Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Holy Donut, Batman!

ABC General Board confirms decisions to sell headquarters, elect missions head

By Robert Marus
Published November 22, 2006

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. (ABP) -- Leaders of the American Baptist Churches USA have approved selling the "Holy Doughnut" -- the organization's Pennsylvania headquarters building -- and confirmed the appointment of a new head for the denomination's international missions organization.

The ABC's General Board voted nearly unanimously Nov. 14 to sell the ABC-USA Mission Center in Valley Forge, near Philadelphia. Of those present, 72 voted in favor of a recommendation from the board's executive committee to begin the process. There was one abstention, according to the American Baptist News Service.

"In this time of transition for all denominations in our culture, to let go of this symbol is a dramatic sign of our opening ourselves to the new thing God is doing in our midst," said Roy Medley, the denomination's general secretary, according to the service.

Earlier this year, a long-range committee recommended selling the building, built in 1962 and jokingly nicknamed by American Baptists for its distinctive circular shape. At the time, ABC officials said the organization occupied less than 50 percent of the building due to changing needs and staffing patterns over the last 40 years. The denomination rented nearly all the rest of the space.

"Much energy and resources go into keeping the building leased and lessees satisfied," Medley told the board. "We are not in the rental business but the business of mission."

The board approved the recommendation with the proviso that any deal reached with a buyer would include a 3-to-5-year period for the denomination and its tenants to find new housing arrangements.

It also voted to confirm the appointment of Reid Trulson as the new executive director of American Baptist International Ministries, the denomination's global missions and ministry arm.
Trulson is currently the International Ministries area director for Europe and the Middle East. He succeeds Charles Jones, the acting executive director, who will move to another position within the organization.

Trulson served more than 20 years in local church ministry and 11 years in international missions -- five years as a missionary in Europe and six years as a member of the stateside staff. He served two terms as president of the board of international missions.

The president of the board of American Baptist International Ministries, Ray Schooler, praised the choice. "Reid has a tremendous heart for mission," he said, according to the news service. "He has a great historical perspective, a steady hand and a dynamic vision. Since the first announcement of the nomination by the search committee, we have received overwhelming affirmation of this choice from missionaries, staff, board members and many others."

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