A member of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA/Bautistas por la Paz), the Gathering of Baptists, will be facilitating a virtual event titled “A Bigger Box of Crayons.”
This event will take place on April 24 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., with advance ticket purchase. The keynote speaker and host organization are based in Ontario, Canada, but the headquarters for BPFNA can be found in Charlotte. Ordained Baptist minister, Rev. David Ogilvie, has lived his entire life in Canada, visiting Charlotte on a few occasions over the years for BPFNA-related work. The BPFNA’s mission of inclusivity and justice for the LGBTQ community, people of color, immigrants, and the environment is one that Ogilvie’s current congregation at Burlington Baptist Church also values. “A Bigger Box of Crayons” was created to exemplify these LGBTQ-affirmative religious spaces.
The Gathering of Baptists selected Rev. Dr. Cal Malena to speak at this event as both a professional and a parent. “Rev. Dr. Cal Malena and I go back forty years,” Ogilvie says. “About twenty years ago at a Baptist event, Cal and I disagreed over my encouragement of more openness. Several years after that time, Cal’s daughter and son came out to him as gay.”
Ogilvie went on to explain how this development changed Malena’s approach to LGBTQ issues, emphasizing, “Now a retired Baptist minister, Cal has held important roles in churches and he’s had to work through his understanding as both a parent and pastor. The parental perspective is something that many people can identify with.” Malena’s daughter, Beth, actually served as the keynote speaker for one of the Gatherings of Baptists’ past events in October 2020. Acting as a part of Generous Space Ministries, an LGBTQ lead Baptist organization, Beth spoke about her experience as the daughter of a former conservative reverend.
Ogilvie suspects that there were others out there in the Baptist community who want to be more inclusive of those who are LGBTQ, but have been faced with denominational discouragement in their local churches.
“This [LGBTQ issues] is a topic that people do want to talk about and Zoom is a safe way to do that; especially since participants may remain anonymous,” says Ogilvie.
From its beginnings, the Gathering of Baptists have described themselves as being on the more progressive and liberal end of the theological spectrum. This fairly regional organization has reached a more national and international audience than they could have ever imagined in their infancy thirty years ago, according to Ogilvie.
Registration for “A Bigger Box of Crayons” will reflect each province in Canada will and will represent several states in the U.S. The BPFNA and the Gathering of Baptists will continue to offer virtual events after COVID-19 restrictions are no longer in place as a way to maintain the long-distance relationships created during the pandemic.