Reflections from the Board

By Lisa Dunson

Greetings Alliance Family,

I continue to give God thanks for allowing me to serve as your President. As God’s ways are always greater than ours, I am still in awe that God chose me for “such a time as this” in the life of the Alliance of Baptists. I am both humbled and honored to be in service with folx who are committed to the work of the Alliance of Baptists as we do our collective part to identify, address and dismantle racism and white supremacy within the Alliance of Baptists, our faith communities, our ministry partners, and ourselves. 

This year, as we did in 2023, we convened the Board of Directors together in a virtual meeting followed by an in-person meeting in Charlotte. Unbeknownst to us in our planning, I believe it was both important and imperative for us to structure our Board meetings this way because it allowed us time to have an honest and difficult conversation virtually, followed by a time for personal reflection and additional pocket conversations. This allowed us to then come together in Charlotte with a renewed sense of purpose, understanding, grace and commitment to and for each other and to and for the work we had before us. Our virtual Board meeting set us up to have a collaborative, interactive and most importantly, productive in-person meeting. 

The energy, engagement and commitment of each member present was palpable and confirmed for me that we have the right people at the table and everything we need collectively to further the vision, the mission, and the work of our beloved Alliance of Baptists.

The Alliance’s Board of Directors includes many new faces after this year’s annual meeting. In Charlotte, the membership affirmed six new members to the Board. Raimundo Barreto (Princeton, NJ), James Lamkin (Memphis, TN), Chalice Overy (Raleigh, NC), Courtney Pace (Memphis, TN), and Molly Brummett Wudel (Durham, NC) were affirmed for their first full three-year term. Additionally, Nick Mumejian (Waco, TX) was affirmed for a two-year term, filling the seat of Andrew Gardner (LaGrange, GA) who begins serving his first term as Secretary. Andy Loving (Louisville, KY) will begin his first full term on the board after filling a one-year term. 

The Board celebrated the service of Cathy Tamsberg (Raleigh, NC) and Michael Ray-Mathews (San Jose, CA) who ended their time of service as Secretary and Past-President respectively. We are also grateful for the work of Lacette Cross (Richmond, VA), Darrell Hamilton II (Jamaica Plain, NY), and Jo Ann Alley (Monroe, LA) who rotated off the Board. 

During its spring meeting ahead of the Annual Gathering, the Board discussed many issues facing the Alliance. Over the past year the organization has experienced significant financial difficulty. Amidst the financial challenges we experienced over the last calendar year, the Board celebrated the reception of a three-year grant from the Baugh Foundation that will further the work of the Alliance. We remain grateful for the support of the Baugh Foundation and their willingness to support the Alliance’s work of antiracism. We also recognize that there is still much work to be done.

The Board heard an update from the THRIVE project that continues into its fourth year. Many Alliance congregations are participating within this project, which is yielding important research and conversations about the work of antiracism in local congregations.

Additionally, we held difficult conversations about the organization’s staffing. Over the past year, the Alliance staff lost Malu Fairley-Collins and Dejon Campbell and celebrated the contributions of Cathy McGaughey as she retired. The loss of these staff members coupled with the organization’s financial strain has placed significant pressure on the remaining staff. The Board discussed ways in which we could support the Alliance staff, and we renewed our commitment to the work of the Alliance.

At the Annual Gathering, the Alliance continued its prophetic work in pursuit of decolonizing the Great Commission. During this gathering the Alliance passed three statements. The first—“A Statement on Becoming Free From Plastic Pollution”—commits the Alliance and its membership to work to limit the use of plastic in our daily lives in favor of more renewable and sustainable alternatives.

The second and third statements arise out of the Alliance’s long standing partnership with the Fraternity of Baptist Churches of Cuba. The Alliance called upon the Biden Administration to remove Cuba from the US Government “State Sponsors of Terrorism List” and to remove the designation of a “Country of Particular Concern” regarding Religious Liberty. These designations by the US Government result in unwarranted sanctions and restrictions, both of which affect the work and ministry of, as well as our partnership with, the Fraternity of Baptists.

As we enter the summer months, we invite you to join us in Montgomery, Alabama, September 19th-21st for our Fall Gathering where we will continue to interrogate the legacies of racism and white supremacy that infect our theologies and congregational practices. We hope that you will join us.

The Reverend Lisa Dunson is the President of the Alliance of Baptists Executive Committee and is a member of the Ministerial Team at Covenant Baptist UCC. She also serves as Co-Chair of the African American Women in Ministry (AAWIM) Global Engagement Committee and on the Executive Committee for the Potomac Association AAWIM.

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