Remembering Millard Eiland

Dec. 5, 1933--July 28, 2018

by Paula Clayton Dempsey 

Among the good that Millard Eiland did while on his passage through this world was his role in visioning and enabling the work and ministry of the Alliance of Baptists. With gratitude for his life, his courage, his vulnerability, the Alliance mourns the death of Millard, and we share our sorrow with Millard’s partner/spouse, David Taylor; his daughters and his faith family at Alliance congregational partner Covenant Church in Houston, Texas.

Millard joined the board of directors of the Alliance in the early 1990s just as the question emerged center stage: How will we be in relationship with our gay/lesbian members? With Millard’s leadership and assistance, the Alliance responded to the challenge to develop an open, ethical, redemptive Christian relationship with our LGBTQ siblings—as individuals and as the body of Christ.

Mahan Siler writes, “For me, Millard put a body, face and voice to this question. His spirit, life experience and commitment to the Alliance made it easy, indeed imperative, for our young network of bruised Baptists to take a clear stand for an inclusive embrace—even if it cost our continuance. Millard was key in this risk for just-relationships.”

“Millard’s willingness to speak openly and honestly about his own journey made a profound impact on me and on the Alliance,” observes Jeannette Holt. “Until that time I had never observed or participated in honest, open give-and-take around this question.” 

Millard’s commitment to foster honest and informed conversation about the church’s relationship to its LGBTQ members was codified as he co-authored the volume Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, a work designed to aid congregations in their exploration and discernment of inclusion and just-relationships.

The Alliance’s identity as welcoming and affirming of LGBTQ persons is credited, in large part, to Millard’s leadership, commitment and companionship on the journey. At every gathering of the Alliance, Mahan Siler reflects, “I looked for him, for that hug that conveyed remembrance and celebration. He was the Alliance at our best.”

As we remember Millard’s life, love and leadership, we are reminded of the poem attributed to William Penn, and are inspired to not defer or neglect any good we can do.

I expect to pass through this world but once.
Any good therefore that I can do,
or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature,
let me do it now.
I expect to pass through this world but once.
Any good therefore that I can do,
let me not defer it,
let me not neglect it,
for I shall not pass this way again.
—Attributed to William Penn and adapted by Len Handler

Paula Clayton Dempsey is director of partnership relations for the Alliance of Baptists.

Stay in the Loop

Stay up to date with everything happening with the Alliance of Baptists!