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Members of Royal Lane Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas on a post-hurricane mission trip in 2017. Learn more about growth at the church in Voices below.
Voices

Church growth is a sham
 
by Michael L. Gregg

Church growth is a sham, and on most days I believe this to be true.
 
As a minister for more than 15 years in small progressive churches, I am aware that most liberal churches, especially Baptist ones, will never be considered megachurches. For me this leads to the haunting feeling that progressive Baptist and other mainline churches are declining. Maybe that's true. With that in mind, I also am aware that the terminology has changed and we tend to speak more of church health rather than church growth. And again, on most days, I still believe this to be true.
 
But, I have noticed that the church where I pastor is, remarkably, in a season of growth. Over the last 18 months Royal Lane Baptist Church has added more than 50 new members, along with many others who regularly attend but don't necessarily subscribe to the boundaries of official membership.

Around the Alliance

A real treat

by Kate Perry

I wasn't going to sign up. 

I had been lured to
the mountains one too many times by the promise of renewal in a picturesque setting. But after a dear friend's gentle nudging I registered and thought, "Regardless of how packed the schedule will be, I'll at least se e a mountain, and that ought to soothe my soul."

The Alliance of Baptists' CAIRN (
Clergy Affiliate Information & Resource Network) retreat Jan. 28-31 at Lutheridge Camp and Conference Center in Arden, N.C. was all it was marketed to be and more.
 
There was time for fellowship and friend-making -- my favorite -- and the large-group discussion of Internal Family Systems (IFS) sparked a renewed commitment to self-grace and awareness. We were invited to dive in to ourselves and pour in even a fraction of the care and compassion we so freely give over to those we serve. 

CAIRN participants engaged with one another.

News and Analysis

Cuba's historic crossroads
 
by Stan Hastey
 
Cuba stands at a crossroads unlike any other in the 59 years since a rebel army headed by Fidel Castro and his younger brother, Raul, defeated the supposedly far superior armed forces under the command of Fulgencio Batista.
 
Batista, the last in a series of corrupt and repressive Cuban presidents backed and kept in power by the United States for the previous half century, fled the island nation as three columns of rebel soldiers bore down on Havana during Christmas week 1958. Declaring victory on New Year's Day 1959, the three commanding officers - Raul Castro, Ernesto (Che) Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos - welcomed Fidel to Havana one week later, where the charismatic leader formally declared victory before a massive crowd of supporters convinced that a new day had dawned on the economically and educationally deprived nation.
 
Among the undeniably significant achievements of the Castro brothers' revolution have been the virtual elimination of illiteracy by means of a system of public education funded and overseen by the government from kindergarten through university graduate studies, and a public health system premised on prevention that boasts a lower infant mortality rate than that of the United States. These are measurable successes.

Cuban President Raul Castro (AP Photo)
Alliance News

Thanks for a great 2017!

by Leslie Withers 
 
Financially, 2017 was a very good year for the Alliance of Baptists. 
 
The board had voted to adopt an "aspirational" budget. We knew we needed to make substantial improvements to our website, our "virtual home," since we don't have a main office people can drop in to when they're in town. Deployed staff work from home offices across the country, so the best way for people to "visit" us is on the web.
 
The website needed updating, so the board agreed to spend money accrued in previous years, counting it as an investment in our future. Our budget projected about $614,00 in income and $620,00 in expenses. That's not a balanced budget, but it was an investment in the future. 

Thanks to that investment, plus the dedication and skills of our communications staff, the Alliance website is a more attractive and user-friendly virtual home. 


Alliance Annual Gathering


A climate camp, robust workshops, spirit-filled preaching and fellowship are just some of the features of the Alliance of Baptists'  2018 Annual Gathering April 26-29 in Dayton, Ohio. The theme: "Earth: Beloved Community." Register now!

Gun Violence 
Resources


Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence is spearheading a campaign urging faith leaders to speak out and take action against gun violence, and has provided various resources to aid in that effort.


Advocacy Partner Highlight


Registration is open for  Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2018 , a national justice and advocacy gathering. The event will take place  April 20-23 in the Washington, D.C. area. The theme: "A World Uprooted: Responding to Migrants, Refugees and Displaced People"

Summer Communities 
of Service


Know a young adult looking for a meaningful summer learning and service opportunity? Point them in the direction of Summer Communities of Service, an ecumenical collaboration between UCC Volunteer Ministries and the Alliance of Baptists. 


New Literary Resource


Explore this new book written by Alliance Board Member Jim  Dant. He said he wrote This I Know: A Simple Biblical Defense for LGBTQ Christians because he wanted his "LGBTQ brothers and sisters to know, Jesus loves them and the Bible says no different."

Ecumenical Partner Highlight

Make plans to participate in the kick-off of Act Now: Unite to End Racism , an initiative of the National Council of Churches supported by the Alliance. Events April 3-5 in Washington, D.C., will include a worship service at St. Sophia's Greek Orthodox Cathedral on April 3; an interfaith service at the Lincoln Memorial the 
morning of April 4, a rally on the National Mall later in the day, and a time of commitment at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the evening; and a day of advocacy on Capitol Hill April 5. To join the Alliance in the effort, email paula@allianceofbaptists.org.


Calendar

Feb. 25 - Ken Meyers will speak and teach at Covenant Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas.

Feb. 26-27 - Ken Meyers will attend ChurchWorks 2018 in San Antonio, Texas.

March 5 - Jason Smith will attend an executive committee meeting of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in  Washington, D.C.

The Alliance of Baptists is a vibrant movement of people, faith communities and ministry partners who are deeply passionate about ecumenism, partnership in mission, relentless hospitality and social justice.

Leadership Team
Carole Collins, director of operations & finance
Paula Clayton Dempsey, director of partnership relations

Staff
Cathy McGaughey, operations specialist
Ken Meyers, faith formation specialist
Kristy Pullen, website specialist
Toya Richards, communications specialist
Jason Smith, congregational engagement specialist