By Aaron Weaver
ATLANTA – On the heels of her April 20-25 tour of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship churches in Virginia, CBF executive coordinator Suzii Paynter traveled to North Carolina for another five-city tour that included stops in Asheville, Winston-Salem, Greenville, Raleigh and Charlotte between April 30-May 2.
“North Carolina CBF is a Fellowship rich with many gifts,” said Paynter. “It has been awe inspiring to meet so many talented and dedicated people.”
This whirlwind tour kicked-off with a lunch event Tuesday, April 30 at First Baptist Church of Asheville, where Guy Sales is pastor, followed by dinner at Peace Haven Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, pastored by Nathan Parrish. While in Winston-Salem, Paynter met with Gail O’Day, dean of Wake Forest University School of Divinity. The Center for Congregational Health was also represented at the Tuesday evening gathering.
The Memorial Baptist Church in Greenville and pastor Greg Bowers hosted Paynter on Wednesday, May 1, and First Baptist Church Raleigh, pastored by Chris Chapman, welcomed Paynter at a luncheon, Thursday, May 2. Representatives from Chowan University attended the Greenville gathering and representatives from Campbell University and Duke Divinity School were in attendance to greet Paynter in Raleigh.
During her trip, Paynter met with a diverse group of CBF supporters including many students, lay leaders, pastors, representatives from CBF-partner ministries, and also civic leaders.
“Ministry leaders and CBF church families have welcomed Suzii along with large numbers of students and interns from CBF-partner divinity schools and churches. The meetings have been full of energy and discussion focused on elevating CBF’s identity and mission support,” said James R. Smith, CBF Foundation president.
The five-city tour had its fifth and final stop in Charlotte with a dinner and program at St. John’s Baptist Church with senior minister Dennis Foust. The meeting included representatives from Gardner-Webb University and Wingate University as well as numerous area churches. During a question and answer session, Paynter fielded questions about her vision for the Fellowship, urging those in attendance to continue collaborating and to “celebrate partners” involved in CBF life.
At the conclusion of the program in Charlotte, Larry Hovis, executive coordinator of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina, invited one person from each congregation in attendance to lay hands on Paynter during a moment of prayer and blessing.
“It was a joy to accompany Suzii on this tour around North Carolina. I’m pleased that our folks had a chance to get to know Suzii and her vision for the next chapter in CBF’s life and ministry. I’m equally grateful that she had the opportunity to meet our churches and ministry partners and to experience firsthand the tremendous assets that reside in our state,” said Hovis.
“Through the years, we’ve all known that Suzii was a leader among us. It is fitting that someone with Suzii’s heart is now leading the Fellowship,” added Foust.
Paynter praised the leadership of CBF and CBF-partner institutions in the state. “I was especially happy to meet deans and scholars from our divinity institutions. Finding places of service for these great students is a priority for our Fellowship,” explained Paynter. “And I’m thankful to Larry Hovis and Linda Jones of CBFNC for their creative and inspired leadership.”
CBF is a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.