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A year like no other!

from Mayra Picos Lee, BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz Board President


December 27, 2018

Here we are again at the end of another year that has brought as many possibilities as challenges for peacemaking in North America and throughout the world. Yet, this coming year, 2019, promises to be a year like no other in the life of BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz!

At the end of 2016, I said to you that I believed God was calling us to face our fears as an organization and to recommit to the kind of love that endures all things. I said this because the path of transformation is always the result of painful journeying, dislocating and relocating in ways to grow our hearts to love more as God loves; transformation is an act of courage!

At the end of 2017, I offered an invitation to be more courageous as we worked together toward building and sustaining our hopes and dreams for the future of our organization; knowing that some of these hopes involve our commitment to dismantle our organization’s own systemic racism in order to become an antiracist community of peacemakers. This is a huge and extremely important commitment as we are seeing new and horrific levels of oppression, racism and abuse of the most vulnerable by structures and institutions that are imbedded in racist and oppressive histories. Thus, our peacemaking commitment needs to go much more deeper to search our own collective soul and to reflect on our own organizational structure and the ways in which we need to dismantle its own racism and oppression. It is hard but extremely important work that is leading us toward significant changes!

I also said to you last year that these commitments require time and patient endurance because we need to let go of many good things that have sustained our organizational structure to embrace new ones; and that we will need to learn and relearn that this process of letting go of the old and embracing the new is filled with uncertainty, anxiety, hopes and expectations that need to be held together by our community in a contemplative and non-dualistic stance. 

Now, at the end of 2018, I will tell you about some very significant changes that are taking place in our beloved community for 2019 that are signs of the ways in which our community is changing and being transformed.

One of the most important changes comes with the departure of our beloved Executive Director, LeDayne McLeese Polaski, at the end of May 2019. After serving our organization for twenty years, LeDayne has decided to seek new possibilities for her own professional growth and has opened the path for BPFNA~Bautistas por la Paz to seek out new leadership that will help us to expand our organizational commitments even further. With LeDayne’s departure, the board has announced that we will be seeking an interim Executive Director to lead the organization for the next two years, with the intention to use this time to continue discerning the ways in which BPFNA~Bautistas por la Paz needs to decenter power and privilege in order to center marginalized voices and perspectives.

Another exciting change is taking place during the summer 2019. In an effort to continue pushing our relational boundaries to embrace the global south, the board committed to participate in the planning of the 2019 Global Baptist Peace Conference (GBPC) in Cali, Colombia in July. The GBPC will take the place of our annual summer conference and allow us to expand more widely our peacemaking gathering to include people from all corners of the world. This is a fantastic opportunity that is coming at such a time as this in which we are seeking new ways of growing our peacemaking community to love more as God does which is infinitely!

This fall the board also affirmed another important structural change concerning the size of the board of directors. Over the years as we have been working toward expanding our mission to become more diverse, dismantle our own internal white supremacy and  become more engaged with marginalized voices and perspectives, we have been aware of the need to reorganize the work and configuration of the board of directors to support this growth; and thus, at our 2018 fall meeting, the board of directors unanimously agreed to reduce the size of the board to 12 members which includes two Youth and Young Adult (TYAYA) representatives. The truth is that this change has been taking place over the years because financial and practical realities have proven that having a larger board as we once did is not functional, practical or sustainable to support our mission. Thus, little by little, we have been moving toward a smaller board which is helping us to improve our level of accountability, collegiality and the ability to work together as a group to support the staff, membership and the growth of our mission.  Reducing the size of the board has also allowed us to spend more time seeking new board members who are able to expand the diversity and new vision that is growing in our midst.

Finally, at our spring meeting, the board unanimously agreed to move the publication of the Baptist Peacemaker to a fully bilingual--Spanish and English--publication by summer 2019. For more than a year now, we have been publishing some articles and news in Spanish to reflect the realities and contexts of new members and communities. Yet, we want to grow our commitment to support language equality even further and thus, we will be publishing the magazine half in English and half in Spanish by summer 2019.  This is a very exciting change that opens new possibilities for the life of our organization! It also shows that we are indeed willing to let go of our beloved publication as we once knew it to grow in our support for our new linguistic abilities and commitments. This is a sign of courageous and radical love!

My dear friends, there are a lot of new and exciting changes happening in 2019, and many of them are the result of the faithful witness of many people over the years. 2019 is going to be a year like no other year in the life of BPFNA~Bautistas por la Paz!  It is going to be a year of movement, changes, dislocation and relocation that will indeed grow our commitment for peace and justice throughout the world! It is a year that is going to be as exciting as it may be scary because we are daring to go where we have not gone before as an organization--just as we did when we celebrated our very first summer conference in Campo Mazahua, Mexico in the summer 2017; and after we did and because we did, we are now on our way to celebrating a new global summer conference in Cali, Colombia for 2019 that will bring together peacemakers from all around the world.

2019 is the year to recommit ourselves with all of our hearts, bodies and souls to root our peacemaking efforts in the practice of courageous and radical love. God is calling us to be a community of people who are moved into risky action by the depth of our hearts. God is calling us to grow in love because love never ends!

Once more we are in the season where we remember and celebrate the miracle of love incarnate. We celebrate that the Big Love has shown us the way to radical and courageous love by taking on our human form and giving itself generously; we celebrate we are in God as much as God is in us loving the world and each member of our human family.

We remember that a baby was born into the world as an expression of the beautiful vulnerability and power of divine and human connection that we call love; we remember that God waits kindly and patiently for all of us to grow into a more courageous community that embodies peace and justice even more; and we remember that radical love always makes room for the birth of new life that is a deeper reflection of God in the world because love never ends. This is the hope that abides in our midst and the miracle of love incarnate!

My dear friends, God in us and we in God will make this possible for 2019!

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