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American Baptist Churches in the USA

  Our Commitment to the Bible

We Are Guided by God’s Word Foremost among beliefs firmly held by American Baptists is the acknowledgment that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and our Lord, and that through belief in Him we are assured of eternal fellowship with a loving God. For us, the foundation of Christian belief–and the greatest event in all history–is the drama of the first Easter week: the death of  Christ, in which He took upon Himself all the sins of the world, and the Resurrection, which offers glorious proof of His teaching and His triumph over sin and death.

Holy Scripture always has been for us the most authoritative guide to knowing and serving the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer). As the divinely-inspired word of God, the Bible for us reveals our faith and its mandated practice.

  Commitment to the Local Church:

We American Baptists passionately celebrate our churches. We exist as a denomination to serve those nearly 5,800 congregations, to provide them
with resources that enable them to minister effectively.

Generation after generation of believers has seen the local church as a tremendous source of  immeasurable spiritual strength: preaching that
inspires, education that enlightens, worship that draws one closer to God, fellowship that encourages respect and service. The church at its best is an
exemplary community of faith, a home for individuals to express, and mature in, their relationship to God and to one another.

  • Autonomy and Interdependence
  • Inclusiveness and Church Growth
  • Regional and National Support

  Mission:

“Mission” is a wide-ranging concept. It implies all the varied work we undertake as individuals, churches and organizations in applying our faith and in sharing the Gospel message with others. Mission is an awesome invitation and responsibility, and an endeavor that can never be exhausted.
We undertake it realizing that only with God’s help can the immense task of Christian mission be accomplished.

The local congregations and regional and national organizations that form our denominational family see opportunities for mission every day, and we live out ministries in the name of Christ with many people in many places.

Prominent among them are:

  •     Evangelism
  •     Leader Development
  •     Ministries of Healing
  •     Ministries that Seek Justice
  •     Ministries to Families, Children and Youth

Service to our Local Churches:

Our churches are at the forefront of mission in the name of Christ. A denomination exists, however, not merely to offer those churches a sense of family, but also to provide them with the resources to do much more than they could do on their own.
  • ABCUSA
  • American Baptist Home Mission Societies
  • American Baptist Regional Ministries
  • International Ministries
  • Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board

Evangelism

Evangelism is the joyous witness of the People of God to the redeeming love of God urging all to repent and to be reconciled to God and each other through faith in Jesus Christ who lived, died, and was raised from the dead, so that being made new and empowered by the Holy Spirit believers are incorporated as disciples into the church for worship, fellowship, nurture and engagement in God’s mission of evangelization and liberation within society and creation, signifying the Kingdom which is present and yet to come.
 
In 1984, the General Board of American Baptist Churches USA issued a call “for a vigorous denominational program of evangelization”–a “joyous witness” that brings believers “into the church for worship, fellowship, nurture and engagement in God’s mission.”

Evangelism is a challenge and an opportunity. Even after 2,000 years of Christian ministry, tens of millions of  persons throughout the world have not yet heard the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. The world is as much a mission field “ripe unto harvest” now as it was when Christ sent forth his earliest followers to  reconcile a fallen creation to its Creator. Evangelism is the mission of sharing Christ and the truths He proclaimed with people who need to receive them.

And among those who have heard the Gospel message, there still is much to be done. While sixout of seven  adults in the United States claim to be Christians, only four in ten of those same adults can be found in church pews on any given Sunday. National surveys on biblical literacy continue to reveal a disturbing ignorance of basic Christian beliefs among many adults and youth.

The women, men and youth in congregations that accept God’s call to be inviting people are led to share with others how Christ has changed them and what Christ offers to everyone. Evangelism takes place at home, at school, at work, and in neighborhoods through door-to-door visitation. This personal sharing of our faith is the most important way American Baptists tell others about Christ. Preaching and teaching also are essential forms of evangelism taking place in our churches as well as in thousands of American Baptist-related schools, hospitals, community centers, camps, retirement homes and other institutions in the United States and around the globe.

While evangelism is done by individuals and single congregations, American Baptist regional and national mission boards are important resources in the endeavor. Each of the denomination’s 34 regions offers evangelism workshops and other training in the art of winning persons to Christ. The American Baptist Evangelism Team and American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ Office of Evangelism develop strategies to help persons share their faith. Denominational evangelism programs have included ABC-Find, which seeks to find ABC church homes for American Baptists who move, and Inviting New Neighbors, which helps churches use local newspapers, advertisements and other media to invite persons to worship with them. Regional Christian education workshop teach Christians how to teach others about Jesus Christ.

For American Baptists, evangelism is a worldwide endeavor. Overseas, American Baptis missionaries and volunteers aid in evangelistic efforts and support the work of evangelists ministering in their own countries.

Resources for evangelism have strengthened the effectiveness of that outreach. In 1824, American Baptists founded  a publication society to produce books, tracts, and Sunday school curricula to spread the Good News about Christ.
Educational Ministries, through Judson Press and a variety of biblically-oriented curricula, continues in this evangelical and educational tradition.

Our Identity Statement (June 1998 version)

“We Are American Baptists” (revised 6/19/98)

American Baptists worship the triune God of the Bible, who is eternally one God in three persons. This one, true God is most clearly revealed to us in the incarnate Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

American Baptists proclaim the Good News of the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, knowing  that salvation (forgiveness of sins, release from guilt and condemnation, reconciliation with God) and eternal life are granted in grace to all who trust Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. This Gospel is the central message of the Bible.

American Baptists believe that the Bible, composed of the Old and New Testaments, is the divinely inspired Word of God, the final written authority and trustworthy for faith and practice. It is to be interpreted responsibly under the guidance of the Holy Spirit within the community of faith. The primary purpose of the Bible is to point to Jesus Christ, the living Lord of the Church.

Although Baptists have produced numerous confessions to express our common understandings of Christian faith, we hold the Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, as our final authority. We accept no humanly devised confession or creed as binding.

American Baptists affirm that God is sovereign over all and that this sovereignty is expressed and realized through Jesus Christ. Therefore, we affirm the Lordship of Christ over the world and the church. We joyously confess that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord.

We are called in loyalty to Jesus Christ to proclaim the power of the Holy Spirit, the Good News of God’s reconciling grace, and to declare the saving power of the Gospel to every human being and to every human institution. We celebrate Christ’s charge to “make disciples of all nations”  and to bear witness to God’s redeeming reign in human affairs.

American Baptists are summoned to this mission in common with all Christians. With the whole body of Christ, we also believe that God has been revealed in Jesus Christ as in no other, and that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (II Corinthians 5:18). We anticipate the day when every creature and all creation, on earth and beyond, will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

God has given this particular community of believers called Baptists a distinctive history and experience. As we share in common with Christians everywhere, so Baptists everywhere celebrate a common heritage.

THEREFORE…
With Baptist brothers and sisters around the world, we believe:


That the Bible is the final authority and trustworthy for faith and practice. It is to be interpreted responsibly under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit within the community of faith;
That the Church is a gathered fellowship of regenerated believers, a sign of the coming universal reign of God;
That the freedom to respond to the Lordship of Christ in all circumstances is fundamental to the Christian gospel and to human dignity; and
That witness to Christ is the ongoing task of every Christian and of every church.
Within the larger Baptist family, American Baptists emphasize convictions which direct our special task and ministry.

We affirm that God through Jesus Christ calls us to be:

A Redeemed People:

who claim a personal relationship to God through Jesus Christ;
who follow the Lord in believer’s baptism;
who gather as a believer’s church;
who share in the meal of the kingdom known as the Lord’s Supper;
who honor the priesthood of all believers; and
who live their faith as visible saints.

A Biblical People:

who affirm the centrality of Scripture in our lives;
who pursue the study of God’s inspired Word as a mandate forfaith and practice; and :
who seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit for the understanding of Scripture,
while respecting thecommon interpretation of Scripture within the community of believers.

A Worshiping People:


who gather regularly to praise God;
who receive nourishment by communion with the Risen Christ;
who share an open and public confession of faith; and
who believe that personal devotion brings vitality to corporate celebration.

A Mission People:

who strive to fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples;
who invite persons to receive salvation and follow Christ;
who engage in educational, social, and health ministries;
who seek justice for all persons; and
who provide prayer and financial support to sustain a worldwide mission outreach.

An Interdependent People:

who affirm the Church’s unity as given in Jesus Christ;
who gladly embody in our practice the ministry of the whole people of God;
who recognize God’s gifts for ministry and honor all offices of pastoral ministry;
who live and work together “in association;” and
who bring the free church tradition to cooperative and ecumenical Christianity.

A Caring People:

who care for the needy, the weak, and the oppressed;
who care for the earth and for all its creatures;

An Inclusive People:

who, gifted by a variety of backgrounds, find unity in diversity and diversity in unity;
who embrace a pluralism of race, ethnicity, and gender; and
who acknowledge that there are individual differences of conviction and theology.

A Contemporary People:

who have a remembrance for the past and a vision for the future;
who are committed to religious liberty and to the separation of church and state;
who call our present world to make Jesus Christ Lord of all life; and
who trust the Holy Spirit for insight and power to live in the present age.

We further believe:

That God has called us forth to such an hour as this;
That we live with a realizable hope;
That all things are held together in Christ;
That all creation will find its ultimate fulfillment in God;
That we shall see the One whose we are; and
That Jesus shall reign for ever and ever

Please view the complete statement at:
http://www.abc-usa.org/what_we_believe/
website: http://www.abc-usa.org/



Our American Flag Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. Psalm 33:12

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