The following post is from Terry Maples, CBF field coordinator for the Tennessee Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
My wife and I were away from our home in Murfreesboro, TN, for three weeks earlier this summer. First, we traveled to Fort Worth, TX, for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly. Then we headed west and north to visit our son in Colorado. Finally, we spent time with friends in Oklahoma and family in Arkansas before heading home.
Though we thoroughly enjoyed our trip west, the unseasonably hot temperatures in that part of the country made some activities, like hiking in 100+ temperatures in the mountains, challenging. No place we stayed in the beautiful state of Colorado had air conditioning which made for uncomfortable sleeping conditions.
While traveling we frequently checked on the weather back home. If it was that hot out west we knew it had to be even hotter in Middle Tennessee. Temperatures soared above 100 most of the time we were gone! We dreaded seeing the state of our yard, flowers, shrubs and trees (most planted within the past couple of years).
Our fears were confirmed! As we pulled into the driveway, we immediately saw a scorched lawn and very stressed shrubs and trees. Some shrubs died, some lost leaves, and others badly needed a drink! Job one was watering.
I was amazed to watch what happened to the Little Jane magnolias over the next few days. All four of them in our yard lost their leaves while we were away. After watering a couple of times and a steady soaking rain, these dwarf magnolias bloomed again and sprouted fresh leaves! While there were fewer blooms than in the springtime, somehow they knew it was time to bloom once more!
This process of re-blooming reminds me of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship experience in recent months and days. We said goodbye to our friend and leader Daniel Vestal. Many national staff members moved on to accept other important ministry positions during the transition. Some days I’m sure it has felt very “hot” in the Atlanta offices.
Just last week I was in Decatur, GA, meeting with state and regional coordinators, CBF staff, moderators/moderator-elects from states and regions, and members of the 2012 Task Force. The purpose of our gathering was to work through questions and provide creative feedback to the Implementation Team (the folks assigned to get the new structure recommended by the 2012 Task Force and approved in Fort Worth up and running). I’m pleased to report there was incredible energy in the room! Folks were genuinely excited about the fresh canvas in front of the Fellowship Community. These leaders were not focused on the stress of transition, instead, they relished this season of embracing our new identity statement and envisioning innovative ways to collaborate for more effective mission and ministry across the Fellowship Community.
In many ways, it feels like CBF is blooming again — even in the midst of incredible transition and change. I’m excited to see the new blooms (passionate new folks who will combine their gifts and talent with existing staff and officers) and the new leaves (new mission and ministry opportunities birthed out of our new structure). Let us confidently embrace our identity, collaborate in even greater ways, and radiate hope and joy for the future of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship!
Re-blooming is a clear sign of spiritual health and vitality. Thanks be to God for the remarkable ways in which Holy Spirit continues to work in and through Fellowship Baptists!