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News of the American Baptist Churches of Michigan

Issue 2018.09 - April 30, 2018

A prayer of blessing

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

--- A Franciscan blessing quoted by Pastor Carol McCleary in the Michigan Avenue Baptist Beacon Newsletter, May 2018

In this issue....

Camp Lael summer camp schedule

ABCUSA General Secretary's visit to Michigan April 22-24

The Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer, ABCUSA General Secretary, made his first visit to Michigan after accepting the call to serve as General Secretary in June 2017. Dr. Spitzer's visit April 22-24 included:

Hartford Memorial Baptist Church of Detroit

Dr. Spitzer spoke at both the 7:30 AM and 11:00 AM April 22 worship services of the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church where he acknowledged their significant contributions to the American Baptist family over the years. He noted the impact of the Rev. Dr. Charles Gilcrest Adams over his more than fifty years of ministry. He honored this historic congregation in the year they are celebrating their 100 years of service to our God. In his message, Dr. Spitzer shared his conversion from Judaism to Jesus at fourteen years of age, becoming convinced that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah on Christmas Eve 1971. In sharing his story, he gave a positive message of hope, encouragement and the power of reconciliation. He acknowledged the fact that it was Earth Sunday and referred to his pastoral letter entitled, "Journeying Toward the Summit by the Sea - A Pastoral Letter on Environmental Care and Creation Justice in observance of the 48th Anniversary of Earth Day."

Friendship House, Hamtramck

Dr. Spitzer spent Sunday afternoon visiting Friendship House. His desire to visit Friendship House came after receiving a letter from Cathy Maher, the Friendship House Executive Director. She was responding to his February pastoral letter entitled, "A Higher Way: American Baptists and Our Neighbors." Dr. Spitzer immediately contacted Dr. Williams and requested to add Friendship House to his travel agenda. He was touched by the work of Friendship House and presented to the Board of Directors a personal financial gift, coming from him and his wife Lois, in the amount of $500. He honored the good work taking place at Friendship House and encouraged them to remain steadfast in their efforts.

ABC-MI Clergy Retreat

Dr. Spitzer spent the balance of his visit with the participants at the ABC-MI Clergy Retreat held at the St. Francis Retreat Center, DeWitt, MI. He was joined by his colleague, the Reverend Marcia Scipio, ABCUSA Associate General Secretary for Missional Initiatives and Partnerships and Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse. They led Monday's discussions with Dr. Lukensmeyer presenting the topic: "Incivility and Political Dysfunction: What Can the Church Do About It?" Dr. Spitzer spoke on the topic: "Pastoring Jesus' Church in a Pluralistic Age."

The last photo is of speaker Dr. Virgil Gulker, Director of Generation Spark, Hope College, Holland, MI.

2018 Haiti Mission Trip

This year our Michigan Servants for Christ Region mission team will travel to Haiti mid-November. The team will continue construction of the housing complexes known as Bethany I, Bethany II and Bethel and also also install and service clean water filters.

The cost will be $900 per person flying out of Detroit through Miami to Cap-Haitien. This includes round trip airfare, lodging, meals and transportation in Haiti. The trip will be 8 days total and we hope 12-14 people from our Michigan churches will join together to make this team. A deposit of $200 is due no later than May 1 to secure a spot. The balance of $750 must be paid in full by September 1.

A valid passport is required and CDC recommended vaccines and immunization are strongly encouraged.

Who in your congregation will be a part of this team? Exact dates will be determined soon. To sign up or learn more, contact Region Mission Consultant Lynne Punnett at lynnepunnett@yahoo.com or 734-834-3886.

University Baptist to hold final service on May 6

University Baptist Church of East Lansing will hold its historic final "Finishing Well" Worship Service and Fellowship event, Sunday May 6, 10:00-1:30, as its ceases ministry in East Lansing after 55 years. Rev. Dr. Michael Williams will bring the message. An alumni and friends choir will sing, with standup rehearsal at 9:00 on May 6. Contact Judy Ellis for additional details, ellis@msu.edu. RSVP for Lunch required by April 30 - Email: unibapt@gmail.com.

In addition, the church will hold several purchasing opportunities in May and June to be good stewards of the ministry assets and resources. Proceeds will be disbursed to designated missions that the Church has supported, including Athletes in Action. The first opportunity is extended to sister American Baptist Churches, Thursday, May 24, 3-7 pm. Library resources, choir music, robes, handbells, choir chimes, church van, pianos, worship banners (shown at right), and other various ministry and fellowship resources will be available. Send a church representative, and/or contact the church office via email, unibapt@gmail.com if you are interested to know more about these items. Cash, or check accepted, and check may be sent within 10 days for total items purchased. A similar greater Lansing area event for community churches will be held on Thursday, June 7, 4-7pm. A "sidewalk" sale is scheduled for the public on June 8-9, 9-3pm, cash only.

Pastoral letter from ABCUSA General Secretary Lee Spitzer

Journeying Toward the Summit by the Sea
A Pastoral Letter on Environmental Care and Creation Justice
in observance of the 48th Anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, 2018
by Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer, General Secretary
American Baptist Churches USA

"The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it" (Psalm 24:1)

2018 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the passage of the American Baptist Policy Statement on Ecology, which was based on this beautiful verse. As the Psalmist proclaims, God is the Creator of our world and all living things. Similarly, John's Gospel introduces Jesus, "the Word," as the one through whom "all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made" (John 1:3; see v. 10). Paul links Jesus' role in the universe's creation to his roles as Savior and Lord of the church:

"The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy...and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." (Colossians 1:15-20)

Salvation, reconciliation, discipleship, creation care and justice all find their source in God through Jesus. Environmental concern and stewardship has been a life-long aspect of my personal spiritual journey. As a new Christian dedicated to integrating science and spirituality, I served as the president of my high school's ecology club, aptly called "S.A.V.E." (Students Against Violence to the Environment). Through this expression of activism, I became friends with a fellow student, Lois, who would subsequently express her own faith in Jesus as her Savior and Lord. We have now been married for over four decades, and as grandparents, we continue to feel a responsibility to preserve and enhance our global eco-system so that future generations might enjoy the God-given beauty of nature and life.

As Christ's followers, American Baptists have throughout the years heard God's call to respect, love and tend to our environment. In addition to the 1988 Policy Statement, creation care and justice have been highlighted in several resolutions and policy statements. In the American Baptist Churches Policy Statement on Human Rights (1976), "the right to a secure and healthy environment, clean air, pure water, and an earth that can nurture and support present and future generations" was cited as a fundamental human right. Statements can be found on a range of environmental and creation justice issues, including energy (1977), nuclear power (1982), the disposal of hazardous and radioactive waste (1982), environmental concerns (1983), the Law of the Sea treaty (1983), clean air (1990), individual lifestyles for ecological responsibility (1990), the CERES Principles for environmentally responsible economies (1991), and global warming (1991). American Baptists continue to respond generously and sacrificially to environmentally related events, such as massive fires in the western U.S. and hurricane relief, through One Great Hour of Sharing and ABHMS coordinated disaster relief efforts. Globally, our IM missionaries engage in life-changing development work, such as clean water projects and sustainable agriculture. Many regions and Green Lake offer opportunities to grow spiritually in settings that inspire a deeper appreciation of nature.

ABCUSA's commitment to creation care and justice has been consistent and longstanding, and as General Secretary, I call upon all American Baptist related churches, institutions, leaders and members to continue this tradition of environmental activism. Before I assumed this pastoral position, the ABCUSA Board of General Ministries approved the formation of the ABCUSA Creation Justice Network to encourage our denomination's witness on environmental matters. In November 2017, the Board approved the network's proposal to enter into a partnership with ecoAmerica and its faith community arm, Blessed Tomorrow (blessedtomorrow.org).

The upcoming Biennial Mission Summit in Virginia Beach, Virginia (June 21-23, 2019) is the perfect setting for us to reaffirm our commitment to ecological care as we gather for our family-wide Summit by the Sea. VBS-style programs focused on appreciating God's creation will be offered for children (elementary through high school). Come and enjoy the beautiful coastal ecosystem and the majesty of the ocean as it meets the shore. Our seas are very sensitive to environmental challenges, such as global warming, the melting of glaciers, and pollution from plastics. I would like to encourage our spiritual family to prepare for this Summit by the Sea by embracing spiritual disciplines and practices such as:

Environmental care is not solely a political issue, but a matter of faith and stewardship. We are not motivated by any partisan political purpose, and it is regrettable that this issue has been politicized to such an extent that it has caused confusion and inaction. Part of our unique witness as a politically diverse spiritual family (joining in witness with others) involves showing the world that climate change can be addressed on a higher moral and spiritual plane that transcends divisive political discourse.

As inhabitants of this world and citizens of the wealthiest country in history, we share responsibility for the future of our planet. Global environmental protection requires cooperative steps between all the countries of the world. Multi-national companies also play a key role in impacting how natural materials are utilized. Although thoughtful people may reach different conclusions on how to address the various pressing issues the earth's ecosystem faces, I would encourage all of us to appreciate the contributions of scientific research in helping to guide policy decisions, to resist the temptation to deny that environmental changes are taking place, and to support international treaties and agreements on ecological concerns.

In spite of the real and pressing environmental challenges facing our generation, I am hopeful that we will find creative ways to address ecological challenges and its associated justice issues. The whole world is holy, the work of the Creator. God's breath gives life to humanity (Genesis 1-2) and to all creatures (Psalm 104). We live in a world of beauty and wonder, a world animated and sustained by the love of God. Let us give thanks for the beauty and vitality of the Earth; let us work to preserve God's Garden!

Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer, ABCUSA General Secretary

Thanks to churches which participated in 2017 Light the Way program

From: Jennifer Young
Date: Monday, March 26, 2018 at 2:26 PM
To: Michael Williams
Cc: Daniel Buttry, Bob Chapman
Subject: Re: American Baptist - Light the Way

Rev. Williams,

Thank you for your support in getting the word out about the 2017 Light the Way program. There were 20 Baptist houses of worship who participated in the Light the Way program last year, most of whom signed-up after your e-newsletter announcement went out. Light the Way participants in the 2017 program are now saving an average of $800/year on their energy bills - savings that can go right back into their vital missions and ministries - as a result of the energy efficient upgrades offered through this program.

The 2018 program was so well received that Consumers has extended the program into 2018. Other good news is that the program is being extended this year to houses of worship throughout the state and not limited to certain geographic regions. The main eligibility criteria is that the house of worship has Consumers service for either electric or for both electric and gas.

We would love to see American Baptist Churches benefit from this opportunity. Please let us know if you would be available to send out an announcement about the 2018 program through the monthly e-newsletter.

A flyer describing the program is attached, as well as a sample announcement for an e-newsletter. More information is also available on our website at: www.miipl.org/energy-efficiency/.

Please do let us know if there's any other info that would be useful. We welcome your insights and suggestions as to how to notify American Baptist Churches about this opportunity.

Best regards,

Jennifer Young
Project Manager
Michigan Interfaith Power & Light
(248) 463-8811 | projectmanager@miipl.org

AB Women's Conference June 1-3

Save the date - June 1-3, 2018, in DeWitt, Mi.

Hear great speakers! Enjoy the fellowship of AB Women! Come and sew bandages! Enjoy the beautiful grounds! Renew friendships and make new friends! Enjoy singing around the campfire! Share a room with a friend and make a new friend!

For more information go here.

Next issue of E-Link Online is May 14

Plan your announcements, articles, etc. accordingly. Send your submissions to joemort36@gmail.com by May 10.

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Contacting the Editor

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Editor's Picks

  1. Going to church with Jimmy Carter (New York Times)
  2. First International Ministries Global Servants headed to Colombia, South America (International Ministries)
  3. America obsessed with virtue of work - what about virtue of rest? (Washington Post)
  4. Growing trend of unmarried parents living with their children (The Atlantic)
  5. When Americans say they believe in God, what do they mean? (Pew Forum)
  6. Publishers halt publication of Hybel's books (Publisher's Weekly)
  7. The year I learned to quit (New York Times)

*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.