A Word from Bojangles Blanchard

I’d like to share a quick update regarding the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly held this past month. As you may know, I co-moderate the Affirming Network and we held an Inclusion Supper on the opening night and were expecting 40 people. We were surprised and delighted that 75 people showed up and participated in great fellowship and networking. The supper was intended to strengthen bonds between members as well as create new relationships with folks who were first attending. It was a success.

Secondly, Derek Henson and I led a working session for the Affirming Network that laid out our goals and then solicited participation and help to achieve them. We were again surprised that over 40 people attended, and we received great feedback. Many people were open and willing to participate and share their gifts/passions with the Affirming Network. In the next few weeks, we’ll be sending out a summary of the discussion and a list of to-do’s for the coming months.

Lastly, I led a workshop called, “LGBTQ Inclusion 101: A Gay, Baptist Minister’s Perspective.” I can’t lie, I was very nervous as I prepared. Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has never allowed someone from the LGBTQ community to lead a workshop on anything, especially our own inclusion. I was prepared to be glad to have 10 people attend, knowing this is still an issue with Coperative Baptist Fellowship and churches. By the time the workshop began, 50 people were seated. I was able to present all of my material and there was active participation and questions throughout from the attendees. The vast majority were very positive and genuinely interested in learning how to get started on the LGBTQ Inclusion effort in their own faith community. I’m so grateful to everyone who attended and helped me be able to present this very important workshop.

I maybe had 5 negative interactions the entire trip from some homophobes who attempted to cloak their disdain for me and LGBTQ folk in religious language. I didn’t engage them in debate but assured them that we (LGBTQ) aren’t going anywhere and I planned on using every resource I have to further our inclusion in every facet of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship life and especially in congregations throughout our denomination.

I want to personally thank each of you on the Ministry Council for your prayers, love and support. I felt each of them and continue to need your support to climb the mountain we have before us. The biggest take-away is that Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is changing…one heart at a time and the wheels are in motion with the Affirming Network.