Mary Armacost Hulst
ABCUSA Vice President
As the major policy-making body of the denomination, the General Board is highly representative of American Baptist diversity in gender, ethnicity, geography, age, as well as in a balance of ordained and lay leaders. It addresses business and polity. Through policy statements, resolutions and other declarations, it offers its best wisdom to autonomous churches and individuals on issues of faith and practice as it discerns the mind of Christ. While General Board decisions give direction to national staff, they in no way obligate American Baptist congregations or regions to any position or course of action. The complete texts of General Board policy statements, resolutions and other statements are available on the American Baptist Churches on this web site under Leadership/Research and Reports.
The General Board also plays an important role in mission planning and coordination. The General Board hears reports from Program Boards to coordinate planning and carry out denominational envisioning. It also plans the Biennial through its Biennial Program Committee.
How the General Board conducts its' work:
The General Board conducts its business as “Worshipful Work,” which is a style of operating as church bodies doing business which places Jesus Christ as the Head of the Body at the center of its work. In Worshipful Work, scriptural themes underlie the work, and are often cited. The agenda is arranged in ways to highlight the Worshipful nature of our work. Worship Services are frequent, and scripture and prayer are offered repeatedly throughout the meeting. Members are invited to share in reminding the General Board of a scripture that certain business may bring to mind, or a prayer that is needed. Whenever possible, consensus is used as a means of conducting business. The General Board has a Chaplain who not only provides personal support to General Board and staff members who may come to meetings with a particular need, but takes the “temperature” of the meetings and interjects scriptural and spiritual reminders when s(he) detects that this intervention may be needed. In these and other ways, we seek to honor Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior throughout the work of the General Board. The goal is for both our process and our decisions to honor Jesus Christ and build up the Body. In Worshipful Work, we seek to discernGod’syearning in a particular situation or for a particular issue.
At New General Board Orientation, the style of Worshipful Work is highlighted so that General Board members are encouraged from the beginning of their service to actively participate in shaping the agenda as Worshipful Work, an offering of ourselves to Christ as opposed to a secular business model. Churches in their business meetings, as well as Regions and National bodies, can use Worshipful Work to conduct business.
How the General Board is elected:
Three-fourths of General Board representatives are nominated by the 35 American Baptist regions, and elected at the regions’ annual or biennial meetings. Each region fulfills a plan of its own design that assures diversity, balance and geographical representation. One-fourth of General Board representatives are selected by the American Baptist Churches USA Nominating Committee and are elected by the regions; these representatives are chosen to provide optimal balance in the Board, especially in identifying specialized skills that will aid the Board’s work.