At this year’s Annual Gathering, I was challenged, I was renewed, and I found community. I was challenged to think and see in new ways. The theme of the weekend was Earth: Beloved Community, and we looked at how stories are inseparable from the land and regions in which they occurred. From the Garden of Eden to the Cedars of Lebanon to Flint, Michigan, we explored stories of how nature and empire intertwine. In a workshop on white supremacy, I was spurred to think on a smaller scale and realize that “big things are made out of little things, and little things matter.” Like starlings in a flock, our small movements and choices can have big impacts. I found renewal in being able to leave behind the everyday tensions of home and work and simply spend the weekend learning, praying, singing, listening, laughing, worshiping and chatting with friends. I found community with my fellow Baptists. Whether it was in the Baptist Beer Garden held in the church’s courtyard, in the lunchtime community groups, or simply in the free time between events, I met new friends and reconnected with old ones. Like kids leaving summer camp, we all said goodbye with “See you next year!” We all fervently meant that “see you next year” because the next Alliance of Baptists Annual Gathering will be at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. – the church where our very own Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen began co-pastoring last year. If you’re looking to be challenged, to be renewed and to find community, go ahead and mark your calendar for April 26-28 for next year’s Annual Gathering. See you next year!

— Jennifer

Read the 2017 Annual Report online at, or look at the copy at the Front Desk.

Watch worship services from the Annual Gathering on the Alliance of Baptists Facebook page at

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