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BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz

Theological Statement ~ Mission Statement ~ Five Year Plan ~ Staffing Model


Theological Statement

“No Longer Strangers”
2015-2019

Witnessing to God’s peace rooted in justice ~ working together until it comes.
Testificando sobre la paz de Dios enraizada en justicia ~ Trabajando hasta que llegue.

A Reflection on our Convictions and Motivation

Scattered like salt across Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the United States, we are a movement of individuals and congregations from a wide variety of cultures and Baptist heritages, who share a common call to witness to God’s Peace—which is to say peace rooted in justice, this-worldly peace “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Since its inception as the Baptist Pacifist Fellowship in 1939, our organization has sought to build a culture of peace rooted in justice. Begun in response to the stated needs of conscientious objectors, as the Baptist Peace Fellowship it continued to address issues of war and injustice in the years following World War II. The current organization was founded in 1984 with the desire to provide international perspectives on peace and justice concerns by bringing together Baptist Peacemakers from four nations. Today, we come together from around the globe for peace camps, friendship tours, training programs and other activities.

We are not large in numbers, nor do we look to numbers for our strength, but we prefer to trust in prayer, truth and love. Our message is simple. Christ came not only to bring spiritual reconciliation but also to initiate a redeemed and healed social order, as he proclaimed at the beginning of his ministry:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because God has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
God has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of God’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18-19 GNV, adapted).

We are convinced Jesus came not only for personal salvation and the transformation of individual lives, but also to empower the poor, liberate the oppressed, set free the captive, and pronounce a new day of home and grace for all of creation. As we seek to follow Jesus, we take up this message of liberation and reconciliation.  We give witness to the reality of this new creation in Christ, with our words, our actions and our resources.

We believe witness begins at home. We acknowledge and strive to overcome the histories of oppression, which have distorted life within our families and churches even as they have in our nations and the larger world.

We commit ourselves to listen to one another as we seek God’s guidance in scripture and learn one another’s stories and contexts. We also commit ourselves to work together in concrete ways.

We respond to Christ’s call to action. We employ the methods of nonviolent conflict transformation, negotiation and direct action as alternatives to violent conflict and war. We join our efforts to resist what Baptist minister and global peace advocate Martin Luther King, Jr. identified as the triumvirate of evil: racism, militarism and materialism. We understand this "freedom to struggle" to be the Christian vocation, for to respond to suffering which destroys humanity is to do God’s work in the world.

Trusting in God’s grace, we turn to Jesus' teachings for inspiration and as a guide to life. We learn from experience that following Jesus in the joyful path of peace rooted in justice calls us to risk, to sacrifice and sometimes to make challenging choices in our daily lives. We embrace this reality.

We know we are not alone in the struggle: The Spirit of God unites us; the crucified and risen Jesus walks beside us. Witnessing and working for peace rooted in justice is a journey of faith and love--it is a pilgrimage of grace.

The goals of our organization are threefold, to

  • Gather together to mutually strengthen and support one another’s witness and work in international and regional gatherings which include community prayer, education, fellowship and song;
  • Equip individuals, regional groups and congregations with tools for spoken witness and the hands-on work of peace rooted in justice; and
  • Mobilize individuals, groups and churches, in response to pressing concerns—guided by the wisdom of those whose realities are local to the concern at hand.

We are committed to prayerful and equal partnership with Baptists who share our concerns around the world, as well as alliance with those of other traditions and faiths who are seeking peace rooted in justice.

How we live is as important as what we do! In keeping with our commitment to personal witness and shared work:

We strive, following Jesus,
to listen with openness,
speak with conviction,
resist evil,
receive hostility and return love,
break silences which harm,
resist cooperation with structures that cause hardship and suffering,
practice healing,
mend creation’s wounds,
offer hospitality to the refugee and the sojourner,
insist on human rights,
love friend and stranger, ally and enemy:
to point with our words, attitudes and actions
to the acceptable year of God.


Mission Statement

Witnessing to God’s peace rooted in justice ~ working together until it comes.
Testificando sobre la paz de Dios enraizada en justicia ~ Trabajando hasta que llegue
.

By Cheryl Dudley, co-chair of the Strategic Planning Committee

Contemporary advice about mission statements is that they are best if brief, descriptive and easy to remember. The purpose of a mission statement is to describe the purpose and vision of the organization. We believe these simple words describe our motivation and commitment as the BPFNA – Bautistas por La Paz: “Witnessing to God’s peace rooted in justice - Working together until it comes.” 

We believe the first words: “Witnessing to God’s peace rooted in justice,” describe our distinction as a faith-motivated peace organization. As people of faith, we believe God guides our vision and activity for peace. Although to many of us, our Baptist heritage is important, we are not just Baptists, Our accountability is not to our Baptist history and traditions, but to God. Therefore, it felt important to say this in our mission-vision statement - God motivates our commitments and work toward peace within God’s world, which is also our own – where we live, move and have our being. It is our prayer that our activism in the pursuit of peace rooted in justice bears witness to God and that the work of peace is a desired activity for God’s faithful people.

The second phrase, “Working together until it comes,” is a declaration and an affirmation of our connection together as BPFNA’s members and friends, but also with partners and co-laborers for peace in various parts of the world.  It is our intent to actively honor and deepen the partnerships between our four nation partners within North America, and it is also our continuing commitment to work with peacemakers across the globe within and beyond the bounds of North America.  We also have a desire to work with others who may be outside of our particular faith community -those who possess similar values, motivations and aspirations for just peace.  Working together also suggests that we don’t go at it alone. We are not a collection of individuals separately working for peace; we are in community, a community that is more successful and faithful in cooperation and solidarity with others. These others may have different experiences in the world due to geography, generation, ethnicity, race, gender and sexual identity or orientation or other factors, but still possess the same Spirit-instilled yearning for peace.  In this work together, we are committed to it as long as it takes, likely beyond the witness of who we are today. We will not abandon one another until peace with justice has been realized.

 We hope the simple words that make up our mission-vision statement encourage and motivate you, as they did the board. It is our prayer that God’s peace will be manifest through our shared witness and work.


Five Year Plan

“No Longer Strangers”
2015-2019

Witnessing to God’s peace rooted in justice ~ working together until it comes.
Testificando sobre la paz de Dios enraizada en justicia ~ Trabajando hasta que llegue.

Our Vision:

Scattered like salt across Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the United States, we are a movement of individuals and congregations from a wide variety of cultures and Baptist heritages who share a common call to witness to God’s Peace—which is to say peace rooted in justice, this-worldly peace “on earth as it is in heaven.”

We respond to Christ’s call to action. We employ the methods of nonviolent conflict transformation, negotiation and direct action as alternatives to violent conflict and war. We understand the freedom to struggle to be the Christian vocation. To respond to suffering which destroys is to do God’s work in the world.

Trusting in God’s grace, we turn to Jesus' teachings for inspiration and as a guide to life. We learn from experience that following Jesus in the joyful path of peace rooted in justice calls us to risk, to sacrifice and to make challenging choices in our daily lives. We embrace this reality.

We know we are not alone in the struggle: The Spirit of God unites us; the crucified and risen Jesus walks beside us. Witnessing and working for peace rooted in justice is a journey of faith and love–it is a pilgrimage of grace.

Unifying Theme:

No Longer Strangers: Crossing Borders for Peacemaking

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. –Ephesians 2:19-20

We take the biblical image of “no longer strangers” as an overarching theme for the next five years. This theme allows for us to address the many “border crossings” we have identified as core work for the BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz. These include: language, culture, race/ethnicity, geography, faith traditions, nationality, generation, class, gender, and sexuality. We recognize that despite the many “borders” between us, God has made us one. Called and empowered by Jesus, we work to live into the reality that we are “no longer strangers” by taking concrete actions together.

Yearly Themes:

We envision five specific annual themes arising from this text and our contexts. Each of these themes will serve as a focus area for one year. Each yearly theme will begin with a Peace Camp centered on that theme and will continue throughout the year until the next conference. The themes will connect to many of BPFNA’s events/programs/projects/ publications throughout the twelve months – e.g. articles in each issue of Baptist Peacemaker, a special section on the web site, Peace Sunday and Issue Monographs.

We will make a point of connecting the issues across our four countries. We see this as a particular role we have as a four-nation organization – connecting seemingly disconnected issues.

Using the focus of “gathers, equips and mobilizes” – guiding images for our work that emerged in previous periods of focused discernment and planning  -- the following plan specifies our goals and work for the years 2015-2019.

GATHERS:

BPFNA gathers peacemakers for learning, networking and inspiration.

We gather together to mutually strengthen and support one another’s witness and work in international and regional gatherings that include community prayer, education, fellowship and song. Individuals gather regularly to receive and share peacemaking principles and practices, build and strengthen the community of peacemakers, and encourage their faith through theological reflection and worship.

Overall Strategy

One overall strategy related to all gatherings below is to focus our grant writing on scholarship funds for gatherings. This will allow for diverse and vibrant events in which no one will be turned away because of lack of funds and will serve to strengthen these core features of our work.

Annual Summer Conference (a.k.a. Peace Camp)

We regularly attract a base of consistent, active “regulars” as well as a vibrant, diverse group of newcomers – all of whom feel connected to the group and nurtured in their work.

Regional/Local Groups

Groups meet within localities/regions for special projects – e.g. a Peace Mini-Camp sponsored by a region; a Friendship Tour focused on a local issue; an advocacy emphasis focused on an issue of regional relevance. Starting in 2014, we will convene regional/local groups at Peace Camp to allow groups to mobilize for the rest of the year.

Friendship Tours

Attracting people to yearly Friendship Tours may be competitive and counterproductive since many of our partner organizations offer excellent trips with compatible goals with. Therefore we propose that we move away from our current model of offering annual tours and instead:

1.     Keep our members informed of trips sponsored by such groups as Equal Exchange and New Community Project and encourage their participation in those trips.

2.     Actively encourage local/regional groups to sponsor shorter, more locally focused trips.

3.     Remain open to BPFNA-sponsored trips as particular opportunities present themselves.  

Denominational peace events

We will continue our practice of offering peace breakfasts, Conflict Transformation training workshops, and other events at national and regional denominational meetings. Both current members and newcomers regularly attend these events and find them to be inspiring gatherings that equip them for the work of peace.

Gatherings with current partners

BPFNA participates in and/or supports gatherings sponsored by partner organizations such as the

Indo-Afro-Latino America-Caribe Iglesias por la Paz, Comunidad Bautista Latinoamericana por la Paz, Christian Peace Circles, the National (US) Council of Churches’ Peace and Justice Table, and the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference. We will attend and publicize the gatherings related to peacemaking of our Baptist partners.

EQUIPS:

BPFNA equips persons for effective advocacy for peace and conflict transformation in the places where they live, as well as across the Americas and other places around the world. We equip individuals, regional groups and congregations with tools for spoken witness and the hands-on work of peace rooted in justice. BPFNA members and friends deepen their knowledge and skills in peacemaking and conflict transformation. New persons are equipped for peacemaking and conflict transformation through BPFNA resources.

Conflict Transformation Training of Trainers – North America

BPFNA members and others are regularly being trained to lead Conflict Transformation trainings and we are connecting those who have been trained with opportunities to lead trainings.

Conflict Transformation Training within North America

New and current partners (e.g. Partner Congregations, denominational regions) regularly invite BPFNA staff or BPFNA-trained persons to lead CT trainings.

Conflict Transformation Trainings around the world

New and returning partners around the world turn to us to lead or support CT trainings.

Young Adult Companioning Program

We will continue to nurture current companion pairings and add new ones so that all participants are energized in their peacemaking efforts.

Baptist Peacemaker

Baptist Peacemaker remains a strong piece for organizational identity supplying tools and inspiration for peacemaking work.

Regular Spanish-language resources

New and returning members and friends find culturally relevant Spanish-language resources through BPFNA that support, inform, and encourage their peacemaking efforts.

We will:

  • Find and engage Spanish-language writers/activists.
  • Connect with current partners within Spanish-speaking countries/contexts to publish or publicize their materials.
  • Publish materials from students in the Hispanic Summer Program (HSP) and Mayan Intercultural Seminary (SIM) classes.
  • Create a Spanish section of the BPFNA website.
  • Hire a native Spanish speaker in 2015 for specific projects with plans to pursue funding to expand this position in coming years.

Continued Publications

Issue Monographs

We publish pieces on the yearlong theme with a focus on what churches can do.

Model Ministries

We encourage churches by sharing stories of their successful ministries and inspire churches to consider new foci or models for their ministries.

Electronic Communications and Social Media

We use email updates, the listserv, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, our website, and Youtube to keep members and interested persons informed about BPFNA activities.

New readers for current publications

We maintain current readers while increasing new readership of BPFNA publications.

Partner Congregations

Churches that partner with us:

  • Receive helpful practical/practice-able tools on a regular basis.
  • Use BPFNA resources to encourage peacemaking work.
  • Share news of our programs and projects with their members on a regular basis.

Empower members

Members are encouraged in their peacemaking work through the resources and work of the BPFNA. BPFNA becomes aware of new people who are inspired to consider their call to peacemaking. Members and friends receive specific tools that assist them in their peacemaking work.

Mayan Intercultural Seminary (SIM) and Hispanic Summer Program

We continue to offer a high-quality class with active engaged participants. We connect with new students each time, inspiring and empowering them to include a peace rooted in justice emphasis in their ongoing ministries.  We connect with at least some of these students for a lasting relationship.

Annotated Spanish Peace Publications Resource List

People regularly access the list and add new resources to it.

MOBILIZES:

BPFNA mobilizes persons to advocate for peace where they live, across North America, and other places across the globe. Through its networks, the BPFNA provides information on timely peace and justice issues and publicizes specific direct action opportunities. BPFNA encourages participation by strategically connecting individuals and groups. We mobilize individuals, groups and churches, in response to pressing concerns—guided by the wisdom of those whose realities are local to the concern at hand.

BPFNA-led Mobilization

We create mobilization efforts (i.e., timely campaigns on pertinent emerging issues) that emerge from BPFNA activities. We create and encourage mobilization efforts around our annual theme in member countries and within local settings.

We will:

  • Use the yearlong theme as a mobilizing focus – creating a specific campaign(s) for individual and/or congregational work throughout the year.
  • Encourage mobilization efforts around the theme at Peace Camp.
  • Use Issue Monographs to equip churches for mobilizing.
  • Use local/regional Friendship Tours to spark mobilization efforts in specific areas.

Mobilization in Partnership

We support mobilization efforts that emerge from our members, Partner Congregations, and partner organizations.

We will:

  • Remain aware of and connected to efforts in keeping with the BPFNA mission and vision.
  • Make BPFNA members and Partner Congregations aware of these efforts.
  • Give involved members/churches a forum in BPFNA communication venues to share about and reflect on these efforts.

Equal Exchange/Baptist Fair Trade Project

Through this program, congregations become more aware of economic justice issues and equipped to respond. Sales stay consistent or increase, and we use income generated from sales for scholarships to increase awareness of economic justice issues.

In order to continue to gather, equip and mobilize, we must also:

SUPPORT:

  • We raise the money to fund the work through church and individual contributions and grant-writing.
  • We raise the funds required to support the annual budget.
  • The funds in the Sehested Endowment increase.
  • Funds are added to the Gavel Memorial World Peace Fund.

Staffing Model

The 2015-2019 strategic plan, along with Evelyn Hanneman’s retirement from full-time work at the end of February 2015, calls for a new staffing structure. Our discernment of the best personnel plan to fulfill the vision of the five-year plan is as follows:

Executive Director: We are returning to an earlier model of having an executive director who has the key role in engaging and drawing out the gifts of our members/partners as well as fellow staff. Former Program Coordinator LeDayne McLeese Polaski moved into this role as of January 1, 2015.

Communications Manager: The Communications Manager will continue the work already being done as well as adding more media relations, writing, promotion and electronic media. Former Information Manager Allison Paksoy moved into this role as of January 1, 2015.

Office Manager: This half-time position will include oversight of the office and database management. Scott Hayes joined the staff in this role in March 2015.

Finance Manager: This newly created quarter-time position will include oversight of all BPFNA finances. Former Operations Coordinator Evelyn Hanneman stepped into this position on March 1, 2015. 

Baptist Peacemaker Editor: Katie Cook serves in this quarter-time position.

Spanish Resources Manager: Developing and sharing Spanish-language resources is a high priority. Hortensia Azucena Picos Lee joined the staff in this position in June 2015. She is responsible for translating, writing, and identifying existing publications that share our vision of peacemaking. She is also brokering our existing relationships and allowing BPFNA to offer more materials in Spanish. We see this position expanding into a regular staff position when funds become available.

Summer Conference Manager: This will be the third year for this contract position. Former Operations Coordinator Evelyn Hanneman planned Summer Conference 2015, and Office Manager Scott Hayes will take over the position to plan Summer Conference 2016.


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