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. Click HERE to read the latest update on THRIVE!

Prophetic Imagination

This fall for our Prophetic Imagination gatherings we will be engaging the rich history of prophetic preaching, especially found in the Black and Womanist theological traditions. For our first session, Alliance co-director, Rev. Elijah Zehyoue, Ph.D., will lead us in a seminar which will serve as an overview of prophetic preaching from the Black Liberation perspective. This seminar will take place on September 27, 2023. To register, click HERE.

In the second session on October 18, Min. Alexis Tardy, an organizer and Womanist theologian, will offer an overview of prophetic preaching from the Womanist perspective. These two exciting sessions will be a great opportunity to deepen your understanding of the Black and Womanist Traditions while also gaining valuable resources on how prophetic preaching and teaching can transform your faith community.

It is also worth saying that these sessions are not just for preachers! We encourage your entire congregation to join us or any groups within your community who might be interested in learning about prophetic preaching and how the Black and Womanist traditions can be incorporated across our faith life as worship, bible study, faith formation, or personal development. We look forward to seeing you this fall for these gatherings. In the meantime, you can learn more about Prophetic Imagination by watching the previous seminars below.

The THRIVE Cohort

Five-Year Project Design

2021: 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.
2022: 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.
2023: 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.
2024: Observation—Conduct a follow-up survey of cohort congregations carefully assessing impact of initiatives for addressing racialized structures from individual awareness to organizational operations.
2025: 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 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.

Alexis Tardy joined the Alliance staff in the summer of 2023, working with our THRIVE cohort. Before returning to Indianapolis in 2020, Alexis led as the Program Director at Faith and For the Sake of All, where she organized trainings and workshops to end racial disparities in Saint Louis. While in St. Louis,  Alexis was deeply impacted by the protest in Ferguson following the death of Michael Brown, Jr.  As a consultant for Urban Strategies, she mentored youth and worked with families and community leaders in Ferguson, Missouri. Alexis earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary in Saint Louis, Missouri. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry in Womanist Preaching degree at Memphis Theological Seminary.

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.