2017 Biennial Mission Summit

June 30 – July 2, 2017

Reserve the dates and Join us for the 2017 Biennial Mission Summit

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Equipping Congregations to Fulfill Their Unique Mission

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We Gather To Talk About What God Wants Us to Do

Rev. Steve Bils Explains the Importance of the Biennial

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The Stories

As American Baptists, we serve as the hands and feet of Christ. We’re doing what we can to heal a hurting world. This means feeding the hungry; empowering pastors, lay leaders & youth to spread Christ’s love; protecting the environment; promoting Christian unity and more.

United Mission is the vehicle that makes this happen. United Mission is the simple, efficient way American Baptists pool financial resources to maximize the amount of good we can do. These funds are used to connect resources with needs, resulting in meaningful change – and it’s all for God’s greater glory!

We believe God is pleased when God’s people send a message of unity to the world. United Mission engages us in ministry with people and purposes we would never know if we merely ‘shopped around’ on our own for good causes. We believe God has goals for us beyond our own awareness. United Mission is a healthy way to support the work of the Kingdom.”

– Allen Reasons
Pastor, Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, Huntington, WV

Stories

Christian Unity

United Mission Promotes Christian Unity

Our region is now home to a large immigrant community. Our congregation is small, but we still wanted to be of service to these people. Thanks, in part, to United Mission funding, we were able to partner with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration to create the Center Latino. There, we work together in partnership to provide a safe place for the Latino/Latina community to learn English, access computers, address immigration issues, and successfully integrate into the larger local community.


United Mission Is The Vehicle

United Mission helps us work together in ecumenical harmony to accomplish God’s work. The vital services provided by the Center Latino are funded in part by United Mission, helping us serve as the hands and feet of Christ.

timothy-ashley
This is a personal story from Pastor Timm Ashley, ABC of Wisconsin

What Else Does United Mission Do?

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Ensures American Baptists are Present in the World

Our congregation appreciates how United Mission enables the American Baptists to be a visible and active participant on the world stage. It is through United Mission support that our churches are represented at the Baptist World Alliance, on the Baptist Joint Committee, World Relief, and other Ecumenical and Interfaith Ministries. It’s important that we’re part of these larger conversations as we move forward with our work of serving as the hands and feet of Christ.

United Mission Is The Vehicle

Support for United Mission makes possible multi-faceted opportunities for American Baptists to be engaged in leadership roles and in conversations on significant church issues on national and international levels. These broad ministries are too big a job for any one congregation to take on. Working together through United Mission, we can be represented at the table.

This is a personal story from Rev Johnathan Malone, ABC of Rhode Island

What Else Does United Mission Do?

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Expands Our Vision

When I was growing up in the Northern Baptist church, every missionary who came around would tell us what their ministry was. We’d hear about the Agricultural Mission, for example, and so we’d support that. But we didn’t hear about every project the church was involved in. United Mission is an educational resource. It expands our vision by letting us know the full range of work American Baptists are involved in as we work to serve as the hands and feet of Christ.

United Mission allows our church to work together as a family. This builds a level of trust among us. We know that everyone’s concerns are being heard, and that through our process, we can act to make sure everyone’s needs are addressed.

United Mission Is The Vehicle

United Mission helps American Baptists know about ministries that occur outside of their own home church. We’re a diverse group who knows how to work together. United Mission allows us to work on a greater scope and do a greater amount of good than any one church could do alone.

Everett-Curry
This is a personal story from Pastor Everett Curry, ABC of Central Pacific Coast

What Else Does United Mission Do?

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Faith In Action

United Mission is the Way American Baptists Show Their Faith In Action

We were in a position where we didn’t have a pastor. Being a small church limited us financially. Through the help of United Mission, we were able to hire a pastoral consultant who worked with us as we created a Ministry Committee, which equipped various congregation members to serve in vital leadership roles. One of us would become the pastor we needed. After working with us for a while, the consultant said, “Judy, that pastor should be you.”

At first, my jaw dropped. But I received tremendous support, through United Mission and the larger American Baptist community, to pursue my education and make it happen. I said, “I’ll try this for a year.” It’s been ten years now.

United Mission Is The Vehicle

Because we have had such support from ABC Wisconsin and United Mission, we’ve been able to have a place for the Chinese community in Milwaukee to worship for over 50 years.

judy-king
This is a personal story from Reverend Judy King, ABC of Wisconsin

What Else Does United Mission Do?

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Helping Churches Thrive

United Mission Helps Emerging Churches Thrive

Our church began as a Mission Church. We were a congregation of immigrants, who needed a place to worship. In those early days, we had absolutely no resources. We met in other churches, on Sunday afternoon, after they’d had their weekly services. A missionary served as our Pastor – we couldn’t pay her, so ABC Wisconsin did. If it wasn’t for their support, this church wouldn’t be here today.

United Mission Is The Vehicle

Today, our support of United Mission is rooted in a deep feeling of gratitude. It’s due to the generosity of others that our church is here at all.

judy-king
This is a personal story from Reverend Judy King, ABC of Wisconsin

What Else Does United Mission Do?

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Helping Young People Know Jesus

Rhode Island is such a small state. The size makes it really obvious to see United Mission’s impact through Regional Ministries. The work of United Mission can be seen especially in Youth Ministries and the Camping Program. Every year, there’s a local camp where children can spend a week, really getting to know Jesus and deepening their faith. The total cost of the camping program far exceeds what families could be asked to pay: United Mission picks up the rest, making a truly life-changing faith experience possible for American Baptist youth.

United Mission Is The Vehicle

Supporting American Baptist youth and helping them grow in their faith is a vital part of United Mission’s purpose. Through camp programs, conferences, and youth and children’s ministries, your support of United Mission helps prepare the next generation to live meaningful, faith-filled lives.

This is a personal story from Rev Johnathan Malone, ABC of Rhode Island

What Else Does United Mission Do?

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Holds the Kite Strings

In our congregation, we have mentioned that sending missionaries throughout the world as well as reaching local ministries here in Rhode Island is like sending out many different kites. Someone needs to hold the kite strings. United Mission administers and oversees the many ministries in which our American Baptist family is involved.
We cannot do everything, but everyone can do something. When we give through United Mission, we know that the money goes to the vital ministries of our denominational family. They hold the kite strings, so the wind doesn’t blow our collective efforts away. This role United Mission plays is vital and also the reason the overhead is very small.

United Mission Is The Vehicle

United Mission’s administrative role behind the scenes enables American Baptists to engage in multiple ministries, both here in the United States and all around the world. By pooling financial resources and administrative responsibilities, United Mission maximizes the impact of our giving.

Rev. Dr. Reppa

This is a personal story from Rev. Dr. Reppa Cottrell, ABC of Rhode Island

What Else Does United Mission Do?

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Nurtures a Sense of Belonging

United Mission Strengthens the ABC Family

Contributing to United Missions is our church’s way of supporting the denomination and the region. We enjoy being a meaningful part of the wider work of the denomination. It means we play a part in making more ministries happen. We’re proudly American Baptists, and we’re historically committed to the idea that the local church should support the wider church. Giving to United Mission is an expression of love for our family.

United Mission Is The Vehicle

Supporting United Mission fosters the feelings of closeness and connection our congregation feels with the denomination as a whole. We give in confidence that these ministries are worthy of our support.

This is a personal story from Dennis Johnson, West Virginia Baptist Convention

What Else Does United Mission Do?

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Pastoral Education

United Mission Funds Pastoral Education

Many of the people who want to serve the Church locally aren’t in a position in their lives where they can relocate to pursue their theological education. They have families and jobs here in the Milwaukee area. So, working in partnership with ABC Wisconsin, and with the support of United Mission, we opened a fully accredited extension campus of Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Today, students can pursue a four year degree right in their own backyard, working with a faculty and staff of local people who understand the concerns and issues that are most relevant right here, where graduates will serve as pastors or lead other ministries.

United Mission Is The Vehicle

Seminary study provides tomorrow’s pastors and leaders with a solid Biblical foundation as well as the hands-on skills they’ll need to help American Baptists grow closer to God, equipping them to serve as the hands and feet of Christ.

timothy-ashley
This is a personal story from Pastor Timm Ashley, ABC of Wisconsin

What Else Does United Mission Do?

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Regional Support

United Mission Supports Regional Offices

United Mission supports regional offices, and churches depend on regional offices – a lot. There are so many things a church needs to do where having a knowledgeable, personal contact makes all of the difference. As churches navigate change, whether that means finding qualified pastoral candidates who are a good match for the congregation, to integrating technology into everyday operations, dealing with financial issues and more, the regional offices are a vital support network. They help make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Every church benefits from their oversight and connections.

United Mission Is The Vehicle

American Baptist Churches has been blessed with great diversity. We have little congregations and big ones; rural churches and urban ones. United Mission makes it possible to truly appreciate those gifts, celebrating everyone’s passion through a range of personal ministries.

pam-w
This is a personal story from Mrs. Pam Weisser, ABC of Wisconsin

What Else Does United Mission Do?

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Supports Missionary Work

The American Baptist Church has a committed presence in the Congo. Our missionaries have started and continue to run much needed hospitals and schools. We provide pastoral training and are there to help Congolese congregations thrive. United mission support helps ensure that ABCUSA can be there, even through the bad times. We’ve been able to hang in there when other churches have had to leave.

Our congregation is personally involved with supporting a family as they go through language and skills training to serve in the Congo. Most missionaries are great at what they do – but they’re not great fundraisers. It’s a disservice to them to use their passion and energy chasing dollars. Being able to rely on United Mission and the support of the American Baptists makes all the difference.

United Mission Is The Vehicle

United Mission provides education and raises awareness of ABCUSA’s many international ministries, in the Congo and around the world. United Mission is there to support those who are called to serve.

Everett-Curry
This is a personal story from Pastor Everett Curry, ABC of Central Pacific Coast

What Else Does United Mission Do?

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Dr. Tom Wiles on Ensuring the American Baptist Voice is Heard

We Are Strongly Committed to Religious Freedom

“If no one speaks for the people of faith, that silence creates a vacuum.” Dr. Tom Wiles is the Executive Minister for the American Baptist Churches of Rhode Island. “Political entities have been known to use faith for their own ends. It’s important that American Baptists are involved in the important cultural conversations that are happening because we can speak to these issues with integrity. We can speak from a genuine faith perspective.”

Listen to One Another for Grace

United Mission support makes it possible for American Baptists to gather with each other, with other Christians, and with people of other communities. Some of these gatherings are religious, while others are secular. All are attended by people who are taking an active role in shaping today’s society. “When we can speak in community with others who share our concerns, we move closer to a society that looks like the reign of God.”

“We have a chance to be of influence,” Dr. Wiles explains. Religious freedom is a topic at the heart of many of today’s most contentious conversations. “American Baptists speak to ensure we are free to practice our faith, and that others are free to practice theirs.”

“We also have to model how to listen to each other during divisive times,” he added. “Read broadly. Listen to more than one voice. Encourage others to do the same. Even within our congregations, there will be times when we disagree. But then we come together in the ways we’ve always done – for a potluck, to help a neighbor clean their yard, of course, most importantly, for worship – and we listen to and we care for one another.”

What Else Does United Mission Do?

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We Gather To Talk About What God Wants Us to Do

The 2017 Biennial Mission Summit – June 30 to July 2 – Portland, Oregon

Rev. Steve Bils Explains the Importance and Appeal of the Biennial

“The American Baptist Church is congregationally driven,” said Rev. Steve Bils, executive minister of the American Baptist Churches of the Central Pacific Coast. “That means it’s not the leadership that decides where the church is going to focus its attention and expend resources: that decision belongs to the people in the pews.”

The Biennial Mission Summit is the gathering used to determine denominational priorities for the next two years. “Everyone should come,” Rev. Bils said. “The Biennial provides the people who are the closest to the problem – the ones who are on the front lines of ministry – a chance to connect with other churches who are working on the same missions and to identify group solutions. This approach drives our mission and ministry as American Baptists.”

“Of course, it’s also a great party,” Rev. Bils added with a laugh. “There are special receptions, meals, and events throughout the weekend that are a lot of fun. One of our pastors is attempting to gather the largest number of pastors riding bicycles for a Guinness World Record attempt. Portland is an attractive destination, with lots to enjoy. And this year, we’re also experiencing an unprecedented amount of change. Over the course of the weekend, we’ll be introducing the new executive director of International Ministries, Rev. Sharon Koh, the new executive director of American Baptist Home Mission Societies, Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, and a new General Secretary, who will be delivering his or her first ever sermon in that role Sunday morning.”

When You Teach, You Learn So Much

2017 Biennial Mission Summit Includes Special Orientation to American Baptist Life Programming

Holly Bean Shares What Seminarians & New Clergy Will Experience

Encouraging the next generation of leaders is one of the current identified denominational priorities. For the first time ever, the Biennial Mission Summit will include a special programming track designed to help seminarians and new clergy members transition effectively into their new roles within American Baptist Churches USA.

“If you want a deep understanding of why American Baptists are the way we are, one of the best things you can do is attend the Biennial Mission Summit,” Rev. Holly Bean said.  Bean is coordinating the Biennial Mission Summit experience for 200 seminarians and ministers from other denominations who are preparing to serve as American Baptist pastors. “It’s an ideal welcome, that goes directly to the heart of how our church works.”

Orientation participants are provided with an itinerary that includes the event’s big moments – the worship experiences and speakers no one would want to miss – as well as educational and networking opportunities designed to help ensure their future success. “We know that ministers who attempt to go it alone have a really hard time,” Bean explains. “By proactively introducing new leaders to their regional executives and matching them with a mentor from their region, we’re helping them begin the process of building those critically important working relationships.”

“When we strengthen our ministers, we strengthen our churches,” Bean concluded. “Through this process, new ministers will have a stronger connection with the denomination and with each other. This benefits congregations locally and across the board on the national level. We’re demonstrating to our new leadership that we really want them there. United Mission support means we can give the next generations of leaders a real gift of community.”

What Else Does United Mission Do?

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Equipping Congregations to Fulfill Their Unique Mission

The Impact of Your Support on Pastoral Searches

by Steve Bils, Executive Minister
ABC of the Central Pacific Coast

One of the things that makes American Baptist Churches unique is that every congregation has its own distinct identity. We’re a very autonomous denomination; local control is very important to us. Yet we come together, pool our resources, and work for the greater good as one.

In Central Pacific Coast, the congregations of American Baptist Churches are joined together in a covenant partnership to resource, empower, and equip one another to discover and fulfill their unique mission in their communities and around the world. As a region, we act to support individual congregations through transitions and challenges.

Finding a new pastor is one of the biggest challenges any congregation can ever face. For some churches in our region, the former pastor may very well be the only pastor they’ve ever known. Change can be frightening, but it can also be a rich period of congregational renewal. Regional support during the pastoral search invites congregations to connect with their roots – many times, conversations about why a church exists where it does provide members with a rich appreciation of the historic relationship between their congregation and the denomination – and reimagine their future. Finding the right pastor for a congregation means truly understanding who they have been, who they are right now, and who they hope to be in the future as they continue answering Christ’s call.

This work is best done by those with experience in the process, so common pitfalls and stumbling blocks to congregational stability and growth are avoided. Over a dozen of our nearly eighty congregations are currently in engaged in a pastoral search. Several more have just recently called their new pastor. Your United Mission support helps us ensure that each congregation is served by a qualified interim pastor throughout the search process; after a new pastor has been installed, the Region provides ongoing support and education we know will help them succeed.

The congregations involved in these pastoral searches have said the Region’s assistance in their work is and has been helpful and greatly appreciated. The Region-assisted Search and Call process, including finding interim pastoral leadership, is an excellent example of the autonomy and interdependence of our American Baptist congregations.

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We Saw the Spirit of Christ in Each Other

The New England Collaborative

Rev. Anthony Pappas Shares the Story of Baptists Working Together

“Overcoming inertia takes a lot of energy,” explains Reverend Anthony Pappas. “When you’re talking about how long it can take to develop a new pattern of behavior – well, sometimes change is measured in centuries.” He laughed. “But things can happen more quickly when you intentionally strengthen relationships, between individuals, and between congregations.”

The five New England regions, their Executive Ministers, and the volunteers, both lay and clergy, came together to gain a greater understanding of each other and discern what resources exist that can be of use to all. This knowledge helps everyone make the most meaningful progress toward Kingdom goals by making it easier to work across administrative lines.

“Among our goals was to gain some synergy administratively across the five regions,” Pappas explained, “looking for consolidation opportunities and to reduce overall overhead. But even more important than that was the results of intentionally being together. We all sat in the same room and despite many preconceived notions of the folks “from there,” we saw the spirit of Christ in each other and we were able to talk and even dream cross-regionally.”

The Collaborative identified many areas where the larger regional group could work effectively together, including increased cross-regional interaction, support for bi-vocational ministers, congregational renewal, and a New England conversational/discernment meeting all American Baptists would be encouraged to attend. “The precedent that has been set, the fellowship ensuing, the learnings obtained, and the hope for the future are all such blessings for which you have our full gratitude,” Rev. Pappas said. “The New England Collaborative was made possible by a grant from the Mission Initiative Fund. The Mission Initiative Fund is funded by United Mission giving. Now we are more fully equipped to work together to accomplish God’s work.”

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The Gospel of Getting Involved

United Mission Supports American Baptist Justice Ministries

 

Creation Justice by Rev. Tom Carr

“Creation Justice is the recognition that all life  – both human and the beings that make up the other 99 percent of life on this planet – all matter to God,” says Rev. Tom Carr, Second Baptist Church, Suffield, Conn. “Part of evangelism is caring for God’s creations.”

American Baptist Churches USA have long played a leading role in environmental justice ministry. “This makes sense,” Carr says. “The Bible is absolutely full of references to God as the Creator, and this has been at the heart of numerous worship services. Today many local congregations have community gardens. The process of growing food is about more than providing produce for soup kitchens: getting outside and interacting with the soil, the water, the nutrients, feeling the sun on your shoulders – all of this reminds us that we’re not separate from God’s creation; we’re part of it.”

“Without a healthy environment, we won’t have a healthy civilization,” Carr added, pointing out that two elements are necessary as American Baptists move forward with this work. “In addition to a desire for justice, we must individually and collectively have a deep prayer life.”

United Mission supports American Baptists working for Creation Justice in a number of ways, including networking congregations all over the country. “It is important to foster that sense of connection,” Carr said. “So people know they are not working alone.” The connections extend beyond the walls of the church. “We are part of the IREJN, the Interreligious Environmental Justice Network, which connects American Baptists with Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Jews, Muslims, and other believers engaged in this work all around the world.”

Moving forward, Carr would like to see a website built to give all American Baptists a chance to see what other congregations are doing. “One church did a Green Assessment, looking at things like the cleaning products they used and the chemicals in the lawn treatments. Once that awareness was there, they were able to make more planet friendly choices. This is the type of example other churches can look at and say, “We can do this too.”

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Gospel in a Rapidly Changing World

Rev. Glynis LaBarre on the Future of the Church

 

“When we talk about the future of the church, we have to begin by talking about the past. The earliest Christians had no buildings. They had no seminaries. They had no nothing.” Rev. Glynis LaBarre explained. “Yet within one hundred years of the Resurrection, half of the planet had heard of Christ.”

The world is in a period of dramatic change. “There was a time when 80% of Americans attended church regularly,” LaBarre said. “We don’t see that anymore. But the needs the church fills remain. People still have a deep, abiding hunger for Christ’s message and feel called to do His work. The message is the same. But we need to consider that the delivery system needs to change.”

With United Mission support, LaBarre is working with a team of American Baptists from 7 churches. “We’ve learned that it is the mission that is so important. In Dearborn, Michigan, they have a thriving, active mission community. There was a situation where the actual church building was forced to close its doors, but the mission kept going on. In fact, the mission grew and grew as more people from outside the church joined in. And that genuine Christian experience may be the model of what the church will be like in the future.” She laughed. “Right now, we are in the experimental phase. We are willing to give it a try. We are praying for confirmation from God that we are on the right track.” She reminds all American Baptists that they have a role to play in shaping the future of the church. “I’m one minister, working on this question from one angle. There is so much more to be done.”

To find out more about United Mission and how your support can help shape the American Baptist Church of tomorrow, click here.

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Share Your Story

United Mission has an impact on every single American Baptist congregation. We’d love to hear your story. Maybe you attended the Biennial Mission Summit. Perhaps you’ve grown in your own faith and learned how to spread Christ’s love to others. It could be that the very act of giving brought you closer to God.

Tell Us About It

How United Mission Works

Who United Mission Supports

As American Baptists, we know that God’s family extends beyond our local churches. United Mission gives us the opportunity to demonstrate our caring and commitment to congregations on the regional, national and global level. As we give, we also receive: 2/3rds of all United Mission dollars are dedicated to regional initiatives, including leadership training, church planting, pastoral development, youth ministries, local church support and disaster response.

USmap

In 2017, United Mission will continue to strengthen:

  • ABCUSA Office of the General Secretary
  • Advocacy Initiatives (National and International)
  • American Baptist Caucuses
  • American Baptist Churches Communications
  • American Baptist Churches Information Systems
  • American Baptist Historical Society
  • American Baptist Home Mission Societies
  • American Baptist Men
  • American Baptist Women’s Ministries
  • American Baptist National Support Staff
  • American Baptist Personnel Services
  • Anti-Human Trafficking Efforts
  • Biennial Mission Summit
  • Board of General Ministries
  • Camps and Conference Centers
  • Career Centers
  • Caring Ministries
  • Christian Centers
  • Church Finance and Administration Support
  • Church Growth and Spiritual Health Resources
  • Church Leadership Education
  • Clergy Continuing Education
  • Colleges, Seminaries and Universities
  • Congregational Conversations
  • Disaster Response
  • Discipleship & Christian Education Resources
  • Economic Development
  • Ecumenical and Interfaith Ministries
  • Education and training of pastors, lay leaders and youth in congregational empowerment
  • Equipping churches for community mission
  • Evangelism Resources
  • Grants and Scholarships
  • Hispanic Ministries
  • Intercultural Ministries
  • International Ministries
  • Immigration and Refugee Services
  • Justice Ministries
  • Local Churches
  • Mission Initiative Fund
  • Mission Resource Development
  • Missional Church Transformation
  • National & International Disaster Response Awareness
  • Ordination standards and councils
  • Orientation to American Baptist Life
  • Pastoral Search Guidance
  • Peace and Refuge Initiatives
  • Pulpit Supply
  • Regional Ministries
  • Regional Support Staff
  • Rhythms of the Spirit
  • Stewardship Resources
  • Theological Conferences, Reflections and Witness
  • Transformed by the Spirit Initiative
  • Transition Ministries (formerly Interim Ministries)
  • Volunteer Ministries
  • Women In Ministry
  • World Relief Committee
  • Youth and Children’s Ministries
  • And more!

How You Can Help

Are You Ready to Get on Board?

  • We need your help spreading the word about United Mission to all American Baptists. If you have a story to share about how United Mission has played a role in your life or want to get connected, please let us know.

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