitzer's name was brought forward to the Board of General Ministries by the General Secretary Search Committee. Over the past several months the Search Committee had interviewed numerous candidates. After much prayer, discernment, and deep discussion, the committee identified Dr. Spitzer as the candidate best suited to lead American Baptists forward.

Currently Dr. Spitzer serves as Executive Minister for the American Baptist Churches in New Jersey (ABCNJ). He has served congregations in New Jersey, Nebraska, and Rhode Island. Dr. Spitzer brings a wide range of experience and expertise to his new role as General Secretary. In ABCNJ he guided a strategic planning and renewal process, provided pastoral leadership, launched new ministries and collaborative efforts, created networks and new partnerships, promoted church growth, fostered a united community, and managed financial growth. He continues to speak prophetically into current issues and concerns.

Dr. Spitzer has authored Endless Possibilities: Exploring the Journeys of Your Life (1997), the companion Endless Possibilities Course Book (2001), A Summer's Journey (2001), three articles for the Encyclopedia of Religious and Spiritual Development (Sage, 2006), and Jesus Christ from Cover to Cover (2006). In his first Judson Press book, Making Friends, Making Disciples (2010), he explores the pivotal role friendship plays in support of the church's mission to make disciples and evangelize. Dr. Spitzer's newest Judson Press book, Baptists, Jews, and the Holocaust: The Hand of Sincere Friendship, is scheduled for release in October 2017.

His goal as General Secretary is "to lead ABCUSA into a future of spiritual renewal, creative service, and church growth, in joyful cooperation with all partners of the American Baptist Family." His efforts as General Secretary will be directed toward strengthening connections with ABC regions, affirming and enhancing our diversity, reaching out to the next generation of leaders, growing trust and collaboration, strengthening our American Baptist identity and providing administrative leadership in areas of stewardship, funding, and fiduciary concerns.

Dr. Spitzer will be preaching on Sunday morning, July 2, at the American Baptist Biennial Mission Summit in Portland, Oregon.

ABCUSA President, Judy Fackenthal, wishes to extend her gratitude to the work and ministry of the General Secretary Search Committee: Wesley Roberts (Committee vice-chair), Robin Crouch, Shirley Fair, Kelly Legg, Charity Matic, Don Ng, Marcia Patton, Charles Revis, Don Robinson, Tom Ross, and John Williams-along with ABC staff member, Marilyn Tyson.

Dr. Spitzer will begin his service as General Secretary on June 1.

ETS Coffee

Apply now for Central Area mission grants

The Central Area has $400 available for "joint mission grants" which are given to projects or ministries of Central Area churches focusing on outreach and/or mission to the community, or to an ABC-related mission. These grants should support activities by members of Central Area churches and not provide direct funds to another organization.

First priority will be given to ministries involving two or more Central Area churches. Second priority will be given to cooperative ministries involving a Central Area church and other denominations. If funds remain, ministries of individual congregations will be considered. A church must have paid dues to the Central Area within the last 2 years to be eligible for these grants.

Please submit requests for funds by May 31 to Sue Ellen Glover, 3307 Hillside, Ypsilanti MI 48197 or gloverse@hotmail.com. Please include a description of the ministry and list the other churches involved.

Next issue deadline

The next issue of E-Link Online will be published on June 5, 2017. Please send news items, notices, and pictures to the Editor by Thursday, June 1.

Editor's trips*

The Editor
  1. 5 things you should never say to a small-church pastor (Christianity Today)
  2. Pastor thought for years he had to hide his depression (Sojourners)
  3. Bi-vocational ministry can take emotional toll on pastors (Ethics Daily)
  4. We're bad at death - first we need a good talk (NY Times, The Upshot)
  5. Bono has a message for young Christian artists (HuffPost)
  6. Why walking helps us think (New Yorker)
  7. Stanley Hauerwas to lecture at Northern Seminary - "Do we still need the church?" (seminary.edu)

*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.