Paula Clayton Dempsey, director of partnership relations

We are simply asked

to make gentle our bruised world

to be compassionate of all

including one’s self

then with the time left over

to repeat the ancient tale

and go the way of God’s foolish ones.

—Jim Strathdee

During my last year at Meredith College, I was introduced to Strathdee’s quote by Peggy Way of Vanderbilt University Divinity School. My sense of calling was greatly influenced by her as well as interaction with other women ministers I met while in college. Even though none were Baptists serving in the South, I enrolled in Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a strong sense of calling to be a pastor. I completed seminary in four years with a degree, some ministry experience and my calling affirmed in ordination by the good folks at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church and my home church, Berry’s Grove Baptist Church, Timberlake, N.C.

I have lived out my call to be compassionate of all by serving as a local church pastor, a director of Christian social ministries, a college chaplain, a hospice chaplain, coordinator of a spirituality center and in being a wife and mother. I have also deepened my sense of calling to the contemplative dimension of the Gospel by studying with Contemplative Outreach and The Shalem Institute.

When the opportunity to serve through the Alliance came my way, it was as if all the gifts, skills, tools and hard knocks in ministry I had accumulated over the years were being called forth. Since I began in 2009 serving on the leadership team of the Alliance I’ve become more aware of the needs of the church and church leaders in our rapidly changing world. Additionally, I’ve gotten more excited about what the Alliance has to offer in response to the needs.

Our commitment to nurturing church leaders, partnership, shared power, radical hospitality, social justice and the larger church in the world are all a part of making gentle our bruised world.

I’ve done some foolish things in my ministry; some considered my early involvement in the Alliance of Baptists as one of them. If so, then my prayer is that others will join me in repeating this ancient way of being — and go the way of God’s foolish ones.

Paula Clayton Dempsey