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#AllianceAt30: Servant Role of Leadership
by Sheila Sholes-Ross
4) The servant role of leadership within the church, following the model of our Servant Lord, and full partnership of all God’s people in mission and ministry.
Celebrations, such as the Fourth of July and New Years', include fireworks. The Alliance of Baptists 30 year celebration has God’s gift of “light and love” for all, as fireworks. The Alliance is demonstrating to the world its co-ministry with Creator, Savior, and Spirit. Anniversaries are wonderful occasions to allow for intimate reflection! Such honest reflection can be redemptive, allowing one not only to celebrate, but to reflect upon moving forward to build upon past accomplishments.
Introduced to the Alliance in 2010, I was drawn into the word, “Alliance.” An alliance is a coalition, an entity to connect with and depend upon. The Alliance, often referred to as home, by many marginalized by society’s definition of what church MUST look like, marches to a different beat than other Baptist organizations, who have forgotten that Jesus was “all inclusive,” as prophet and Savior.
A seven-year veteran of the Alliance, I celebrate my Baptist home, and will reflect upon future hopes that more of God’s disenfranchised clergy, and others, will call the Alliance of Baptists, home.
The Alliance of Baptists’ Covenant is transformative. Point 4 strongly speaks to my heart: “The servant role of leadership within the church, following the model of our Servant Lord, and full partnership of all God’s people in mission and ministry.” This point in the Covenant represents the reason I sounded a call for a community to give priority to advocacy on behalf of clergywomen unable to obtain senior pastorates due to race, gender, sexuality, age or other “isms.”
When I spearheaded this endeavor, I was cheered on. “Equity for Women in the Church” became a community within the Alliance, and became a 501c3 non-profit in December of 2014. It remains an Alliance community, but branched out to reach its full potential in advocacy of women clergy across denominations and ethnicities. I celebrate the Alliance of Baptists for such support. I celebrate the Alliance’s willingness to forge ahead past archaic Baptist beliefs. Yes, I celebrate!!! Why? Because the Alliance of Baptists understood this focus was critical to what “partnership of all God’s people in mission and ministry” truly meant. The Alliance adheres not to biblical interpretations, which demean any person called to ministry, so yes, I celebrate 30 years of progressive theology, and work of God.
In the 30 years since the inception of the Alliance of Baptists, we have grown, and surpassed hopes and dreams of our founding members. However, as I reflect upon assets to build upon, my hope is for enhanced racial diversity. During this critical time of national divisions, I celebrate that the Alliance of Baptists recognizes the importance of increasing racial diversity. Yes, we will move in the right direction.
So, Happy 30th Year Anniversary to all of us, and let’s bring on the fireworks of on-going inclusivity, light, and love.
Sheila Sholes-Ross, Pittsfield, Mass., is the pastor at FBC Pittsfield and previously served on the Alliance of Baptists' Board of Directors.