Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches @2017

Evergreen Association

Of America Baptist Churches

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Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches @2017

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Evergreen History


Once the process was in place to move the “New Region” forward for ABC/USA, the Transition Team felt it was time to direct its attention to making some hard proposals to the churches such as a name, mission statement and by-laws. The issue of their racial imbalance was still before them. They decided to ask each ethnic caucus of churches that existed in its boundaries to nominate people to a Vision Committee. At first it was agreed that there would be four representatives from each ethnic caucus. The Asian Caucus was the only one that had an already existing group. They felt able to appoint only two, but felt that it was OK if the other two appointed four each. The African-Americans did not have a formal meeting to appoint their four and in fact, named representatives were for the most part named or volunteered by particular churches or pastors. The Euro-Americans had a formal meeting. They affirmed the decision that they would send only representatives who were positive about the New Region as Representatives.

On Saturday, February 16, 2002 the Vision Committee met for the first time from 9:00 to 3:00 p.m. at Japanese Baptist Church in Seattle. They were oriented to the task by Marcia Patton and Yosh Nakagawa. Marcia Patton acted as facilitator for the group. They were told that their task was to propose a Mission Statement, a Vision Statement, a Name, and Structure (By-Laws) to the congregations that were in the New Region. They were told that it would be nice if this work could be done yesterday, but they were to work on it as quickly as possible without compromising the end product.

The Vision Committee had 3 pastors (one from each ethnic caucus), an award winning mathematical scholar, an unemployed environmental engineer, a self-employed embroidery emblem maker and wife of a state legislator, a junior high-school science teacher, and a real estate broker. There was another pastor who attended one meeting and another person who later dropped out of his church and the committee.

The Vision Committee met at least once a month on a Saturday from 9 until 3 and at least two evenings in between.

By April the group was feeling that they were closing in on a Mission Statement and Name and they asked for a meeting of the churches to affirm them. While the Transition Team made arrangements for the meeting the Vision Committee began work on a structure for the “New Region” as a major part of their mandate. There was significant conversation in the Vision Committee about what difference this “new entity” made in terms of structure. What was needed was discussed. Yosh Nakagawa made an impassioned statement to the Vision Committee. They together caught the significance of using caucus groups as a way of deliberately bringing people to the table. Just as they had grown to appreciate one another beyond their differences, they hoped a similar experience for people in all their churches. Having caucuses establish the makeup of the Executive Committee of the New Region seemed to them to address the concern they had for true equality at the decision making table.

It was deemed by the Transition Team that it would be helpful if the churches met at the same time as the ABC/NW Biennial since the churches of the New Region are also members of Washington Baptist Convention (WBC), which held Biennial meetings in conjunction with ABC/NW meetings. Because of the formation of the New Region, WBC was changing their by-laws. Having all churches in attendance at Tacoma, would be helpful to their work. So a “Constituting Convention” was held on Saturday, May 18, 2002 at Rhodes Hall in Tacoma, Washington. There were over a hundred in attendance early in the day.

The Vision Committee met immediately before the gathering defining and editing the mission statement. The following mission statement was proposed and unanimously passed by the representatives present.

Being a culturally diverse people who are one in Christ, the Evergreen Baptist Association will
Build bridges between communities;
Provide resources to equip member churches to share Christ, and teach God’s word; and
Translate our unity to the world

In addition, the Vision Committee proposed a name for the Region, EVERGREEN BAPTIST ASSOCIATION. Some questioned the name Association. The Vision Committee members stated that they felt it more descriptive of what American Baptist ought to be about, “Association” rather than Region which was solely geography. They felt they had chosen a “geographical name” as American Baptist Regions are so named, since Washington State is the Evergreen State. They felt that simply using Evergreen did not limit geography as much as other names that were proposed. By the time of this May meeting, two churches from outside the SBU geography had elected to be part of the “New Region.” Pullman Baptist Church from the eastern side of the state, and the United Church of Moscow, Idaho. The name, Evergreen Baptist Association, passed wholeheartedly by the representatives present.

The Vision Committee also presented a proposal for the structure of the Association, with an Annual Convention, an Association Board and an Executive Committee that would be made up of two representatives from each ethnic caucus. So the odyssey of the caucus most clearly entered the picture. There was general agreement among the representatives that the Vision Committee was on the right track and encouraged them to proceed with the development of the structure into by-laws.

The final agenda at the May meeting was to elect leadership and to formally hand over control from the Transition Team to a Transitional Executive Board. The Transition Team proposed to the delegates that a Transitional Executive Board be selected by having 2 representatives from each of the three caucus groups and one generally elected representative. The group gathered was divided into caucus groups. It should be noted that one of the churches represented that day was a new Hispanic church. Although there were not enough Hispanic churches to warrant a caucus group, since they were being mentored into ABC/USA through a Euro-American Church, they were welcomed to sit with them. The Transitional Board was selected with a general election taking place after the caucuses announced their selections. The generally elected person is African-American.