The American Baptist Churches of Vermont and New Hampshire restores, renews and refreshes pastors, churches and congregants, enabling them to continue to carry out God’s vision for our region.
Below are firsthand accounts from pastors and others who have directly benefited from the ABC/VNH Region’s ministry.
Rev. Isabel Rivera (left) with friend.
Rev. Isabel Rivera, Pastor of First Spanish-American Baptist Church, Nashua, NH:
“Loyalty and helpfulness,” are the two adjectives that immediately come to Rev. Rivera’s mind when asked about ABC/VNH. “Having the support from ABC/VNH is very important,” said Rev. Isabel. “Situations can’t always be solved, this is frustrating and hard. But support from the Region is always there.” Additionally, Rev. Rivera finds the many workshops, seminars and classes offered throughout the year to be extremely helpful. “We learn something new from each one,” she says.
The connection available because of the Region office is a recurring theme for Rev. Rivera and many other pastors. “Talking with other pastors and being part of such an organization is an advantage that others don’t have. It’s like a having a recommendation letter with me wherever I go,” said Rev. Rivera. “We don’t only get support when there is a need, we also get some financial help that help us alleviate some stressors and which enables us to do the things that are important. If these services were not available –emotionally and financially–many people would have no help at all, besides God.”
Being the “hands and feet of Jesus,” working with many who have no previous exposure to God or Christianity, these are tasks that Rev. Rivera takes on each day. And the connection to the ABC/VNH Regional office and other ministers around the two states is to her, extremely valuable.
Rev. Dr. Robert Robertson, Pastor of W. Swanzey Community Church in Swanzey, New Hampshire
“I have had the privilege of being a pastor in the ABC-VNH Region since 2003, having served previously in MA for fourteen years. I came into the ABC in 1980, after having been a ‘Lone Ranger’ for many years. I got tired of that! I began to realize the value of being connected, which, for me, is one of the great blessings of our denomination, and of our region in particular. Being connected means that I receive encouragement when I need it, but it also means that I am held accountable when that is needed. ‘Lone Rangers’ don’t enjoy those benefits.
“At a practical level, I value the monthly clergy gatherings in each of our associations. That was my first point of contact when I came to this region. I became part of the Lakes Association, where pastors had the opportunity to meet each month for fellowship and prayer. That continues to be a blessing for me now that I belong to the Monadnock Association. Our group is small, but strong, and it is strengthened further by the fact that our Executive Minister, Rev. Dale Edwards, has made it a point to be part of our monthly gatherings as often as possible. I don’t know how he manages to do that, because I assume that he visits clergy gatherings in the other associations as well, but his presence and the encouragement that he provides lifts us up.
“I also appreciate the monthly newsletter from the region (although I confess that I wish that it still came in ‘snail mail’ form!). It’s good to see how God is blessing our churches, and it’s nice to see our own church mentioned from time to time. The annual conference also serves as a time when I can share fellowship with people whom I may not often see on a regular basis, and I look forward (hopefully!) to hearing some challenging preaching.
“In the end, it always comes down to people. I have long been of the opinion that God works best through people, and God most certainly works through the people at the regional office to provide help when we need it. I am especially grateful to Janet McFaul and to Malcolm Hamblett who have been there for me whenever I had a question that needed to be answered, or a problem to be solved. We are fortunate to have good and godly people who are committed to serve God by serving us.”
More to come . . .