The Executive Committee meetings began with President Patti Stratton commissioning Rev. Valerie Andrews (Events Coordinator) and Gail Aita (Western Geographic Coordinator) to service with AB Women's Ministries. (The rest of the EC had been commissioned during the July meetings; Valerie and Gail had been unable to attend.)
Our meetings were held at Mercer University with the American Baptist Historical Society. On Saturday afternoon, we were able to have a tour of the historical society led by Jan Ballard, ABHS archivist--a highlight of the weekend!
The national leadership team of AB GIRLS had arrived in time to join the executive committee for the tour of ABHS.
NLT Convenor Emilie having a moment of connection with Emily Chubbuck Judson in the historical society.
And there we are--AB Women! There were lots n' lots n' lots of boxes like these with the archives of AB women from yesteryear to nearly-today. (Current files are maintained in the ABWM office and archived with ABHS on a regular basis.)
ABHS staff had put together special displays to welcome us into the historical society.
This placard displayed at ABHS is the schedule for an event at Green Lake Conference Center at which Executive Director Virginia Holmstrom was a guest speaker.
The executive committee and NLT join together in a "get to know each other" game led by NLT convenor Emilie Rodgriquez. Pictured left to right: AB Women's Ministries Project/Business Manager Wendy Clemmer, Events Coordinator Rev. Valerie Andrews, Treasurer Annette Pacheco, President Patti Stratton.
President Patti Stratton updates the teams on where AB Women's Ministries is in regards to our three-year program, "Designing How American Baptist Women's Ministries Lives Out Our Cultural Realities into God's Intentional Desire," facilitated by Rev. Dr. Trinette V. McCray. Trinette joined us by Skype after Patti's introduction to walk the team through the process, talk about future steps, and answer questions.
Executive Director Virginia Holmstrom and AB GIRLS Coordinator Nancy Peto during a work session.
President Patti Stratton opening a work session with words of encouragement and prayer.
Members of the 2014-2015 executive committee and national leadership team of AB GIRLS, and staff. (Front row: Kennedy Cooper, Rev. Valerie Andrews, Emilie Rodriquez. Second row, Nancy Peto, Gail Aita, Patti Stratton, Gail LaForce, Haley Sanders, Rev. Angel Sullivan, Virginia Holmstrom. Back row: Bonnie Higgins, Rev. Sandy Hasenauer, Celine David, Annette Pacheco, Nola Crooks, Bonnie Sestito.)
On the last morning of executive committee meetings, we joined together for a closing worship in the hotel prior to leaving for worship at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Here the NLT leads a portion of the worship.
Sunday morning worship was at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. This is the "new" sanctuary, built across the street from the original Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King, Sr., was pastor for many years, as well as Martin Luther King, Jr.
It was a special Sunday at Ebenezer. Congressman John Lewis was preacher, and there were several special guests. This year, for the first time in Georgia's history, some polling places opened on Sunday. Ebenezer and many other churches urged congregation members to head straight to their polling locations following services. Ebenezer had a bus to transport congregation members whose polling location was local directly to the polls following worship. It was an inspiring Sunday!
One of the special guests in attendance was Martin Luther King Jr.'s eldest sister and only surviving sibling, Christine King Ferris. She is a professor at Spelman College and author of several books, as well as a speaker on topics such as multicultural education, teaching, and of course, the King family and civil rights. She has served as Vice Chair and Treasurer of the King Center and has been active in many church and civic organizations, including NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The national leadership team was excited to have their picture taken with her!
Rev. Dr. Albert Paul Brinson gave the executive committee and NLT a very personalized tour of historic sites related to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Brinson grew up with the King family and was an activist in the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Brinson served as associate director of World Mission Support, ABCUSA, and then as interim associate general secretary of World Mission Support until his retirement. Having been ordained into pastoral ministry by both Martin Luther King Senior and Junior, his friendship with the King family remains close today. He was able to give the executive committee and NLT a very special perspective on civil rights activism then and now.
The teams received a private tour of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthplace, just up the street from Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Listening intently to Rev. Dr. Brinson's history and personal stories.
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, which sits right next to Ebenezer Baptist Church.
"Behold" monument at Martin Luther King Jr., historic site.
Graves of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King at the national historic site.
The Eternal Flame at the national historic site.
The NLT at the national historic site.
Executive director Virginia Holmstrom gives tremendous thanks to Rev. Dr. Al Brinson for the time he took with the teams on Sunday--it was truly a wonderful experience!
The executive committee meetings completed, the NLT meetings just beginning! Here Convenor Emilie (standing, back to camera) officially welcomes the two new NLT members (Kennedy, right, Celine, left) to the team by presenting them with their nametags and business cards, and "knighting them" for service with the best symbol of today's youth, her cell phone.
Celine gets "knighted" for service with the cell phone.
The NLT working hard on planning the G.I.R.L.S. Leadership Academy for July 2015 and a virtual mission encounter on bullying in September 2015. No, they're not texting or playing with their cell phones; they're finding Scriptures. (Rather than saying, "Take out your Bibles," we now say, "Open your Bibles on your phones....") Left to right: Celine, Haley, Nancy, Kennedy, Emilie. Angel is just out of the picture, Sandy is taking the picture.)
The four NLT youth sorting out complicated schedule questions for the G.I.R.L.S. Leadership Academy.
The team at the end of a long weekend of hard, but very good, work! (Front row: Kennedy, Celine. Back row: Angel, Emilie, Haley, Nancy.)