Churches that THRIVE for Racial Justice

The Alliance of Baptists in collaboration with 26 congregational partners, sociologists of race and religion and the Lilly Endowment are engaged in a five-year project to actively confront structures of racism in order to remove a crucial obstacle to congregational thriving. We believe that the church will thrive as it commits to working to the thriving of all—no exceptions.

Five-Year Project Design

Year 1: Observation—Includes a survey of the Alliance and the cohort congregations in order to develop a more complete understanding of racialized structures and how they operate in the local ministry context.
Year 2: Evaluation and Reflection—Drawing on survey findings, the cohort churches develop a more complete ideation of structural racism in their context and are challenged to creatively and strategically draw from the Baptist theological tradition to address whiteness and enact anti-racism.
Year 3: Revision—A broad implementation of congregational initiatives is enacted in cohort congregations, among them is purposeful facilitation and implementation of programmatic dialogues, liturgy, messages and other ministry activities and groups focused on antiracism.
Year 4: Observation—Conduct a follow-up survey of cohort congregations carefully assessing impact of initiatives for addressing racialized structures from individual awareness to organizational operations.
Year 5: Reporting—Share findings with the cohort and larger constituency at both the local and denominational levels including a highlight of pastoral resources and concerns.

The THRIVE Cohort

Calvary Baptist Church, Denver, Colo.
Central Baptist Church, Lexington, Ky.
Circle of Faith, St. Petersburg, Fla.
College Park Baptist Church, Greensboro, N.C.
Emmanuel Baptist Church, Albany, N.Y.
First Austin, Austin, Texas
First Baptist Church, Columbia, Mo.
First Baptist Church, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
First Baptist Church, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
First Baptist Church, Madison, Wis.
First Baptist Church of Salt Lake City, Utah
First Baptist Church, Worcester, Mass.
First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.
Glendale Baptist Church, Nashville, Tenn.
Highland Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.
Judson Memorial Church, New York, N.Y.
Lake Street Church of Evanston, Ill.
Myers Park Baptist Church, Charlotte, N.C.
Old Cambridge Baptist Church, Cambridge, Mass.
Peace Community Church Oberlin, Ohio
Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, N.C.
Ravensworth Baptist Church, Annandale, Va.
Royal Lane Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas
University Baptist Church, Hattiesburg, Miss.
University Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minn.
Washington Plaza Baptist Church, Reston, Va.

The THRIVE Team of Directors

Kevin D. Dougherty is associate professor of sociology at Baylor University, Waco, Texas where he is an award-winning teacher and researcher. He has studied and written about religious affiliation, religious participation, racial diversity in religious organizations, as well as congregational growth and decline. His published research appears in leading academic journals and has been featured in major news outlets.

Reverend Malu Fairley-Collins (she/they) joined the Alliance community in 2010. They have been recognized as clergy and endorsed by the Alliance since 2012. Within the Alliance they have served in several capacities including the Covenant Mission Statement Revisioning Team, the Racial Justice Task Group/Implementation Group and on the board. Malu is a board certified chaplain and an ACPE Certified Educator. She has an MDiv from Candler School of Theology of Emory University and a BA from Spelman College. Malu is happily married to Ezra Fairley-Collins (he/his) and resides with her family in Charlotte NC, where they enjoy time in nature, hanging out with friends and serving on a local non-profit board.

Gerardo Marti is William R. Kenan professor of sociology at Davidson College, Davidson, N.C., and the architect of the Churches that THRIVE for Racial Justice project. He is also the author of several books including American Blindspot: Race, Class, Religion, and the Trump Presidency (2020). He worships at congregational partner Myers Park Baptist Church, Charlotte, N.C.

Mark T. Mulder is professor of sociology at Calvin University, Grand Rapids, Mich., and focuses his work on urban congregations and their changing racial-ethnic demographics. Among his most recent publications is his book The Glass Church: Robert H. Schuller, the Crystal Cathedral, and the Strain of Megachurch Ministry.

Reverend Elijah R. Zehyoue serves as the Co-Director of the Alliance of Baptists. In this role, he is leading them through an effort to become an anti-racist organization. As a historian, theologian, pastor, preacher, and teacher, Elijah is committed to using his many gifts to help people of all walks of life do the head, heart, and soul work required for our collective liberation. He is a graduate of Morehouse College (B.A.) and the University of Chicago (M.Div.), and he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in African History at Howard University where he is writing a dissertation on the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and the Origins of the Conflict in Liberia. Additionally, Elijah teaches African and African American Studies at Georgetown University. Prior to coming to the Alliance, Elijah served on the pastoral staff at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Elijah is originally from Liberia, West Africa and grew up in Baton Rouge, La.

Give today to support the ongoing work for racial justice in the Alliance of Baptists and among our congregational partners.