The Cleveland Baptist Association is a Holy Spirit directed, collective of 38 American Baptist congregations in Northeast Ohio. When we work together, we can minister in ways beyond what an individual congregation can successfully do. The apostle Paul referred to collective ministry that expands beyond individual efforts as he declared, For we are laborers together with God … (1 Corinthians 3:9, New Scofield/KJV).
Recently, we have initiated the Youth Enrichment Program which provides (1) homework assistance and tutoring, (2) art appreciation, (3) an exercise program, (4) daily nutritional meals (5) performing arts/drama & dance (6) recreational and social skills development and (7) reading skill enhancement. The goal is to improve academic performance for youth at elementary school age. The staff come from our member congregations and other Christian organizations. The initial funding was acquired through a grant by American Baptist Home Mission Society. Our executive minister was instrumental in securing the grant. The Youth Enrichment Program is the foundation of what has been envisioned as the C B A Mission Center. The mission center is not intended to be located in the facilities of any of our member churches. The Center is where we can come together to conduct ministry in the name of the Lord as we minister to the least of these as describe by Jesus (Matthew 25:40-45, NKJV). We are expanding our involvement in the ABC/Ohio Leadership Academy. We shall now have a unit of that program in Cleveland. The Leadership Academy is a theological studies program available to individuals who cannot pursue a seminary education. That program of study represents an alternative route for ordination as an American Baptist minister, and others that desire to receive theological education for personal development and spiritual growth. Our Quarterly Training Institute provides opportunities for the members of our various congregations to be exposed to regional and nationally recognized leaders in creative ministries as they share their expertise with us. The Quarterly Training Institute provides information, inspiration, and motivation for our local congregations. The three programs mentioned above are being carried out in addition to the ongoing collective ministry. The ongoing collective ministry efforts include but are definitely not limited to (1) preparing, examining, and ordaining candidates for the Gospel Ministry, (2) serving as consultants to congregations that are without a pastor, (3) recommending clergy to serve as interim minister while there is a pastoral vacancy, (4) mediation during congregational conflict, (5) leading local American Baptist congregations when a response is needed to national catastrophes (6) encouraging participation in ecumenical ministry, (7) promoting social justice, and (8) participating in local church ceremonies. In summary we are indeed laborers together with God as the Lord serves as a healing balm in a hurting and wounded world. We (collectively) were indeed busy last year and expect to continue our efforts in this year. The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. (Matthew 9:37)