WELCOME to the American Baptist Churches of the South, (ABCOTS) website. ABCOTS is a Maryland non-profit corporation associated as a covenanting Regional organization with the American Baptist Churches, U.S.A. See us in Missions, Evangelism and Denominational Work, supporting the local congregations serving the District of Columbia and 15 states throughout the southern United States. Join us in reaching the world for Christ believing and perpetuating His identity, His message and His ministry!
Weekly Response to COVID 19
General Secretary Letter
March 24, 2020
Supporting our churches, pastors, and regions
Dear American Baptist Family:
Thank you for sharing your prayers, litanies, and resources during our 21 day Call to Prayer issued by the members of our National Executive Council and Regional Executive Ministers Council for the healing and recovery of COVID-19 victims. While this special emphasis runs from March 21 thru April 11, we will continue to post your submissions in the coming months at www.abc-usa.org/coronavirus. I’ve never known of a great act of the church that was not undergirded with prayer.
As Christians, we know that prayer and action go hand in hand. We pray fervently and we act diligently by maintaining social distances, washing our hands, safely volunteering, and following the mandates of our local, state, and national governments. As American Baptists, we have an exemplary record of exceeding expectations in doing the right thing.
Today, I am encouraging all of us to take another action and continue to support our churches, pastors, and regions during this critical time of ministry.
I have spoken to many pastors during this time of chaos and bewilderment and I believe that our ABC pastors are working harder now than prior to the onset of COVID-19. They are working differently, and with even more effort as they check on their congregants through electronic means, meet the emotional needs of families, youth, and the elderly, help staff community resources, research and post best practices related to the pandemic, figure out how to stream worship services and Bible studies, and the list goes on and on.
In the same way that a missionary must learn an entirely new set of practices in order to minister in a new culture, our pastors are learning how to be a pastor in the midst of social distancing restrictions and other disruptive conditions. Some of these learnings will have positive implications for the future of ministry and require deeper thinking, more collaboration, and increased creativity. Such adaptive work is extremely difficult and can take its toll on the leaders of our congregations and regions. Ministry has become even more difficult in recent days and we must not ignore the emotional, financial, and physical health of our pastors.
Our local churches, pastors, and regions are worthy of our support. Thank you to all who are continuing to support your local church and pastor through the mailing of your tithes and offerings and online giving, For those who are able, consider giving a special donation to your region as well. Some have told me that they plan to donate all or a portion of their government reimbursement check to their church or their region’s pastoral emergency fund. Just as many churches have discretionary funds to be able to support members and neighbors in need, many regions have special funds dedicated to supporting pastors in need.
Our national offices are also searching for ways to support our pastors and churches and we are monitoring potential benefits from the government stimulus package and other sources of assistance. News of benefits will be distributed through multiple channels including our ABC regional offices.
We have always been a bold and compassionate people. This is an opportunity to shine once again as we pray, act, and support our churches, pastors, and regions.
Acting General Secretary
I have never visited a congregation that was not able to care for the needs of persons in their community in critical times. I am encouraging all of us to do the same for our pastors during this unprecedented set of circumstances.
Our national and regional leaders pray and support you daily.
We act – mandates and service. We support - our pastors and regions.
People in New Testament times were not always able to assemble together and they found ways to support their local shepherds and ministry servants. Today, we benefit from enhanced technology.
IF your congregation needs assistance in streaming your worship online, contact your region or this website. If your congregation needs assistance with online giving, contact your region or this website.
In previous communications I have emphasized early protocols from the CDC, called for concern without panic, and reminded us to care for those hardest hit by this health crisis.
THE MINISTERS AND MISSIONARIES BENEFIT BOARD MMBB
RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS FROM NEC AND REMC OFFICERS
NON-CONTRACTUAL BENEFITS AVAILABLE TO ABCUSA CLERGY
Ordained pastoral leaders, whose employers who cannot afford to continue their premiums during this time, will be placed on temporary continuance of $10/month premium for a period of up to 2 years. The key objective is to keep intact important life insurance and disability protections for members of the Comprehensive Plan.
This involves a reduction in compensation to fix the premium to the lowest level while maintaining important life and disability benefits for the member. This could be extended to those pastoral leaders who are forced to leave their churches or whose church is forced to close.
During the period of continuance, MMBB would pay the $10/month premium on behalf of the employer from its Non-Contractual Benefits Fund.
Emergency Financial Assistance
Given the extraordinary and unique nature in which financial assistance requests are coming to MMBB considering the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for MMBB to develop an equitable approach to administering financial assistance to those in need. In addition, it is also equally important to determine the magnitude of such requests.
Emergency financial assistance is meant to relieve personal, short-term financial crises and to augment continued financial solvency of pastoral leaders in the event of loss of employment or extended financial difficulty experienced by the church or employer. This policy is developed with the understanding that recipients of financial assistance would engage in financial wellness counseling through MMBB.
This policy continues with the current guidelines for Emergency Assistance. While all members are eligible for assistance, focus would be placed on assisting those in pastoral leadership and those who are most likely to suffer income loss during this crisis. Requests would be made on a one-time basis rather than spread over a period for expedition and ease of administration. Using current thresholds, assistance would be limited to $3,500 (or $4,000 in extreme circumstances) per request. Due to the limited non-contractual budget, the limits are set based on the reality that the fund must be shared amongst a variety of needs.
Member confidentiality will be maintained in the administration of benefits.
PORTIONS OF THE CARES ACT PERTINENT TO THE CLERGY COMMUNITY AND THEIR CHURCHES
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) is a $2 trillion legislative package that was enacted on Friday, March 27, 2020. Below are provisions that could assist the clergy community:
Subtitle B – Rebates and Other Individual Provisions
Section 2201. 2020 Recovery Rebates for Individuals
All U.S. residents with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 married), who are not a dependent of another taxpayer and have a work eligible social security number, are eligible for the full $1,200 ($2,400 married) rebate. In addition, they are eligible for an additional $500 per qualifying child under the age of 17. This is true even for those who have no income, as well as those whose income comes entirely from non-taxable means-tested benefit programs, such as SSI benefits.
For most Americans, no action on their part will be required in order to receive a rebate check as IRS will use a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return if filed, or in the alternative their 2018 return. This includes many low-income individuals who file a tax return in order to take advantage of the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. The rebate amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 that a taxpayer’s income exceeds the phase-out threshold. The amount is completely phased-out for single filers with incomes exceeding $99,000, $146,500 for head of household filers with one child, and $198,000 for joint filers with no children.
Section 2202. Special rules for use of retirement funds
Consistent with previous disaster-related relief, the provision waives the 10-percent early withdrawal penalty for distributions up to $100,000 from qualified retirement accounts for coronavirus-related purposes made on or after January 1, 2020. In addition, income attributable to such distributions would be subject to tax over three years, and the taxpayer may recontribute the funds to an eligible retirement plan within three years without regard to that year’s cap on contributions. Further, the provision provides flexibility for loans from certain retirement plans for coronavirus-related relief.
Please note that while the 10-percent early withdrawal penalty for distributions up to $100,000 from qualified retirement accounts is waived, it does not waive income tax on such distributions.
A coronavirus-related distribution is one made to an individual: (1) who is diagnosed with COVID-19, (2) whose spouse or dependent is diagnosed with COVID-19, or (3) who experiences adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, furloughed, laid off, having work hours reduced, being unable to work due to lack of child care due to COVID-19, closing or reducing hours of a business owned or operated by the individual due to COVID-19, or other factors as determined by the Treasury Secretary.
Section 2203. Temporary waiver of required minimum distribution rules for certain retirement plans and accounts.
The provision waives the required minimum distribution rules for certain defined contribution plans and IRAs for calendar year 2020. This provision provides relief to individuals who would otherwise be required to withdraw funds from such retirement accounts during the economic slowdown due to COVID-19.
Section 2204. Allowance of partial above the line deduction for charitable contributions
The provision encourages Americans to contribute to churches and charitable organizations in 2020 by permitting them to deduct up to $300 of cash contributions. This provision is for taxpayers who do not itemize, but instead take the standard deduction. This is applicable for tax years beginning after 2019 and does not sunset after 2020.
From the Desk of Dr. James M. Harrison, ABCOTS Executive Minister
A Message from The Center for Career Development and Ministry
Can we help?
Pastors, would it help to talk with one of our coaches as you navigate through these uncertain times?
We know you are feeling the stress not only as this pandemic affects you and your family personally
but also as you address the needs and concerns of a congregation that is depending on you for leadership and vision.
We know that many of you are worried about how your church can continue to pay you
if this "stay at home" mandate continues for an extended time. We know that each day brings new challenges and fresh anxiety.
Can we help?
Contact me at and I'll match you with a coach who can meet with you via Zoom Videoconference.
No charge. We can get through this together.
The Center for Career Development and Ministry
From the desk of ABCOTS Executive Minister Dr. James M. Harrison
The 50th Annual Session of American Baptist Churches of the South, (ABCOTS), previously scheduled for 28-30 April 2020 in Richmond, Virginia is CANCELED due to the impending threats of the Novel Coronavirus (CORVID-19).
Please be advised, the 50th Session of ABCOTS will be celebrated 3-6 May 2021, and held at the Richmond Marriott, 500 East Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219.
Please accept our apologies for inconveniences, trouble or difficulties this rescheduling may cause you! These changes are made in an earnest attempt to protect your safety and health.
ABCOTS Annual Session Registration Reimbursement:
You will receive a full refund. Announcements of delivery will follow shortly. Please allow 2-4 weeks for all refunds to be issued.
Contact the Marriott Hotel 1-800-228-9290
Contact any secondary source handling your reservation
Contact your transportation carrier directly (Airline, Amtrak, Charter, etc.) Do not be surprised if vouchers are issued instead of refunds.
ABC/USA or ABCOTS Auxiliary Dues:
Those dues will be credited for the year 2020.
No dues will be refunded. No membership services will be interrupted.
Rescheduling for May 2021:
Registration will re-open in the Fall 2020. Reserve these dates on your calendar now!
Contacting ABCOTS: (443) 551-3045 or email and firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABCOTS Response to the NOVEL CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19
1. Let us start with prayer for our Churches, its Leaders, and our Government Leaders. (I Timothy 2:1-2; II Chronicles 7:14).
2. Recognize this is a very serious time. The World Health Organization has made the assessment that COVID19 can be characterized as pandemic. It is a real threat to the health of our communities.
3. Let us begin to plan well and not panic while serving our congregations and communities. Make choices using good judgement giving thought to safety especially with regards to the more vulnerable congregants (sickly, elderly, etc.). (Proverbs 3:5-8;19-23)
4. Obey and observe all local, state, and federal prohibitions and regulations relating to a healthy response to this pandemic event. (Romans 13:1-5).
5. Practice good and careful hygiene; wash your hands often, use hand sanitizers.
6. Avoid crowds, large groups around traditional gathering places.
7. If you choose to continue corporate worship meetings cease the hugs, friendly kisses, and intimate contact. Choose the “fist bump”, folded arms and bow to greet fellow congregants.
8. Look for alternative ways to experience services, online, video, or Facebook. Remember we are still connected in spirit/heart and in mind.
9. Avoid the small ministry group gatherings where people may be in more intimate and in close proximity to each other; Bible Study, Auxiliary Meetings, Fellowship Meals and such.
10. Sanitize Ministry and Worship Spaces before and after use…using appropriate chemicals, supplies and thorough cleaning methods following manufacturers’ directions and guidelines always.
11. Consider suspending “Communion of the Lord’s Supper” for a period remembering the words of the Apostle Paul. (I Corinthians 11:26).
12. Seek correct information and updates, you may contact:
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention/Interim Guidance for Communities and Faith Leaders Tele: 800-232-4636 | Website:
Continue to be faithful, informed, and thoughtful. Freedom is being responsible, obedient, and demonstrating love always.
James M. Harrison, Executive Minister
American Baptist Churches of the South
The National Executive Council encourages all American Baptists to embrace the upcoming Lenten Season in order to draw close to our Lord, and to pray for our neighbors near and far. Members of the council have committed themselves to a day of prayer and fasting each week during the Lenten Season.
The six-week long season of Lent comes from a word meaning the lengthening of days and has long been highlighted as a season of repentance, reflection, and rekindling our relationship with Jesus. God strengthens as the days lengthen.
Spiritual practices for American Baptist emphasizes the importance of both practices of omission and practices of commission. Fasting from food and engaging God in prayer encompasses this concept, but is merely one example. Others are encouraged to adopt their own spiritual practices during the Lenten season that begins on Wednesday, February 26 and ends on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020.
“During the Lenten Season, I will join many Christians all over the world as we sacrifice something we enjoy or assume a discipline in order to pause and pray as we seek God for new revelations in our lives. Prayer and fasting are essential in my journey to deepen my relationship with God. Therefore, I pray that through the Holy Spirit we will be transformed together and more emboldened to share and live our witness of God’s Grace and Love.”
Rev. Gina C. Jacobs-Strain
Executive Director, American Baptist Women’s Ministries
ABCOTS February 2020 Newsletter
Green Lake Work Party - Spring 2020
Greetings Green Lake Volunteers! I pray all is well and God is blessing you and yours.
This year’s spring work party will take place May 18-22, 2020. As in the past, check-in day will be Sunday. The first meal served will be Sunday dinner and the last meal served will be Thursday lunch. You will be on your own for meals not served at the conference center. As you know, work party participants will incur a partial cost for meals; lodging will continue to be provided at no cost. Meal cost information is contained on the attached registration form. Please indicate to GLCC staff what would be your first meal and last meal; in the event you are not going to stay the entire week. I am pleased to announce that a limited number of meal scholarships are available for those who desire to participate, but may not be able to incur the additional cost of meals. If you are interested in receiving one of these scholarships, please let me know as soon as possible. You can e-mail me at the address above, or give me a call at (304) 549-6220.
I have attached a registration form for the spring work week, which you can fax, e-mail, or mail to GLCC. You may also register by calling the GLCC at (920) 294-7230. Please remember, registration is limited and the registration deadline is March 17, 2020, so you should register at your earliest convenience.
Hear the Call Retreat
5:00 PM, Saturday, July 11 through 9:00 PM, Monday, July 13 (Central time)
Green Lake Conference Center, W2511 State Road 23, Green Lake, WI 54941
Hear the Call is for adults who are exploring a personal call to join God in global mission. Participants will interact with global servants and staff of International Ministries who will answer questions, address misconceptions and help attendees evaluate their call. Worship, inspirational messages, Bible study and personal reflection time all combine to make this a powerful discernment experience.
By the end of the weekend, participants will have a clear conception of the next steps in the process and a deeper understanding of the culture and missiology of International Ministries.
For more information contact: Claudia Wong – or
Rodney Ragwan –
ABMen Return to Bacone College in 2020
ABMen USA are pleased to announce that we will resume our Bacone College Work Week in 2020. This year’s work week will be held June 7-13, 2020.
As you may know, Bacone College has a rich legacy as part of the American Baptist family. Bacone College was originally founded by Almon C. Bacone 140 years ago for the education of Native Americans according to Christian principles. The college has retained its Christian heritage but now focuses on the needs of Native American students in a multicultural setting. Christian principles are emphasized at Bacone in order to assist students in their growth toward wholeness.
"How can we help you?"
Please call us at 443.551.3045 or send an email to
For bookkeeping assistance contact Mr. Paul White Mon and Wed 9 AM - 12 noon