by Lisa Dunson
A few weekends ago, on April 23 and 24, the 2021 Alliance of Baptists Annual Gathering took place via Zoom and I for one thought it was a wonderful, thought-provoking, engaging, and soul-searching experience! The theme of the Gathering was “How Then Shall We Live?” As I have without intention or effort, continued to contemplate this question, I have come to realize just how much weight this question really carries: How then shall we live?
With reports daily of black and brown bodies being killed at the hands of police officers who shoot first and attempt to ask questions later—when later, more times than not, is too late as questions cannot be asked of the dead—how then shall we live? When mass shooting after mass shooting breaks into those spaces where we are supposed to feel safe, our jobs, our schools, our places of business and yes, even our churches, and in a matter of seconds interrupts and disrupts the normality of our everyday living, how then shall we live? When my right to vote must be renewed and reauthorized and yours does not, how then shall we live? When I go to the ‘corner store’ for a pack of skittles and an iced tea, and I’m stalked and then shot to death on my way home because you think I don’t look like I belong in that neighborhood, how then shall we live? When the color of my skin threatens you and causes you to fear me, how then shall we live?
How then shall we live? That is the question that I admit I do not have an answer for right now, and I don’t know that we as the Alliance of Baptists have the answer right now either. What I do know is that we had the courage to ask the question and that many of you who do not identify as BIPOC, had the courage to be in conversation with both those who look like you and those who don’t during the Gathering to begin the hard and uncomfortable work of uncovering, understanding and naming where you are in the question as you ‘out’ the biases that you may or may not have realized you were harboring.
So how then shall we live as the Alliance of Baptists picks up and lives out the call to be an antiracist organization? How then shall we live without the fear of what we will see should we find the courage to put on the ‘lens of the other’ in order to see life through their eyes?
How then shall I live if my name is Tamir, Sandra, Orlando, Andrew, Michael, Breana, Dante’, Atatiana, Philando, George or Lisa? How then shall you live when you go back to the safety of your families, friends, congregations, and communities?
How then shall we live? This is our collective call to action. How then…shall we live?
Rev. Lisa Dunson received her Master of Divinity from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology in Richmond, Virginia and serves on the ministerial team at Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ. She currently chairs the African American Women in Ministry (AAWIM) Global Engagement Committee, serves as the liaison to the United Congregational Churches of Southern Africa’s Women at the Well Ministry and is a member of the Steering Committee for the AAWIM Potomac Association Sister Circle. Rev. Dunson has served the Alliance of Baptists as a member of the Nominating Committee, the Board of Directors’ Racial Justice Implementation Group and is an incoming member of the Board of Directors