On the 23rd of May myself and Steve met with Jim Kelsey the Executive Minister of New York for the American Baptist Church. The goal of the meeting was to meet directly with the upper authority in the ABC to discuss ministry perspectives, specifically in regards to their stance on certain social issues and their leadership structure in general.
The meeting unfortunately went as expected with both ourselves and Jim being very clear and honest on where we stood. The ABC has a leadership structure where they do not provide oversight or direction unless first asked by a congregation. This leads to a very apathetic leadership structure and in my opinion frustratingly irresponsible on the shepherding side. The ABC as a denomination has a fundamental root where they allow churches to interpret scripture how they choose and ABC will back them fully (except in areas of abuse noted Jim). In the realm of social progressiveness this leads them, as Jim put it, “not to fight this battle anymore” but this is to ensure that they “don’t make their circle too small”. Jim’s position is specifically designed to oversee and to intervene in matters that need to be resolved amidst churches so if there were a person that would be in the know, it would be him.
At the end of the meeting both Steve and myself left understanding that prayer as a body needs to be sought. The ABC has a lackluster structure that they are very content in and it is apparent that they are not ones to stand on Biblical Truth for the fear of dying on the mole hill of some social issues. As elders we would as that as a family we pray through our association with ABC together. Jim proudly stated in our meeting that he has been in many other denominations and “is American Baptist through and through”, so may we pray and seek what the fruit of having ties with this denomination are and if we can confidently and biblically stand with them.