Moldovan visitors meet with PCBA
In January, the Pacific Coast Baptist Association had a rare and wonderful opportunity in furthering international religious relationships. Just before the first of the year, we were called by the International Visitor Leadership Program, under the auspices of the Department of State and asked if we would meet with a number of religious leaders from the country of Moldova (located between Romania and the Ukraine) for a discussion on Religious Freedom and Diversity in the United States.
The meeting was arranged on January 21 in the afternoon at the American Baptist Seminary of the West.
We met with: Andrei Deleu, Head of Secretariat of the Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia; John Miron, General Secretary of the Union of Moldovan Evangelical Baptist Churches; Irina Musuc, Public Relations Secretary of the International Baha’i Community; and Evghenii Sologubenco, President of the Moldova Bible Seminary (and also a Baptist).
Representing PCBA were: Rick Mixon, Vernola Williams, Jim Hopkins, Micky Holmes (who also represented ABSW), and Paul Hardwick.
While the Constitution of Moldova provides for freedom of religion, it appears that in actual practice some religions are more favored than others. For example, our guests spoke of the need to receive government approval for their places of worship.
Our guests also seemed puzzled and interested in why we called ourselves Baptists when we are so committed to the kind of freedom and diversity we practice. They did not understand our acceptance of women clergy or our participation in the ecumenical movement or the Graduate Theological Union.
The conversation was interesting and informative, for all of us. PCBA is grateful to the International Visitor Leadership Program for enabling us to be part of this conversation.
Baptists Lunching Together
The February BLT met on the 3rd at noon at Grand Lake Garden in Oakland. The Rev Sam Chetti, Executive Minister of American Baptist Churches in Los Angeles, was our guest at lunch and spoke at the gathering that followed. He discussed American Baptist life in southern California, including the evolving relationship between his Region and American Baptist Churches of Southern California and Hawaii.
Future BLT dates and speakers:
- Wednesday, March 4 – Dr. Marcia Patton, Executive Minister of the Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches will update us on the ABCUSA restructuring proposal that will be on the agenda at the Biennial in Pasadena as well as our letter expressing interest in becoming an association related to Evergreen.
- Wednesday, April 22 – Dr. James Chuck will speak about his work with the Chinese churches in the Bay Area and their growth.
- EXTRA! – Wednesday, May 20 – We don’t usually have a BLT in May (right after the Spring Conference). Sumner Grant, Executive Director of the MMBB, has offered to meet with us for lunch that day and we are pleased to have this opportunity to meet and talk with him about economics and retirement.
Lunch and programs are at Grand Lake Gardens in Oakland, 401 Santa Clara Avenue at noon, cost: $8.00. For reservations, call Joan Thatcher at 510 350-7008 by noon the Monday before the event.
Annual Spring Conference
The theme for this year’s Spring Conference is: “Sing a New Song.” The focus scripture is Psalm 149. We will look at the ways music shapes our lives and our lives of faith–using a variety of music. There will also be workshops on topics ranging from faithful use of finances to outreach and Bible Study techniques.
This year’s conference will be held at the Shell Ridge Community Church, 200 La Casa Via in Walnut Creek on May 2. The date, as usual, is the first Saturday in May. Brian Dixon and LeAnne Blackert are sharing the planning committee.
American Baptist Biennial
American Baptists will gather in Pasadena for their Biennial meetings from June (25)26-28. The theme for the gathering is These Hands…These Feet.
The program will include action on proposed changes in ABC structure that have been discussed and proposed in recent years.
Churches and pastors should have received a Biennial information booklet the first week in February – check with your church office. For more information, go to the ABCUSA website.
The annual Pastoral Leadership Conference of the American Baptist Seminary of the West will be March 9-11. Theme: Preaching from Generation to Generation, using the biblical story of transition between Elijah and Elisha (II Kings 2:9-14).”
Leadership will include: The Rev. Dr. Henry Mitchell, the Rev. Dr. Mary Hulst, the Rev. Dr James A. Forbes, Jr., and Rev. Elias Castillo. For more information, go to: www.absw.edu.
Black History Month
In the February 2 issue of The New Yorker, David Remnick concludes his commentary on the recent inauguration of Barack Obama as President with this anecdote:
At the luncheon following the swearing-in ceremony, Lewis approached Obama with a commemorative photograph and asked him to sign it. The President wrote, “Because of you, John. Barack Obama.”
In February each year, we remember significant people and moments in Black History, in our communities, our churches, in our personal lives. For each of us, all those significant moments have a ‘because of you’ character.
BPFNA Peace Camp
“Where There Is Justice, then Peace Will Come” is the theme of this year’s Baptist Peace Fellowship Peace Camp.
The exciting news for those of us on the West Coast is this year’s location – Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Ogden is only about 750 miles from the Bay Area.
Dates for Peace Camp are: July 20-25. The Rev. Angela Yarber and the Rev. Greg Ledbetter of the Shell Ridge Community Church have leadership roles at this year’s Peace Camp. Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock from the Bay Area, and author of the recent book, Saving Paradise, will lead Bible Study. Watch the BPFNA website (www.bpfna.org) for more information, or watch your church bulletin board for registration information and schedule.
PCBA ended the year of 2008 with a deficit of just under $ 6,500. While our expenses were slightly under budget, income was less than anticipated. Much of the difference can be attributed to congregations that are shifting some of their mission giving to their deepening relationship with the Evergreen Region. It is a sign of more healthy ABCUSA relationships that the five PCBA churches in Evergreen gave almost $ 34,000 in total American Baptist Mission Support giving in 2008.
We continue to be grateful for the regular gifts and pledges of individuals. Individual support, as well as the gifts from our member congregations, makes up most of our budget. An envelope is enclosed.
Shell Ridge Affirmation
Following more than six month of study and preparation, at its Annual Meeting in January, the Shell Ridge Community voted to accept the following statement:
“Believing that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons have a place in the full life and ministry of the local church, Shell Ridge Community Church votes this day, January 25, 2009, to officially be known as a Welcoming and Affirming congregation.”
The Shell Ridge church becomes the sixth Welcoming and Affirming congregation in our association.
- Both the Rev. Wes Shipp and the Rev. Andy Kille had open heart surgery in December. And both are recovering well. Many thanks to John Wesley Shipp, Wes’ son, for the leadership he is providing at the New Community of Faith during Wes’ recuperation.
- Please keep Katherine Hsiao (wife of Augie Bau) in prayer. While recovering from a mastectomy in November following a diagnosis of breast cancer, she was diagnosed with a form of thyroid cancer and had surgery for that in January. She is scheduled to begin chemotherapy this month.
- Also keep in prayer the Rev. Julia Burns-Robinson. Julia has had two strokes and is currently at the Kaiser Acute Care Center in San Leandro.
- The Rev. James Hopkins is serving as the Chair of the Search Committee at the American Baptist Seminary of the West.
- The Rev. Marcia Patton, Executive Minister of the Evergreen Association continues her recovery following hip replacement surgery.
- Congratulations to The Rev. Tim Phillips, (who provided leadership for our 2007 Spring Conference), has been called to be the Lead Pastor at the First Baptist Church of Seattle, beginning on February 1.