For the first time in its 31-year history, the Alliance of Baptists elected an African American person to lead its Board of Directors.
Michael-Ray Mathews of San Jose, Calif., was elected to a two-year term as president of the board on Saturday during the annual meeting held as part of the Alliance's 2018 Annual Gathering April 26-29 in Dayton, Ohio.
His election is significant in light of the Alliance's history as an organization that came out of the Southern Baptist Convention, a body with historic ties to segregation and exclusion. The Alliance adopted a statement on racism and repentance in 1990, and staff and the board have in the last year made a commitment to examining individual and organizational white supremacy and white privilege.
“I am honored to serve my Alliance family in this critical moment in our society and the world,” said Mathews, who has been an Alliance member for 17 years and previously served on the board. “What matters more than this ‘first’ moment is our collective commitment to remain awake and faithful.”
“When so many in our communities face the dragon of Empire, we seek to be Prophets of Resistance and Midwives of Beloved Community,” he said. “This ‘first’ moment will have deep and lasting significance only if we actively embody a vision for intersectional justice and healing.”
Mathews joins new officers Cathy Tamsberg of Raleigh, N.C., vice president; and Nancy Flippin of Asheville, N.C., treasurer. All of their bios, as well as information on other new board members, can be found in the Nominating Committee Report within a larger board Book of Reports.
During the second of two business meetings held during the gathering, Alliance members also voted by consensus to accept six statements on issues relevant in the world and affirmed a statement from the board on its ongoing commitment to racial justice within the Alliance.
Toya Richards is the Alliance’s communications specialist and is based in Louisville, Ky.