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Tabernacle Baptist Church Recipient of 2022 Widow’s Mite Award

April 01, 2024


Recently on behalf of American Baptist Churches USA, in conjunction with the 2023 RMMO Campaign, MMBB Financial Services honored Tabernacle Baptist Church in Utica, New York with the 2022 Widow’s Mite Award.  MMBB recognized Tabernacle Baptist Church for the congregation’s dedication and giving to the Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering (RMMO) during 2022. 

For 2023 the RMMO theme centered around Good will come, a sentiment that celebrates the more than 40-year legacy of the offering.  Senior Pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church, the Rev. Debra Kelsey understands the importance of honoring the RMMO tradition. She presented the Widow’s Mite Award to the congregation earlier this year.

Tabernacle Baptist was first founded in 1819. In the late 1990s as the congregation’s population significantly decreased, the church expanded its ministry and reached out to neighboring communities.  The congregation welcomed Karen refugees who settled in the area in 1999. Shortly afterwards the Refugee Ministry Taskforce was formed to serve the Burmese refugees.  The first Karen pastor, the Rev. Danel Calvin San, who himself was a refugee, came to Tabernacle Baptist in 2004. Today, the church holds services in both English and Karen.

The annual Widow’s Mite award acknowledges churches that demonstrate outstanding leadership and a continued commitment to supporting RMMO.  As a mission focused congregation Tabernacle Baptist impacts the lives of so many with their community outreach programs that include food pantry donations, annual mission trips, and volunteering offsite to help local youth and service projects. 

The roots of RMMO date back to the mid-1930s; providing assistance to ministers, missionaries, and their widowed spouses who have devoted their lives to God’s service.  The offering provides emergency assistance in their times of need and, for those eligible, a “Thank You” check at the end of each year. The RMMO, one of four national ABCUSA offerings, provides financial support to retired ministers, missionaries and their widowed spouses who have served ABCUSA for 15 or more years.

MMBB presents this award to commemorate the anonymous gift in 1981 of a Vietnamese woman worshipping with the First Chinese Baptist Church of Fresno, CA. Having no prior knowledge of the meaning of the offering, she slipped off her wristwatch, her only possession of value, and placed it in the envelope. This act of gratitude reflects the spirit of thankfulness and generosity Jesus speaks about in Luke 21: 1–4.

MMBB is thankful for this opportunity to commemorate Tabernacle Baptist Church for their persistent dedication to RMMO, the ABCUSA family and their community.  We believe it is important to remember those who have dedicated given their lives in service to do God’s work and the faithful givers whose generosity contributes to the success of this offering.

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