General CBF

Seminary student reflects on 2013 General Assembly theme – “With Great Boldness”

CBF General Assembly is near and the theme of 2013 Assembly is “With Great Boldness” following 2 Corinthians 3:12 – “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.”

Today’s guest post on this year’s theme is from Lauren McDuffie, a student at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, Tenn.

As I take a break from the last paper of my second year in seminary, I think about the past LaurenMcDuffieweek of reading, writing and cramming. I think about the past semester spent in classrooms on campus at Vanderbilt Divinity School and at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison, and the truly unforgettable and formational experiences in both settings.

I think about the past two years of coursework and reading and writing and testing that has gotten me better than halfway toward a Master of Divinity degree. I think about all the hard work, all the late nights and early mornings and library books and deadlines and work-study hours and adviser meetings.

And I especially think about how only one more year of this stands between me and graduation, ordination and a career in ministry. What a journey it has been and will continue to be. Sometimes I wonder, how could I possibly have managed this?

I’m a lifelong CBFer. As a 24-year-old seminarian, I don’t have any real memory of a time when the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship did not exist and I was not a part of it. Ever since a great cloud of witnesses took the leap to create the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in 1991, the Fellowship has been the water I’ve been swimming in.

As a child, I watched women being ordained into the deaconate and the ministry. I heard sermons that taught me I was equally loved by God, and I watched the mission of being church lived out in a way that was formative and life-giving rather than imposing.

When I came to college at Vanderbilt University and started visiting a Baptist church with the same values that environment continued to envelop me as I started out on my own, in pursuit of the call on my life which had already been evident for years.

As I sought to develop experience in ministry, CBF’s Collegiate Congregational Ministry program gave me space to grow and develop pastoral skills and to connect with the most amazing network of young students, now young seminarians, who will be the next generation of Baptist ministers and leaders.

And placement in summer ministerial settings by CBF affirmed in me that I am called and that my community of faith believes I am called.

I have certainly heard plenty of disparaging voices toward my call to ministry, but I’ve never paid them much attention, because regardless of what I heard outside, I have always been part of a community of faith where my call to ministry as a woman of God was affirmed.

I am empowered to live into my call with great boldness, because 22 years ago a group of ministers and lay people, committed to the ideals of being authentically Baptist, declared their intention to live into the future they envisioned with great boldness.

I acknowledge that as I prepare to pursue my ordination and graduation, this is the legacy I am inheriting. I am proud to be deeply immersed in my identity as a Baptist and my history as a part of the CBF.

But CBF isn’t just the water I’ve been swimming in, it’s the support that has kept me swimming.

However that water hasn’t always been perfect. There have been moments when I’ve wondered if we would ever get past defining ourselves by who we are not, rather than by who we are.

There have been chances to be taken from which we seem to shy away. I have sometimes wondered if I and my generation are moving too fast and the CBF is just not ready to keep up.

It’s hard to say it, but more than once, I’ve almost walked away.

But I know that I am where I am today because of all of you. So when I look at our community and believe that we’re not where we could be, I don’t run away. I stay with my family and strive to make us better.

And in the past few years, I have grown more and more hopeful that we are brave enough for the challenges ahead, in the next 20 years, 40 years, 60 years of being the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

We were born out of great boldness. I hope when we say that we want to live into the future with great boldness, we mean it.

I hope that when we say we want to embrace the great boldness of future generations of leaders, we mean it.

I hope that no matter how proud we are of our success in opening the pulpit to all who are called, we are brave enough to acknowledge that the task is not done.

We’ve come this far by faith, but we’re not done yet.  Not by a long shot.  And that’s good news.  Because with great boldness, there is no limit to who we can be.

We would love to hear from other members of the Fellowship family and feature YOUR reflections on CBF and this year’s Boldness theme here at  Send your Great Boldness reflections to Aaron Weaver –

Previous posts from With Great Boldness blog series:

Steering Committee members look forward to upcoming CBF General Assembly in Greensboro, N.C. (June 26-28) [April 29, 2013]

19 thoughts on “Seminary student reflects on 2013 General Assembly theme – “With Great Boldness”

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