2024 Annual Gathering Workshops!

The 2024 Alliance of Baptists Annual Gathering will include two workshop times on Friday and Saturday. Below are descriptions of each workshop offered and more information on our workshop leaders!

Discover how you and your church can help black people in the Mid-South (MS, LA, AL, AR, TN) to build wealth with the money you don’t give away but by depositing money into a black credit union focused on building black wealth through home loans and small business loans. Countless black families have been denied the opportunity to own a home or start a small business. The Alliance of Baptists have deposited $ 250,000 into Hope Credit Union. Members of multiple Alliance churches have invested their own personal savings. Members of one Alliance Church have together deposited over $ 200,000. One church has deposited $50,000 of the the church’s money. Come find out how you can join other Alliance members in taking this anti-racist step.

Andy Loving is a veteran social activist/financial advisor who has won multiple awards for helping investors  deposit money into institutions that serve poor people. Currently he is focused on raising deposits for Hope Credit Union, a Mississippi black-led, majority black credit union that focuses on building black wealth. He is a long-time member of Jeff St. Baptist Community at Liberty, a long-time Alliance member in Louisville, KY.

In this workshop, participants are invited to engage in a closer examination of a familiar Johannine narrative as a lens and perspective into missional practice by an Indigenous evangelist. Participants will examine ways in which cathartic conversations can assist in Decolonizing the Great Commission, and empower locals to make the good news of the gospel accessible to the whole people of God. This workshop will explore hermeneutical, dialectical, and didactic principles to maximize efficiency through practical, and missional effectiveness.

John Harris, D.Min., Ed.L.D. is the Chancellor at Wayland Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches Historical Theology, Biblical Interpretation, Boundaries & Ministerial Ethics, and Baptist History & Polity. He has served as Moderator for the Baptist Fellowship of the Northeast, Steering Committee for the Pan African Koinonia, the Missions Council of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and is General Minister and President of the Missionary Baptist Conference, USA.

This workshop offers congregations an actionable plan for re-forming based on the revitalization of Riverside Church at Park & King in Jacksonville, Florida. A true story!

The Rev. Bruce Cole has brought a spiritual journey that contains a unique mix of mysticism and connectionism to the Alliance. He is a leading thinker in mapping a sustainable future for faith communities, both inside and outside of institutional churches. Bruce has specialized in congregational transformation and church planting for 30 years. Currently, Bruce serves as the host of the A Bigger Story Podcast and Substack.

The Rev. Adam Marvel Gray serves as the Lead Pastor of Riverside Church at Park and King. He is passionate about fomenting a church movement that is radically inclusive, intersectionally justice-seeking, and sustainable in a postmodern future.

The Rev. Dr. Kenneth J. Meyers has committed his life to innovation in the area of Spiritual Formation. He has more than 40 years of congregational ministry, including serving on the Alliance staff from 2014-2019. Ken served as the Pastor of Riverside Church at Park and King from 2018-2019, and continues to serve as Pastor Emeritus.

This workshop will explore how traditional definitions of healing impose frameworks of normalcy on members of the disabled community that harm their self worth, spirituality and sense of belonging. We will redefine healing and disability so that all members of our community might feel welcomed and whole.

Rev. Dr. Milton James Keys is a preacher, teacher, and producer.  As a disability theologian and advocate Keys seeks to build the beloved community by helping churches become welcoming and accessible to people with disabilities.

This workshop will engage in a deepening conversation with our partners from the Fraternidad de Iglesias Bautistas de Cuba. Rev. Waldemar Murguido and Santiago Conrado Delgado Castillo will lead a conversation with leaders from various churches and positions around Cuba including Rev. Ernesto Bázan, Marisol Rojas, Revd. Eduardo González Hernández, Queen Escobar, Rev. Noel Osvaldo, and Ormara Nolla. Join us to deepen your understanding of the present challenges and opportunities with the work of our Cuba partners.

Rev. Waldemar Murguido Sánchez Quirós, Matanzas, Matanzas, Cuba, serves as Vice President of the Fraternity of Baptist Churches of Cuba (FIBAC) and as Pastor at the ¨Juan F Naranjo¨ Baptist Church of Oliva, Matanzas, Cuba. His work centers around the theology and economics of funding mission work in Cuba.

Santiago Conrado Delgado Castillo, is member of the “Del Camino” Baptist Church in Guanajay, Artemisa, Pastor, Popular Educator, Pedagogue, Theologian and Community Development Project Manager, currently Executive Secretary of the FIBAC and General Coordinator of the Human Development Promotion Program (PPDH).

This workshop introduces participants to the transition from a traditional lead pastor model to a circle leadership model. We will discuss how democratizing ministries and ministerial roles allowed our community to then take up their own projects of liberation, further removing barriers between the church and community. We will discuss how to initiate and maintain an open pulpit model to allow many different visions to take hold in a communal space. Included in this workshop are practical tips for co-leading in racially & ethnically mixed leadership teams.

Rev. Henra Chennault, Co-Pastor at Park Avenue Baptist Church is gifted in finance working bi-vocationally in banking. He holds a Masters of Christian Ministry from McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University. He uses these giftings to uplift community organizations and organized finances on behalf of the church. Henra is an incredible chef, both for his family at home and church. Henra is also a former college football player and boxer.

Rev. Darci Jaret, Co-Pastor at Park Avenue Baptist Church is a case manager and focuses on building communities of care within and outside of PABC for those impacted in the criminal legal system and who have experienced homelessness. They are a trans-nonbinary human and a parent with a Master’s of Divinity from Candler School of Theology. Darci’s call to ministry is characterized by open theological seeking through, creative expression, poetry, visual art and centering prayer.

Matthew Johnson serves as Activist Chaplain in Residence at Park Avenue. Matthew’s call to ministry has always been intertwined with a calling to organize and advocate for the dispossessed. Matthew received a Master of Divinity from the University of Chicago. He serves as the Executive Director of Beloved Community Ministries (@belovedcommune) to create sustainable and resilient forms of resistance and new worldmaking with community partners in the Atlanta Area.

Rev. Keyanna Jones, Co-Pastor at Park Avenue Baptist Church is a Social Justice Activist and Community Organizer in Atlanta, Georgia. She is an ordained minister and proprietor of E Equals MC Squared Educational Services, LLC, where she works as a Homeschool Curriculum Consultant, IEP Advocate and German Translator. Keyanna is the wife of Jerrod Moore and mother to their 5 unique and extraordinary children.

This workshop is an opportunity for Baptist clergy and lay leaders to co-create a proactive strategy for advocacy against Christin nationalism. Christian nationalism is a political ideology and cultural framework that often provides cover for white supremacy, and merges Christian and American identities. As Baptists, the fight against the destructive powers of Christian nationalism is in our Baptist legacy of dissent and advocacy for religious freedom. Through interactive discussions, we’ll define Christian nationalism, identify local assets, strategize for action, and discuss how to scale our movement nationally, particularly given the urgency of the upcoming presidential election and the need to counter harmful legislation.

Georgia McKee (she/her) is digital communications associate at BJC and manages the Christians Against Christian Nationalism (@endchristiannationalism) Instagram and TikTok accounts.

Every church has a history. Each history has stories of both resistance and acquiescence to the dominant politics of their time and place. This workshop will help religious leaders think through the importance of understanding their community’s history. The Alliance of Baptists commitment to anti-racism necessitates untangling and dismantling the systems of racism and white supremacy that have shaped religious institutions in the United States since its founding. To effectively participate in this work requires understanding the history of our congregations and institutions. We will provide suggestions and insights for doing congregational history well, and for applying it to ministry.

Andrew Gardner is a Lecturer of Religious Studies and Philosophy at LaGrange College. He is the author of Reimagining Zion: A History of the Alliance of Baptists (2015) and Binkley: A Congregational History (2023).

Greg Jarrell is an author and musician based in Charlotte, NC. He studies and writes about race, place, and faith, with a particular focus on Urban Renewal. Greg works as a cultural organizer in Charlotte with QC Family Tree. Greg is author of Our Trespasses: White Churches and the Taking of American Neighborhoods, published by Fortress Press (February 2024). 

How can a Land-Based Approach to Community Development & a Decolonized Reading of the Great Commission help us to see Creation as Kin? How might this help us learn from and stand with our neighbors, human and more-than-human, who bear the brunt of resource extraction and industrial pollution? In conversation with climate and environmental activists, we will explore together how we, as followers of Jesus, can partner with our neighbors in these situations, and we will leave with resources to enable solidarity actions in our local, and global communities.

Rev. Amy Brooks Paradise is an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister serving with GreenFaith, a multi-faith environmental justice organization as a community organizer. Prior to this Rev. Amy worked with the Regional Interfaith Network, Charlotte, NC and as pastor for the UU Fellowship of Lake Norman in Davidson, NC.  She is a member of the board of UUJusticeMinistry NC and the board president of the Mecklenburg Metropolitan Interfaith Network.

Rev. Stephanie Vander Lugt is the Executive Director of Kinship Plot which exists to imagine and embody resonant relationships of every kind and pursue this mission through five motifs: collaborative learning, contemplative action, formative artistry, slow cultivation, and liberatory welcome. They are enthusiasts for community, reflection-on-action, transformation, beauty, gardening, and gathering eclectic groups of people around a table.

Reflecting on the great commission from stories marked by colonization influences the history of Christianity from before and after. The evangelization brought by the Spanish crown to the indigenous lands of Latin America and the Caribbean formed a religion of dominion vs. dispossession of spiritualities and cultural identity rooted in the goodness of Mother Earth: water, flora, animals, air, fire. Through this workshop it is intended to make visible some current and structural problems suffered by indigenous communities, which must be addressed by people of faith. Together we will learn that “Today’s Great Commission” needs to be reimagined through a commitment to dialogue, to be open to the other, to listen without prejudice, to learn to love difference, to be able to create processes of accompaniment and reciprocal learning, which is born from a new Christian ethic and praxis.

Mtra. Rev. Dalia Eunice Juárez Fernández MA is a Nahuatl interfaith theologian and Baptist pastor. She has a bachelor’s degree in Indigenous Pastoral from the Baptist Seminary of Mexico (SBM), as well as a Master’s degree in Latino Ministries from Palmer Theological Seminary (USA). She serves as general director of the Mayense Intercultural Seminary (SIM) in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas-Mexico, while coordinating and accompanying the COSTIAY (Community of Indigenous Theologians of Abya Yala).

This workshop will inspire Seniors and Ministers to Seniors to reimagine their church’s ministry to Seniors. Inspired by Mahan Siler’s vision for Elders and based on the work of Carl Jung, Jungian psychotherapist, Seniors at Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte have experimented for over two years with programming that moves beyond occasional lunches and out-of-town trips for Seniors. Recognizing specific developmental tasks for the third stage of life, new programming provides opportunities and support for seniors to place themselves on a personal and spiritual development journey that moves them from Senior to Elder.

For 30 years Betsy worked with Head Start, Smart Start, and other child care programs to improve the quality of care for children. Upon retirement, Betsy turned her attention to a later stage of life, Elders.  For the past two years, she has been researching the third stage of life as described by Carl Jung and assisting her church, Myers Park Baptist Church, in reimaging programming for seniors that moves far beyond occasional meals and travel.

Rev. Gary Hudson was Chaplain at Southminster Retirement for 14 years. He served as Pastoral Associate at Myers Park Baptist Church for 10+ years. Now in retirement, he is enjoying his grandchildren and serving as the Chair of the MPBC Sage-ing Committee. He and his wife, Nancy, just recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

This workshop will explain succinctly how Palestine has been colonized and what – in true partnership with Palestinians – we are called to do about it. It will also offer updates on the effects of Israel’s War on Gaza (and all Palestine). We will share the work of churches who have taken the Apartheid-Free pledge, and offer ideas for how your faith community can participate in the work of freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians, Israelis and people in the United States.

Rev. Dr. Allison J Tanner is the convener of the Justice for Palestine and Israel Community and the Palestine Advocacy Representative for the Alliance of Baptists. Rev. Tanner is a pastor, organizer and educator ministering as Pastor of Public Witness at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland, California. She also works for American Friends Service Committee as the National Organizer of the Apartheid-Free Communities initiative.