Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches @2017

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My Evergreen Story

Testimonies

Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches @2015

Evergreen Association

Of America Baptist Churches

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409 Third Ave S, Suite A

Kent, WA  98032-5843


When I first heard of Evergreen, I was in college. It was a pretty radical idea what I was hearing: an American Baptist Region that will reflect and respect the Baptist principles of freedom, diversity and mission. This sounded exciting! However, not in my wildest dreams did I think I would be a part of it. After all, I was four time zones, 3,900 miles and two flight lay-overs away!

I grew up in the Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico, and I was a delegate to the regional annual meeting when I first heard of Evergreen. The new Region was expected to welcome churches that wanted to stay true to our Baptist principles and be a part of the larger American Baptist family. There was, however, a lot of misunderstanding – and shall I say, fears – on what exactly Evergreen meant and how it was going to work out. The project was something new and the ideas were quite radical: a non-geographical entity, made up of caucuses, working by consensus, with churches with very diverse theological positions… There was one thing they will all have in common: a commitment to mission.

Our denomination is a very diverse one. We pride ourselves in saying that there is no clear ethnic majority among American Baptists. There are theologically liberal churches and theologically conservative churches as well as everything in-between. There are small churches and very large churches. There are multicultural churches and there are churches that have kept their mission to a specific ethnic, cultural or linguistic community. We have rural churches and urban churches; churches that meet at homes and churches with cathedral-like buildings… Evergreen is one of the regions in which you can find all of this diversity! Moreover, Evergreen is home to churches from Alaska to California and from Utah to Venezuela!

To some extent, coming to Evergreen when I was called to be the pastor of University Baptist Church in Seattle, was like coming home. Both the congregation and our region are places where I can share my ideas and thoughts openly and discuss issues that affect us all. I have been welcomed and affirmed by the region and by my colleagues at Evergreen. Our differences – of ethnicity, language, sexual orientations, theological positions – are never downplayed, but rather honored and affirmed. We might not see eye-to-eye on every single issue, but we are committed to take the time to listen to each other and to understand each other better.

Certainly I am not saying that there are no challenges and that we are the perfect region. For instance, although Hispanic people have been part of Evergreen from the beginning, our current structure did not allow for a Hispanic caucus to be formed until recently. Yet, we worked through it and listed to each other until consensus was reached and positive actions were taken. This, I believe, is an example of how the people who make up Evergreen let the Spirit of Christ lead us in our work.

This is what Evergreen has meant to me: a place where the Spirit is allowed to lead us through the difficult conversations, the pleasant times of rejoicing, the painful growth processes and the empowering communion of saints that are willing to walk this journey of life and faith with you. 

 

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Rev. J. Manny Santiago
Pastor
University Baptist Church
4731 15th Ave. NE
Seattle, WA 98105







J.Manny Santiago