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A Brief History of ABC Caucuses

American Baptists are acutely aware of the vision of the Body of Christ that is inclusive and representative of all of its members. When the meeting is called, there is a seat for everyone to participate.

After the racial turmoil of the 1960s, American Baptists decided to officially include under-represented groups in the life of the denomination by adding definition, criteria, and recognition into the ABC Bylaws and Standing Rules. In 1970, four caucuses were organized: Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American Indian. The General Board approved annual funding for the caucuses that was administered by the Office of the General Secretary.

As new racial/ethnic groups join the ABC, two additional caucuses were recognized: Haitian in 19__ and Portuguese-Speaking in 19__.  Seeing the continuing need to have more women participate in leadership positions of the ABC, the Women’s Caucus was formed in 2014. At this time, there are 7 officially recognized ABC Caucuses. The BGM Credentials and Caucus Committee at its September 2016 meeting is recommending that a Young Adult Caucus be recognized.

The only purpose of caucus funding from the Office of the General Secretary is to assist caucus constituents to meet for the primary purpose of advocacy. Thus, the name, “caucus.” In other words, a caucus is primarily an administrative organization to identify under-represented people who may be residing in distant places to gather for the purpose of setting an agenda for the larger ABC family.

This is particularly apparent when the annual funding to a caucus is approximately $4000-8000. Caucuses recognize that missions and ministries are carried out by both national and regional entities namely ABHMS, IM and the 33 regional organizations. These ABC mission partners are organized and equipped to best deliver programs and resources to strengthen effective ministries in the ABC including the local churches and leaders participating in the caucuses. Therefore, when caucuses submit annual reports to the ABC Credentials and Caucus Committee for review, they would only need to report on how they utilized their annual funding for administrative activities.

Read Related Sermon  Human and Divine Stories

The existence of caucuses in the ABC is approaching 50 years and while there has been greater inclusiveness and representation in a number of places of ABC life, there is still work to be done. We continue to see this in the addition of new caucuses in recent years. The hope and prayer that ABC may truly in God’s time reflect the Body of Christ on “earth as we know it is already in heaven,” one can say that it’s honorable and Christ-like to have deliberately “put a thorn in our side.”

Don Ng, 9.27.2016

1 thought on “A Brief History of ABC Caucuses

  1. Rev. Dr. Trinette V. McCray says:

    The American Baptist Black Caucus was the first racial ethnic Caucus to be formed and become the first caucus in the American Baptist Churches. It was in response the the demands and work of the group then called, “The Black Churchmen” in 1963. Their demand for a Caucus and other inclusive actions on the part of the ABC gave rise much later to form other racial ethnic caucuses.

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