I love Baptist meetings. No really. I love going to Baptist meetings. And I especially like the meetings in which I have opportunity to hear the stories of those around me. I love sitting at a table, listening to new friends tell me their family stories, their faith stories, their call stories.  I delight in making connections between their stories and my own. I also find joy in discovering how people’s stories fit into the greater Baptist story.

I always, always find that as Baptists, as people of faith, our stories are interwoven into that larger story, the story that God has been writing in this world since its beginning, the story God continues to write.

This week I will have the privilege of attending one of those Baptist meetings–the New Baptist Covenant Summit in Atlanta. The beauty of this gathering is that Baptists from across the country will be here in my city (and I can come home at night and sleep in my own bed). At the Summit, we will come together to talk about and work on transformation and unity across racial divides. We will sit at tables, listen to one another, be guided in our conversations and in our worship by some remarkable folks, and we dream and plan into our shared future. By the time we walk away on Thursday late afternoon, there will be specific goals that will have been set, plans that will have been made, and covenants of action that will have been signed.

Recent events in our nation certainly confirm that we must do better, we must do more in the area of racial justice. My own conviction is that change will come, justice will unfold only as we talk to one another, as we share our stories with one another, as we listen to each other. I am thankful for a Baptist meeting that intentionally offers space and time for us to hear the stories of Baptist brothers and sisters. I am thankful for a Baptist meeting that will call me to action, to commit myself to work alongside others to bring change.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on us, because he has anointed us to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent us to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19

Pam Durso is executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia.