The Mission Outreach Board at First Baptist provides opportunities for our congregation to use their time, talents and monetary offerings to serve God’s people in our community and around the world. Members of the church have the opportunity to pledge to Missions specifically if they wish and these offerings fund our outreach activities.
Locally, we support the Joint Urban Ministries Project (JUMP). In addition, members of our church give bags of specified food items each February to JUMP, and throughout the year, the everyday necessity of toothpaste for those in need in our community. We also support ANew Place, formerly known as the Burlington Emergency Shelter, by serving meals for a week twice per year. ANew Place is now more than a shelter, but helps its clients with many supports to rebuild their life skills and work and housing opportunities.
As part of our feeding ministry, we reach out to the Salvation Army by providing meals twice a year for a week at a time. We help the First United Methodist Church which offers a soup/sandwich supper every Sunday evening and regularly feed about a hundred people. We provide the milk twice a month and soup once a month. At Thanksgiving there is a processional of the congregation bringing food and monetary offerings to the front of the church. These items are used to fill food boxes for those we identify as needing them. The remaining food goes to the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf and JUMP. We have a few dedicated individuals who deliver Meals on Wheels twice a month. This well-known program had its Burlington origins in our church kitchen over 50 years ago.
We support the Cooperative Christian Ministry (CCM) at UVM, which provides a spiritual community for college students. Along with other downtown Burlington churches, we participate in “Gifts that Give”, an alternative giving fair held in Dec. which provides its patrons the chance to give to non-profit organizations in the name of the people on their Christmas gift list.
On the denominational level, we support American Baptist Churches USA in supporting missions both within the United States and throughout the world. ABCUSA joins with other denominations in contributing to Church World Service providing disaster relief worldwide. Our congregation gives monetary support to four ABC International Missionaries, Dan and Sharon Buttry who are Global Service Consultants for Peace and Justice, and Bill and Ann Clemmer, working in South Sudan and Gania, eastern Congo, with women victims of sexual assault.
We welcome the Karen Baptist Community (originally from Myanmar, or Burma) into our work and service. We also have invited a Nepali Christian congregation (New Namuna) to worship in our sanctuary every Saturday. These are great ways that the wider world has come closer to us here at First Baptist.
We encourage all members and friends of First Baptist to help in any way with these endeavors. In the Biblical passages from Matthew, Jesus tells us to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” and “just as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.” The Mission Outreach Board enables us to live out these precepts as a congregation.
A Judson and Karen Emphasis at First Baptist, Burlington
We have been blessed over the past decade to form a strong bond with many families from our local Karen Community. We recall the life and work of Adoniram and Ann Judson who served as the first American Baptist Foreign Missionaries in Burma (now Myanmar) over 200 years ago. Over the past few years many Karen families have arrived in Burlington as refugees from Burma and many of them are Baptists and part of the Judson legacy. The children now sing in our children’s choir and attend Sunday School. The Karen Baptist Community has a Karen-language service at noon each Sunday in our sanctuary and we also regularly hold joint worship in both languages. Our relationships with these families are strengthening through potluck meals, working together on projects and helping with citizenship studies and school tutoring.
In 2012 we celebrated “Judson 200”, a several year celebration of the Judsons’ mission to Burma, organized by the American Baptist Historical Society. We sent representatives to a special conference in Salem, MA and held educational sessions of our own on the history of Judson and his three wives (Ann, Sarah and Emily) and their missionary endeavors in Burma over a 37 year period. We relived their lives on the ship “Caravan” during their courageous four-month journey, first to Calcutta and eventually to Rangoon in 1813. Through many sacrifices of health and privation (2 wives died) and imprisonment, converts were made and the Bible was translated into Burmese. Adoniram Judson became a world-wide hero and beloved in Burma. We also celebrated Judson 200 by skyping with the Binkleys, missionaries in Burma, eating Karen food, inviting ABC missionaries with Burma connections to Burlington and on July 15 of that year holding a Judson Day worship service on July 15, as is done annually in Burma. Rev. Stan Murray, ABCUSA Area Director for SE Asia/Japan was our guest at this service. Another adult class in 2012 featured Carol Hewitt speaking about her travels to modern-day Myanmar (Burma). Currently, church member Tocher Mitchell is on a year-long USAID work assignment in Burma and regularly sends back photos and news. Members of several boards purchased Karen New Testaments for our Karen friends and church member, Carol Hewit, donated Karen hymnals to them. A few members of the Karen Baptist Community have travelled back to see family in Thailand or Burma since then, and one couple is currently arranging a mission back to work with the people along the Thai border.