Jessica Abell Ordained at First Baptist, Denver

LayingOnOfHands
Rev. Tripp Hudgins preached the sermon, "Mountaintop Quandary."
Rev. Tripp Hudgins preached the sermon, “Mountaintop Quandary.”

Rev. Jessica Abell was ordained on Sunday, March 1, 2015 at First Baptist Church, Denver, CO. FBCD is a member of the Evergreen Region of the American Baptist Churches, USA. Dr. Brian Henderson is their pastor. Rev. Abell has been serving as a ministerial associate for a year and will continue in her role. She is also a graduate of Church Divinity School of The Pacific, a member school of the Graduate Theological Union. Executive Minister of the Evergreen Region, Dr. Marcia Patton was present to confer the charge to the congregation and to witness the certification of Rev. Abell’s ordination to the Baptist ministry.

Our own Director of Admissions, Rev. Tripp Hudgins, was the preacher. You can read the full sermon here. This was his charge.

Be an extremist for Love.
Proclaim liberation to the captives
and the captors.
Live. Learn.
Join the throng in Denver
and Ferguson who are
Standing before the burning bush.
Stand on the mountain top
and in the intersection
and breathe deep with them, my friend.
Learn how to sing again. Retool. Create.
You will need to catch your breath,
take your time,
for it is the long game of God
that we call ministry.
Take courage. Be humble.
You will not see the end of it.
But you can participate
in God’s work in us.
You can call us
to God’s liberation.
Some will join you.
Some will not.
Some will even respond
violently to the call of liberation.
But you still must stand
for the ground you stand on
is holy. And you are
not alone. We are with you.

Rev. Abell is the first woman to be ordained by the congregation in FBC’s 150 year history.

Rev. Abell is presented with her certificate. Pictured here, left to right: Some Guy, Church Moderator; Dr. Brian Henderson, Pastor; Rev. Jessica Abell; Thomas Giles, Jessica's husband
Rev. Abell is presented with her certificate. Pictured here, left to right: Adam McGowen, Church Moderator; Dr. Brian Henderson, Pastor; Rev. Jessica Abell; and Thomas Giles, Jessica’s husband

An Invitation to Remember

In celebration of U.S. Women’s History Month 2015, the ABSW community is invited to remember and to honor the African American Christian Women presented here. Collectively, their lives establish a historical trajectory stretching from 1783 to 1964, but until fairly recently these and countless other African American women have not received the recognition they deserve for their extraordinary contributions in charting the course of U.S. history.

Jarena Lee. 1783 – 1849
Jarena Lee was the first woman known to petition the African Methodist Episcopal Church “to be permitted the liberty of holding prayer meetings in my own hired house, and of exhorting as I found liberty,” a request granted in 1819 by Bishop Richard Allen.

Sojourner Truth. 1797 – 1883
Before the Civil War, Sojourner Truth was a feminist abolitionist and afterwards a tireless worker in providing relief and job placement to freed people.

Maria W. Stewart. 1803 – 1879
Maria Stewart, a woman of profound religious faith, a pioneer black abolitionist, and a defiant champion of women’s rights, was the first American woman to lecture in public on political themes and leave extant copies of her texts.

Harriet Jacobs. 1813 – 1897
Harriet Jacobs authored the most important slave narrative by an African American woman, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written By Herself (published in 1861).

Harriet Tubman. 1820 – 1913
Rooted in and guided by her deep spiritual faith, Harriet Tubman escaped her slave owner in 1849 and by 1854 had become an indispensable figure in the abolitionist and Underground Railroad networks of Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. 1825 – 1911
An extraordinarily gifted, prolific American literary figure, Harper was also a compelling abolitionist lecturer, staunch supporter of the Underground Railroad, and a founder of the American Woman Suffrage Association (1866) and of the National Association of Colored Women (1898). She was on the national board of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), published extensively in the Christian Recorder and appears in Bishop Daniel Payne’s 1891 History of the AME Church.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett. 1862 – 1931
Utilizing her journalistic pen and a tireless activism, Wells-Barnett fearlessly devoted her life to the cause of justice for African Americans. Born into slavery in Mississippi, in 1879 she moved to Memphis where she taught school and edited the newspaper, Free Speech and Headlight. Her sustained campaign against lynching led to her 1892 investigative report, “Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases” and to both national and international speaking tours.

Anna Julia Cooper. 1858 – 1964
A scholar, public school teacher, social activist and author, Cooper is best known for her book A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South (1892). In 1914, she studied at Columbia University (New York), and in 1925 earned a doctorate from the Sorbonne (Paris). In 1930 she became president of the Frelinghuysen Group of Schools for Employed Colored Persons (Washington, DC). During her long lifetime Cooper continuously articulated and refined her analysis of two insights: that oppressive social power is a global structure and that those most severely affected are the world’s women of color.

Dr. Margaret McManus
Associate Professor of History and Theology

What We’re Singing: Second Sunday of Lent

What we’re singing at First Baptist Church of Berkeley this Sunday
Second Sunday in the Season of Lent (theme for Lent: “Lifting Up Our Souls”)

Opening Hymn: “How Deep the Silence of the Soul”
(words: Sylvia Dunstan, 1989; tune: resignation, traditional American tune)

How deep the silence of the soul that lives within your grace.
How full the gratitude of heart in your abiding place.
What rich serenity is found, what courage and release
when wisdom teaches us to seek the gentle path to peace.

Following the Prayer of invocation and Confession, we sing these Words of Assurance (by James E. Moore, Jr.):

Taste and see, taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Psalm of the Day: No. 22:23-31, with sung response “Taste and see …”

Gospel text, Mark 8:31–38 (”All who want to come after me must take up their cross and follow me.”)

Hymn in response to the preached message: “You Call Us, Lord”
(words: Jane Marshall, 1992; tune: rhosymedre, John David Edwards, 1840)

Stanzas 1 and 3:

You call us, Lord, to be a people set apart,
to feel with thoughtful mind and think with tender heart.
Thus chosen, now, O Lord, we ask for faith in your unfailing grace
to make us equal to the task.

You call us, Lord, to be good stewards of the earth;
to tend it as a place of blessedness and worth.
Thus chosen, now, O Lord, we ask for faith in your unfailing grace
to make us equal to the task.

Hymn of Dedication: “Friends in Faith”
(words: Delores Dufner, 1993; tune: restoration, Southern Harmony, 1835)

Friends in faith who follow Jesus, hear the message of the cross:
Worldly wisdom now is folly; worldly riches count as loss.

Call to Communion: “Taste and See”

Hymn for the Lenten Journey: “Go Walk with God in All You Do”
(words: Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, 2004; tune tallis canon, Thomas Tallis, c. 1567)

Go walk with God in all you do, and may God’s love bring joy to you.
May gifts of peace fill all your days, and may God’s truth guide you always.

FBC Berkeley worships at 10:00 am every Sunday in Crouch Classroom, Hobart Hall, on the ABSW campus. Rev. Dr. Nancy E. Hall (ABSW faculty) is the pastor. Our preacher this Sunday is Minister Sharon Allen. Come sing with us! We are a Welcoming and Affirming congregation for the LGBTQ community.

Using social media while pastoring

ABSW:

Over the past few years, I have watched as colleagues embrace
social media, using it for support and important conversations, as well as to communicate with congregations, do education and even find ways to worship on-line. So many things that are happening on social media (and the internet) are enhancing how we care for and communicate with our congregations and the church at large.

Originally posted on Feet in, Arms out:

all the devices Pastoring using all of the devices. There is a super modern fax machine just off screen.

I first started using Facebook while I was a youth director. It was a wonderful way to keep up with what my students were up to. I could learn about the joys and sorrows of their lives and dispense advice like, “You probably shouldn’t post pictures of you chugging a handle of vodka where everyone can see it. Also, you probably shouldn’t be chugging a handle of vodka. Let’s talk.” I knew when break-ups happened, who had events coming up, and could organize and disseminate information in an easy to use platform. Then it became a great way to keep up with the friends I have all over the country, sharing our joys and sorrows and keeping up on one another’s lives. Now everyone seems to be on it, at least everyone my age…

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Sacred Lessons in Resistance

Black History Month arrives as a difficult reminder that core ethics of human equality espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King in his DREAM, and called for in the BIBLE, still have not been realized! From Ferguson to Queens to Cleveland to Berkeley, streets are filled with young, angry black protesters joined by brown, white sisters and brothers compelled to mobilize resistance against increased militaristic behavior of police, against loopholes in legal systems, and against a pervasive societal ideology of ‘othering’ that marginalizes based on race, class, sexuality, and faith tradition. These national resistance movements expose this country’s systemic structures of discrimination.

In his provocative 2011book – Punished: Policing the Lives of Black & Latino Boys, Victor Rios’ ethnographic study revealed that poor inner-city kids are targeted, stereotyped, and falsely accused from grade school until anger at such demoralization become self-fulfilling prophecy – demons that provoke bad choices and fuel society’s fear. In reality, by Michael Brown’s age, embedded suspicion of law enforcement, regulatory systems, and a life of economic disparities result in tensions that almost are insurmountable. Across our nation, the land of the free and the brave is far the promise land of human equality–WE’RE NOT THERE YET! Killings increased exponentially since the 2012 assassination of Oscar Grant and the vigilante killing of Trayvon Martin. Albeit marred by violent outbreaks, the clamor for justice drew clergy leaders and people of faith to join in overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations of RESISTANCE. They invoked God’s will to resist injustice, amplified by chants and prayers that sustained a call for SACRED RESISTANCE.

Crucial for our self-reflection is to recognize that this landscape of unrest and tension between those with power and those unduly burdened is not a new phenomenon. We are reminded that righteous indignation and RESISTANCE are Biblical. Jesus knew what it felt like to be ‘othered’ – the Nazarene rejected and critiqued for speaking hope into lives of prostitutes, robbers, demoniacs, invalids, and tax collectors. The Messiah proclaimed his prophetic purpose to “ bring good news to the poor, proclaim release of the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free”- words in direct resistance to Roman imperial occupation and a Jerusalem power structure designed to maintain the status quo. Jesus spoke against undue burden on impoverished and powerless masses under militaristic enforcement. All the Gospels report SACRED LESSONS in RESISTANCE and mode of leadership development: anointing disciples with sacred authority over unclean spirits to cast out evil; teaching with sacred power to speak life into broken spirits; and taking action to change lives.

The first sacred lesson of resistance was to SHAKE IT OFF and keep moving! “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town”… The act of dust-shaking is the first century parallel to a 21st century act of protest; it is an externalization of a reality of hardened hearts in folks intent to preserve a status quo or afraid to push for change! Jesus’ taught such action was sacramental – revealing or manifesting a spiritual reality that ALL won’t accept the truth that the Kingdom of heaven had come near. The disciples were to mobilize a message of sacred justice and deliverance anyhow and, if rejected by folks, have nothing else to do with them, not even to carry the dirt and grime of close-mindedness any further… BUT SHAKE IT OFF! That very physical action was sacred resistance – Racism, classism, sexism – forms of rejection that ignore God’s love for ALL creation – SHAKE IT OFF!

The second lesson of sacred resistance was to recognize the socio-political landscape aims to silence. “See I’m sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves…Beware of them for they will hand you over to councils, flog you… persecute you… and put you to death.” Today’s context is: we might be outnumbered but not outwitted. They will beat you with billy clubs, use tear gas, media-manage your story, while DAs and Grand juries acquit their own in ridicule of you! Is it any wonder that young people of color across the nation reject sound bites and political propaganda that say we live in a post-racial society, while overt and subtle discrimination confront them daily? Is it any wonder that some are disillusioned by silence of the church universal until MSNBC AND CNN cameras appear – and as the ragtag rebels caught national attention, then celebrity clergy arrived with rules and caste systems of who “qualifies” for screen time. Jesus said to be wise as serpents – organize, rally, discern true agendas as you proceed gentle as doves!

Jesus knew that principalities and powers did not WANT change that transformed lives – especially sacred change for those so long oppressed, blinded, and imprisoned in systems of disparity. He knew that his words and deeds led to hateful persecution on the Cross; yet, his third lesson assures us that the POWER IN US is greater than any power that opposes us! “When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time: for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you!“ Today, as young disciples strategize and pray, clergy colleagues first-hand in Ferguson, New York, and Berkeley affirm that an abiding power of Holy Spirit anointing is evident when young and old courageously assemble and march.

RESISTANCE to injustice is a necessary action and sacred right… No municipality can stop or silence so many voices. Our foremothers and forefathers in Selma and Montgomery believed the sacred message cannot be quelled: ALL are created in God’s image! ALL lives Matter! Black Lives Matter, Asian Lives, Latino Lives, Muslim Lives – ALL Lives Matter! So today, young disciples still ask: Will we go together with divine authority from community to town to city proclaiming sacredness of life for the least and left-out? Do we still have faith to cast out demons of ‘isms’? As 21st Century disciples, will we challenge normative systems of privilege and share the prophetic message of One who was NOT? Sacred resistance shouts GOD’S demands for JUSTICE. It disrupts routines and sacrifices comfort. It respects and dignifies those different and diverse, yet in whom sacred breath of the Creator flows! To resist injustice, WIPE THE DUST OFF our FEET – and keep moving!

Rev. Dr. Valerie Miles-Tribble  is Assistant Professor of Ministerial Leadership and Functional Theology at American Baptist Seminary of The West. A womanist theologian, she is also a consulting leader in the PICO National Prophetic Clergy-Women Network.

Columbia Named Among 2015 “Seminaries that Change the World”

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ABSW:

We love this kind of news about seminaries. Keep up the great work!

Originally posted on Columbia Connections:

The Center for Faith and Service today announced the 2015 list of Seminaries that Change the World.  This year, Columbia Theological Seminary was one of twenty-six institutions named. The group of institutions is theologically, politically and geographically diverse, yet shares a common commitment to work together to strengthen and advance theological insight and leadership in a way that connects faith and service.

The selected seminaries and divinity schools demonstrate great innovation in theological education, in integration with classical approaches for learning, even as they navigate negative stereotypes about organized religion and work to expand narrow definitions of traditional ministry.  Seminaries that Change the World is part of a movement to reclaim the important historical role that theological education has played in promoting community and justice while training and launching local and world leaders in all areas of society.

“The very title, Seminaries that Change the World, is a provocative reminder of what…

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What We’re Singing: First Sunday of Lent

What we’re singing at First Baptist Church of Berkeley this Sunday
First Sunday in the Season of Lent (theme for Lent: “Lifting Up Our Souls”)

 

Opening Hymn: “How Deep the Silence of the Soul”

(words: Sylvia Dunstan, 1989; tune: resignation, traditional American tune)

Third stanza (written by Nancy Hall):

O God, we lift our souls to you; may we be still and know
that you are holy, just, and wise; to you our praise we owe.
Within this season may we find, while walking in Christ’s way,
the paths where love and grace are found; then guide us now, we pray.

 

Following the Prayer of invocation and Confession, we sing these words of assurance (Taizé chant):

Bless the Lord, my soul, and bless God’s holy name.
Bless the Lord, my soul, who leads us into life.

 Psalm of the Day: No. 25:1-10, with sung response “Bless the Lord, my soul…”

Gospel text, Luke 4:1–13 (Jesus is led by the Spirit into a forty-day desert wilderness journey)

Hymn in response to the preached message: “When We Are Tested”
(words: Ruth Duck, 1996; tune: slane, Ancient Irish melody)

Stanzas 1 and 4:

When we are tested and wrestle alone,
famished for bread when the world offers stone,
nourish us, God, by your word and your way,
food that sustains us by night and by day.

When we have struggled and searched through the night,
sorting and sifting the wrong from the right,
Savior, surround us with circles of care,
angels of healing, of hope, and of prayer.

 Hymn of Prayer: “I Surrender All”
(words: Judson W. VanDeVenter, 1896; tune: surrender, Winfield S. Weeden, 1896)

Hymn for the Lenten Journey: “Go Walk with God in All You Do”
(words: Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, 2004; tune tallis canon, Thomas Tallis, c. 1567)

Go walk with God in all you do, and may God’s love bring joy to you.
May gifts of peace fill all your days, and may God’s truth guide you always.

 

FBC Berkeley worships at 10:00 am every Sunday in Crouch Classroom, Hobart Hall, on the ABSW campus. Rev. Dr. Nancy E. Hall (ABSW faculty) is the pastor. Our preacher this Sunday is Pastor Hall. Come sing with us! We are a Welcoming and Affirming congregation for the LGBTQ community.