Building Partnerships: North America

Building Partnerships: North America

Building Partnerships: North America

Towards the end of the 2023, Luke Dowding (CEO) and Andrea King (Director, Safeguarding & Strategy) travelled first to Canada, with Luke subsequently connecting on to the USA. This trip was majority funded by an external grant-giving organisation.

Whilst in Canada, Andrea and Luke ran a series of workshops, focusing on the structure and resources available in the Creating Sanctuary materials; the safeguarding rationale underpinning the design; and the partnership with statutory agencies to ensure due diligence in the reconciling work of creating safer churches for all people, with specific focus on LGBT+ people who often experience harm in churches. This discussion continued over the following days in smaller groups of leaders, taking account of the different socio-economic and cultural needs of leaders from different parts of Canada. It resulted in a commitment to pilot these resources from leaders across Canada (see below impact and outputs).

Andrea and Luke were struck by the importance of the interconnectedness of the proposed Creating Sanctuary developments in Canada and the ongoing Truth and Reconciliation programme in Canada to make amends to First Nation (indigenous people) who have experienced significant harm and oppression in the Canadian context, following the legacy of colonialism. Faith, and in particular, Christian faith is not neutral in this context.

In addition, a series of reflective leadership questions were posed to enable space and time to begin a conversation about how experiences of marginalisation, oppression, disenfranchisement, and exclusion, could shape leadership development. More on this to come in 2024!

In the subsequent days, groups of Canadian leaders spanning different states and provinces across Canada continued these discussions with Luke and Andrea, to co-design future arrangements together.

Following these exciting few days in Canada, Luke connected on to the USA, where he met with leaders, academics, and church bodies to build out our growing North American reach, as well as enhance opportunities for the development of a global network of progressive Baptists. 

Not only did this provide an opportunity to connect with our Patron, Brandan Robertson in New York City, but it also opened doors with affirming churches and networks, and academic partners at Harvard, the Divinity School at Yale, and The Baptist Seminary of Kentucky.

In an age of Zoom and Teams, we might think that we can achieve everything that we might need to in the land of online meetings and emails. However, there remains much that can only be gained over a coffee offline. Over the entirety of the trip in North America, we gained the trust and respect of significant leaders from a variety of traditions/denominations, and a commitment to supporting our work as we grow internationally. 

As we continue to grow and reach further afield than ever before, these relationships will undoubtedly prove significant in our task to ensure that LGBT+ Christians thrive, not just survive. The use of our resources, invitations to events, and the commitment of resource to our work is a testimony to our ongoing collective efforts.


Luke Dowding and Andrea King