At the September 21, 2004 meeting, our Senator, Micky Holmes, reported on the meeting of the Ministers Council Senate in August. Following the report are some links to further information on the national Ministers Council website.
Press Release of the Minister's Council Senate 2004
The Minister's Council Senate meeting for 2004 was an opportunity to reconnect will old friends, make new ones, and wrestle with the continued challenges that variety of thought and belief brings. The theme of this year's Senate gathering was Jeremiah 24:6,1 will set my eyes upon the Lord for good, and I will bring them back to this land. 1 will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up.
A call to togetherness was a common thread in the messages brought in worship and general gatherings. Rev. Karen Yee, associate pastor at the First Baptist Church of Alameda led opening worship with a call for the Senate, the Minister's Council as a whole, and the entire denomination to "humbly and gratefully live and interact with each other as God's redeemed." This sentiment was echoed by Senate President Dr. Joe Cutter, Rev. Souci Familiaran Grimsley, Rev. Valentine Royal-Thomas and Executive Director Rev. Kate Harvey in their messages.
Our Senate president, Dr. Joe Cutter, presided over this years meetings, which included a proposed amendment to the Minister's Council constitution which would require American Baptist ministers to "maintain sexual integrity consistent with the teaching of scripture that sexual intimacy is to be experienced between a man and a woman committed to each other in marriage." Per the bylaws of the minister's council senate, this proposed amendment will be voted on the 2005 senate meetings. Dr. Cutter made available opportunity for discussion on this and other topics during business session open times.
Also presented was a proposal to request the General Secretary and the President of ABC USA to form a commission in the model of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 that would promote official dialogue regarding homosexuality as it relates to our denomination, "The question is how can we be a family together?" said Dr. Cutter. "We need to not only think about a theology of homosexuality and scriptural authority. We need to think about a theology of Christian community. We need our denomination to think about that." There was much debate on these issues. All debates were conducted respectfully and cordially.
The Denominational Relationships Committee will create the process of responding to the proposed amendment on homosexuality. This process will include regional meetings which will include scripture, testimony and prayer. All dues paying members will be able to respond to the issue in writing. Furthermore, the ministers council will call for an official season of prayer and fasting. Lastly, the committee will continue to provide resources for bi-vocational ministers as well as celebrate ordinations, anniversaries, and other noteworthy occasions via the Website and E-zine.
The Committee on Membership and Constituency will continue to assist leaders of local constituencies with general senate information. Regional executives will be provided updated template letter encouraging local churches to budget in Minister's Council dues. At the next biennial, they will provide buttons supporting the council and Together in Ministry (TIM) Almost a year into the TIM initiative, personal stories were shared by those who have formed and participated in TIM Groups. Currently there are 132 groups. Applications for new groups in 2005 are due by October 31, 2004.
The main goal of the Communications committee was to develop a comprehensive database which includes an e-mail list. The Website will undergo a major overhaul and Minister Magazine will convert to an electronic format. The Committee on Spiritual and Personal Wholeness discussed ways of creating and assisting smoother transitions for outgoing and incoming pastors. Also, for the first time at a Senate meeting, this committee organized a prayer room.
The Profession Effectiveness Committee is developing a case study teaching tool, regarding the code of ethics, with a resources list which will be available at the 2005 Senate meeting. Our agenda for the 2005 is to address "Accountability" in regard to the code of ethics. The committee plans to produce the results of a survey of our regions to discover how each region presently handles accountability.
In the Executive Director's report, Dr. Kate Harvey called for continued healthy dialogue on all issues with the end goal of arming the oneness of the body of Christ even in the midst of differences. "The Mission of Jesus Christ is lost if all the world sees is a bunch of squabblers. The enemy is not our sister and brothers, no matter how differently they see their certifiably correct view. The enemy is evil. The Goal is for the reign of God to be realized so that some day the world will see with their own eyes the grace of God together." Rev. Harvey highlighted minister's Council accomplishments in the past year including New resources available at www.ministerscouncil.org, Strong in the Lord conference which gathered more than 500 ministerial leaders, TIM groups garnering more than 2000 participants, and the transition of the council from the from Board of Educational ministries to the Office of the General Secretary.